Welcome to the website for ‘Searching for Excellence Ltd”, the home of Bob Cox, the author of the ‘Opening Doors’ series.
‘Opening Doors’ is all about making challenging texts and a quality English curriculum available to all learners. Bob and his team can support your initiatives to ensure access and excellence is at the heart of planning and entitlement.
Bob has supported around 500 schools directly and delivered well over 1000 insets of various types across the UK and abroad. Webinars are also available. Please read more on this website on how your English curriculum can become more challenging. Contacts are here:
In 2017, Bob became an award winning author with the two ‘Quality Writing’ books being awarded best educational book resource by the judges of the Educational Resource Awards. See the bottom of the page for the citation.
See below for details of the units in the books, for reviews and to buy, if you wish
Latest News from Bob
Please enjoy scanning the reviews, news and free resources below, including webinars that should support your work on developing your English curriculum. I’ll try to post ‘open’ events as they come. It’s a feed of news with the latest first!
Good luck with both the pleasures and the challenges of a new academic year. We are here to help you develop new approaches to your English curriculum at key stages 1,2 and 3. As I write, my diary has online or face to face partnerships confirmed this term with schools in Oxford, Hampshire, Wokingham, Leeds and many more. We are also thrilled to be continuing to work with Greenwich LA, Haringey LA and Aspire Trust.
Our links with organisations like Herts4Learning, The Ad Astra Trust and The Potential Trust will also continue. Please see below for our national network of schools. Let me know if you are using ‘Opening Doors’ and would like to join as some opportunities will be offered only to network schools.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my opening inset days in places like Maltby and Banbury! Term has begun.
It’s not taken long for comments and pupils’ work to be coming in from schools. Both these are from the first week in September.
Thanks to Sonia Thompson, Head of St Matthews, Birmingham for this comment:
Opening Doors is embedded at StMatts! Love everything he stands for, particularly high challenge using classic texts!
Also, thanks to Sam Collier, Head at Christ Church, Upper Armley:
Engagement levels are amazing and the vocabulary that weaves its way beautifully through texts for months to come is truly amazing and we are based inner city with lots of life challenges. Buy Bob’s books and / or join a network or come to CPD, you won’t regret it.
Do take a look at my twitter handle for the latest news from opening doors schools!
There are a few places left for our new ongoing courses for specific year groups. Please see below.
Two New Networks for 2021/2022!
I am thrilled to announce that we can now run two ongoing online networks via members of the ‘Opening Doors’ team. These will consist of four sessions through the year AND with three interim recorded inputs to respond to need and add depth and detail. This is a terrific chance to learn about the key principles and strategies in ‘Opening Doors’ and how you can adapt them to the needs of your school to offer an exciting English curriculum, enriched for all.
Julie Sargent is leading a network with a focus on key stage one:
Leah Crawford is leading a network with a focus on Upper Key Stage Two:
You can find out more about Leah and Julie via their website links on the ‘Richer English’ page:
Do book quickly as there is a limit on numbers.
It’s been a pleasure to work with schools, Trusts and LAs from Maltby to Greenwich to Wokingham to Hartlepool and beyond! Face to face sessions have resumed but online will continue too. Please see how blended learning approaches are helping:
The Education Festival Presentation!
It was a privilege to speak at the Education Festival 2021 and my presentation is now available free.
Please contact me with any comments, questions or to ask for training. Just scroll down to the second layer of speeches and find mine under ‘New Visions for English’
Please let me know if we can SUPPORT you!
Teach Reading and Writing Article
I hope you will find this article useful, published in ‘Teach Reading and Writing’. The link will enable you to read and digest it properly. I’m responding to feedback from schools on how important pupil response is. I use just four lines from a poem to show how knowledge rich texts increase opportunities to participate, explore and go even deeper!
It’s been very enjoyable welcoming more schools into the ‘opening doors’ processes and approaches to make a richer English curriculum a reality for all learners. In particular, working with Greenwich LA, Ad Astra Trust, Maltby Trust and Hampshire networks has been really satisfying. It was also an absolute privilege presenting at the Osiris World Conference.
There is a free webinar in early June organised by Learners First so do take a look and join me:
All the ‘opening doors’ team would like to thank the 240 teachers who logged on to listen to three of our schools speaking about their progress in developing a richer English curriculum! The schools were:
Mottingham Primary School
St John Houghton Catholic Voluntary Academy
Ryefield Primary School
You can access the slides on this page:
I’ve been delighted to have been a part of the incredible online Osiris World Summit, an event which simply would not have been possible a year ago! I am proud to have showcased ideas to teachers from across the world:
In addition, do consider becoming one of the Trusts, LA’s or schools with whom I’m working to keep the momentum of challenging and creative English going. Just email or tweet please! See Opening Doors Schools link for our current partners. Awareness is growing that short online sessions are possible ( and cheap) which can later become face to face. We are particularly interested in helping you to improve English in your school or across your cluster!
I’ve posted an example of a new kind of blended learning for CPD which is now emerging:
Why not contact me for support? We link a range of past and present texts under concepts and advise on key principles and key strategies for inclusion and excellence. Please see the webinars below for the detail or go to:
From the summer term, schools are booking face to face (or still online) so we do hope to get back into schools as some kind of ‘normality’ returns. I hope you are all okay!
Please follow me on @BobCox_SFE to keep in touch with events open to all for booking.
Have you ever wondered how the illustrations in ‘Opening Doors’ could be used to inspire both an appreciation of the text as well as an improvement in art skills?
Here, Vicky explains how she developed her illustrator role! At about 18 minutes, she models a drawing. She is interviewed by my other daughter, Becky, who is a Hampshire primary teacher. It’s completely their idea and there are lots of tips here:
I have been working online with a number of Trusts, clusters and schools, including St Catherine’s in Athens! I really enjoyed ‘returning’ to Devon – after a gap of a few years – to speak to teachers via Babcock Education. Thanks! Here are a few of the evaluation comments:
Bob was an inspirational speaker with real examples that can be taken straight into the classroom
Bob was very easy to listen to and I liked the way he referred to a range of texts with an emphasis on strategies and how to use them in school
This will support a cohesive curriculum and create progression in reading and writing standards
It was a privilege to be the key-note speaker for the National Association for the Teaching of English, NATE on ‘Using Challenging Texts for Richer Responses’. Here are some evaluations from the NATE newsletter
Bob Cox – very inspiring
It was very heartening to hear his messages re-emphasised about using quality texts at a time when there seems to be a scarcity of this in the classrooms I visit.
I will continue to place high quality literature at the heart of the English Programme we offer our PGCE trainees. Bob’s ‘messages’ already underpin our pedagogy.
I am not Primary trained but in this new role I span Yr5-Yr 8 – I am always looking for suitable materials for the EAL learner. Thank you for the Rossetti poem pointer!
From Jonathan Morgan, NATE Director:
Bob’s session was stimulating, thought-provoking and inspirational, with a range of high quality resources for teachers and young people.
The link between building knowledge and responses to new knowledge interests me a lot so why not read this very recent blog:
Webinar for Haringey LA
Bob Cox is one of our CPD program most popular speakers – his latest lecture ‘New Visions for Challenging English’ was incredibly well received by our teachers and head teachers – he managed to infuse the English Curriculum with a new energy, while injecting a ton of dynamism on the subject he obviously knows inside out. Our teachers left with a wealth of new strategies, approaches and exercises that they are really grateful for.’
Heather deSilva, Director of CPD, Haringey Education Partnership – November 20
Please listen to this interview with Carl MCarthy @SchReading where I’m able to explore HOW schools are using challenging texts with access for all!
The text I refer to ‘The Blue Planet’ by Andri Snaer Magnason has an online module which you may find useful here. All the modules are free:
If you want to read more about how ‘Opening Doors’ has been making an impact you might want to read this page:
2020 News, Reviews and Free Online Resources including Webinars!
Thanks to Pie Corbett, creator of Talk4Writing, for his brilliant foreword in our latest books!
‘I love this book and its companion volume. If I were still a teacher then it would become a key resource for planning, alongside earlier books in the ‘Opening Doors’ series.
Review on ‘Opening Doors to a Richer English Curriculum 6-9’ in ‘The School Librarian’
For teachers looking to delve deeper into the teaching of English, exploring rich texts, this book is essential, with 15 units, seven on poetry and the rest on prose. Clear links are made to a range of texts that can be used to help pupils to develop their understanding and their writing. The examples of writing produced by children using the techniques in the book are inspirational and show the impact of using poems and prose that teachers may think too challenging. The link reading is a really useful list to ensure that pupils are gaining a wider range of reading. This book will really help to develop the teaching of English through quality reading. Through the use of these ideas pupils’ vocabulary will develop along with their comprehension skills. Each unit in the book takes the teacher through the key reading strategies and how to engage the children. Pupils are encouraged to debate, put things in a continuum, and teachers are encouraged to use props, model the reading and start with quick writing tasks. There is also plenty of scope to differentiate to support those who find it challenging while stretching those pupils who are ready for further challenge. Opening Doors is an inspiring yet accessible book for teachers that will encourage wider reading in both teachers and pupils. Kate Keaveny
From Mary Myatt, author of High Challenge, Low Threat, Hopeful Schools and Curriculum: Gallimaufry to Coherence
‘From Han-Shan to Hardy, From Gaimon to Gray, this resource provides a cornucopia of poems and prose as the starting point for truly opening pupils’ minds, deepening their knowledge of sophisticated writing and creating conditions for them to produce substantive, authentic writing of their own.’
See below and the ‘richer English’ page here for more reviews and information on the training:
Webinar for The National Association of Advisers in English
‘New Visions for the Teaching of Poetry’
July 8th, 2020.
Webinar for Bucks Teacher Learning Day
‘Opening Doors to Challenging Reading for ALL Learners’
#NEW WEBINAR# Free to View Now.
I was privileged to contribute to a programme organised by The Chiltern Teaching Alliance! You can see my webinar here. Do contact me with any questions. The title is ‘New Visions for Challenging English’
Twitter comments included:
‘Thank you Bob Cox for reminding us to challenge our students AND ourselves to challenging reading..brilliant session’
Arv Kaushal, Equality and Diversity (BAME) – Programme Lead at Chiltern Learning Trust
‘You are a treasure of knowledge, reading and writing is a journey! Your books definitely need to be part of all colleges and universities, especially for student teachers and seasoned teachers.’
Teacher from Manhattan
#Opening Doors to a Richer English Curriculum#
We are thrilled with the fourth and fifth books in the series!
Scroll down to ‘product description’ on this link to see many reviews from experts in the field like Teresa Cremin, Mary Myatt and Martin Galway
Links to purchase on amazon:
We hope the two new books will support your drive for challenging English for all pupils, pitched high but accessed by all.
This brief video will help you understand the distinctiveness of the new books ‘Opening Doors to a Richer English Curriculum’
‘Opening Doors to a Richer English Curriculum’ for both ages 6-9 and 10-13 will have more on concepts, continuity and curriculum with a huge range of links past to present across the 15 units in each book. Thanks once again to my daughter Vicky for the illustrations and see
for more on my co-authors Leah Crawford and Verity Jones! Thanks for the inspiration!
Please check my twitter handle @BobCox_SFE as so many organisations are kind enough to post appreciation and pupils’ work.
Award Winning Author: ‘The Educational Resources Award’:
“All Bob’s books should be in every school and used.” 16th April 2017
Pie Corbett – teacher, author, storyteller and developer of Talk4Writing
On March 17th, 2017, Bob became an award winning author!
Bob’s ‘Opening Doors to Quality Writing’ books have won an award in the ‘educational book’ category at The Educational Resources Awards! Here is
what the judges said:
“Described as two gems which provide innovative approaches to exploring quality texts as stimuli for children’s writing. Judges described ‘The Opening Doors to Quality Writing’ series is an invaluable resource, particularly for non-specialist teachers. Excellent literary choices contained within very attractively produced books.”
Bob accepted the award ‘for all the amazing teachers opening doors for their pupils to language, literature and life chances’.
“Teachers that have used the books report enhanced confidence, a broader range of teaching strategies and a greater sense of enjoyment and achievement.”
Martin Galway, Teaching and Learning Adviser (English), Herts for Learning Ltd
Reactions to the award include:
“Congratulations to Bob Cox, ERA award winner, for such a fine series of books on teaching writing. Essential resources for raising our game.”
18th March 2017
“Well deserved Bob! I attended your training last year and this has had a huge impact on the expectations we have of our pupils and the quality and complexity of the texts we are using. Rarely have I been on training that has had such an impact on my practice – having done the job for nearly 20 years and been a consultant for part of that time.”
Samantha Collier, Vice Principal, Hillcrest Academy For Gorse Academies Trust
There are now thousands of schools using Bob’s ‘going deeper’ strategies! Bob and his team would like to work with you on an exciting journey using all kinds of quality reading – picture books, children’s fiction and literary classics – to stimulate quality writing. We want to help spread the use of quality texts, poetry and literature in primary schools and across the transition phase to KS3!