Emma Lamb is the Head of UK Sales at Britannica Education; Emma has seen the brand grow and evolve in exciting ways over the ten years she has been there. So, there’s no one better placed to talk about how Britannica’s resources are being used by educators today.

We sat down with Emma to talk about her passion for education in prisons; what makes Britannica a resource trusted by over 150 million students worldwide; and the things she is most excited to see at the BETT London Conference taking place in March 2023.


Thank you so much for joining us, Emma. Many people know of Britannica, but what exactly do you do in the Education space today?


Oh, it’s crazy to think about it. We’ve been online for over 15 years now, but people don’t realise just how diverse Britannica Education is.

On one hand, we work with the Welsh Government in all their primary and secondary schools, and we’ve recently expanded into many state schools in the Republic of Ireland as well.

On the other, we’re also in 60% of the top independent schools, like Eton and Wellington – which was an easy fit since they already had the encyclopaedias.

The fact that we work with a lot of local authorities has led to work with the Ministry of Justice, so we’re also working with our first prison, HMP Five Wells.


Why is Britannica the best fit for a prison?


Personally, I’m hugely passionate about prison education, so this was something I really wanted Britannica to be a part of.

If prisoners have access to good education while serving a sentence, it provides the best chances of success for them after they leave to reintegrate into society.

Currently, prisoners don’t have access to the internet, Google, or any sort of search engine. So, if they’re serving a long sentence without it, they would have little idea about what’s going on in the outside world.

Britannica is the right fit because it works just like a search engine, but it’s far safer and more secure. Prisoners can search whatever subject, be it Maths, English, or History, for example, and learning materials are there for them, ready to learn from.


What exactly makes Britannica safer and more trusted than other platforms?


For us, it’s vital that Britannica is reliable. The fact that it’s used by the BBC and the Guardian for reference should tell you how trustworthy it is.

We employ over 100 editors to work live on the site, writing and checking articles for quality and accuracy – and they’re updated every twenty minutes.

For teachers who need their students to avoid misinformation and fake news, they can rely on Britannica’s resources as a ‘walled garden’ of safety.


Day-to-day, how does Britannica help teachers teach, and learners learn, better?


What makes it particularly helpful for teachers is that, while the topics are generalised, they’re written to match the curriculum, so it’s exceptionally useful for new teachers who need to get up to speed on a topic quickly – the Vikings, for example.

As I also mentioned earlier, the reading levels are differentiated: so, there are levels for our articles from beginner to advanced level, which helps students understand a concept in simple language – or push themselves when reading.

There are also in-built translation tools, which have been used to help people who don’t yet have a grip on English learning in their native languages. It has been particularly satisfying to see how it helps people like unaccompanied asylum seekers.

There’s so much more to it than just that, but all in all, it’s a remarkably accessible platform.


What can you tell me about how Britannica is being used overseas?


We actually build bespoke content for Ministries of Education, not just in the UK and Ireland, but we’ve worked with state education bodies in Madrid, Egypt, and Japan, as well.

That has been a very exciting path for us, because these bodies also want professional development courses, too: we listen to their needs and we develop what they want.


It sounds like a much more involved process to create a learning experience that’s just right for each educator, is that fair to say?


Absolutely – we’re a relatively small company, but extremely caring and really listen to what our customers have to say, no matter what they might need.

And, I say a relatively small company in the UK: we’re a huge global organization outside of that!


Final question: looking forward to the BETT Edtech conference this year, what are the most exciting things that you’re personally hoping to see?


I’m really excited about this year – we did BETT last year, but it was hugely affected by COVID, so we’ve gone all out for it this year.

We’ve got Baasit Siddiqui from Gogglebox, who was an ex-teacher, speaking on Thursday, and we’ll have many ministers joining us on the stand, including from the Ministry of Justice.

We’ve got a big stand in the Platinum area, so as soon as you come in, you’ll see us on the left, next to Microsoft. It looks fantastic.

All in all, I feel like 2023 is going to be the best, most exciting BETT to date.

We would like to thank Emma for her time. Britannica Education will be at the BETT London Conference at the ExCel Centre, London, on March 29th-31st. Tickets are still available on the official BETT Website. We hope to see you there!

Students learn best when they’re inspired – and Britannica gives teachers the tools to inspire over 150 million students every day. It’s 250 years’ worth of trusted knowledge – updated every twenty minutes – in ready-to-use lesson plans with video, audio, and marking tools. Start your journey with Britannica Education here.