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
We are well aware of the pressures on schools and families during this coronavirus crisis. Stay safe and keep well. It’s an unprecedented time. You are doing an incredible job.
We can now announce there are more places for our FREE session on March 16th where three schools will speak about the impact ‘Opening Doors’ is having! We were sold out with a huge waiting list after 24 hours but thanks to The National Association of English Advisors we can now invite many more! Please register here and find more information via Eventbrite:
Please enjoy scanning the reviews, news and free resources below, including webinars that should support your work on developing your English curriculum. There are a number of ‘open’ online events which may interest you.
It’s got an international flavour!
I’ve been accepted to speak at the Osiris World Summit! I am proud to be showcasing ideas and answering questions to teachers from across the world:
Also, see this exciting international conference run by ELSA
Optimus Education are setting up an innovative curriculum conference at which I’m speaking about cross-curricular primary English
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!
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’
#Supporting Remote Learning and Home Educators#
We’ve been thinking about how to support both schools and parents and also provide additional resources for regular ‘Opening Doors’ users.
We are working on free online resources which will be independent in themselves but which will complement units in the ‘Opening Doors’ series!
The first one is inspired by unit 10 in ‘Opening Doors to a Richer English Curriculum’ called ‘The Green Door’, a short story by H.G. Wells. Please take a look and listen to the suggestions as you work through the slides. There is an introduction to ‘Opening Doors’ at the start if you need it. Enjoy!
We would like to thank Carl McCarthy and ‘The Reading School’ for hosting our work. Do scan the rest of his site for lots of fascinating ideas! Carl is on @moreteachertalk and at http://www.moreteachertalk.com
#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
We are thrilled that the two new books are now published and you can follow the amazon link above within the box in the picture to read reviews under the product guide by Teresa Cremin, Mary Myatt and many more!
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!
Book Launches and Presentations
It’s been very exciting starting to speak at conferences and with schools using the fresh materials and ideas on concepts, depth and creativity. Some of the events in autumn 2019 and 2020 have included:
Reading Rocks South
St Matthews Birmingham and Herts for Learning book launches
The Oxford Reading Spree
The Ryefield Schools cluster in Uxbridge
Hampshire schools, including a major conference at Crofton Hammond Infants.
Mottingham Primary School
Coastlands School, Wales
The Write Time Project, York
SSIF/DFE project in Stoke
Thanks to everyone for inviting me and the opening doors team!
Would your school like to become an ‘Opening Doors’ hub or Learning Centre?
This involves advertising around your area for an ongoing course which facilitates classroom impact via one half-day session per term. It can be tailored to need. Please contact me if you are interested.
A number of these are key-notes on the need for access to richer English for all pupils! Do let me know if you would like me to speak at your conference!
This year, I received many comments from moderators, verbally and in messages, about the impact of the opening doors strategies. It was very gratifying as so many teachers say to me that they learn in their classrooms every day after designing a challenging curriculum. See A Daily Diet of CPD! January 2019
Here is an example from a local authority moderator, Emily Weaver, on the impact of ‘Opening Doors’:
Just dropping you a quick line to say I have just undergone key stage 2 writing moderation as a moderator this year and what an absolute difference following your books and the opening doors approach to writing has had for end of key stage outcomes.
They stood out hugely compared to other approaches and strategies by an absolute mile.
Where people were using heritage texts as drivers for writing, the work, especially at the greater depth standard was superb.
Please check my twitter handle @BobCox_SFE as so many organisations are kind enough to post appreciation and pupils’ work.
2019/20 travels included many areas of the UK. See A Richer English Curriculum. Apart from key-notes, for example at the National Association for the Teaching of English ‘Primary Matters’ Conference and the Brighter Futures English Conference in Reading, we also supported schools, LA’s or MATs in ongoing ways. We have enjoyed working with Cheshire teachers from 2017-2019 via the Aspirer Research School and we are returning for a fourth time in 2020/21 such has been the impact. Here is a selection of comments:
“One of the best courses I’ve been on.”
“How to make challenging texts accessible to all children.”
“A shift in thinking regarding the English curriculum – using key concepts to ensure a clear, sequential progression. Pupils will have a thirst for tackling more complex texts, drawing on a wider vocabulary to write in a sophisticated way.”
“All children have accessed and so improved in both their understanding of texts and constructing high quality responses to questions and writing tasks. Thank you Bob, you’ve inspired both me and my class.”
Searching for Excellence Support
Bob can support your school or speak at your conference on:
‘Opening Doors to a Richer English Curriculum’. This will be relevant to key stages 1,2 or 3.
‘Pitching High’. This will support strategies for ensuring the inclusion of all learners in a high quality curriculum
Ongoing in-house support tailored to need.
‘Searching for Excellence’ offers experienced, professional support for the development of learning in schools. Since becoming a freelance educational consultant in 2007, Bob has worked with a range of schools cross-phase and has delivered inset at national, international and county conferences, often in a leading capacity. He has now supported over 500 schools in their “search for excellence”.
2018/19 briefs included key notes in national conferences, for Hampshire and Leeds LA and across many clusters: Oldham, Macclesfield, York, the Isle of Man, The Isle of Wight, Kent and many, many more. Bob also worked with parents, teachers and pupils in Singapore!
If you are interested in support for a richer, deeper English curriculum and want advice on how it can be achieved with the resources to back it up, do contact Bob on firstname.lastname@example.org
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
“Bob was a pleasure to work with and his professional, thoughtful approach was very popular with our delegates. His enthusiasm and love of classic texts was palpable and immediately engaging; many of our schools here in Leeds have now adopted his approach to ensure that this material is part of their reading and writing curricula.” Steve Dawson, Leeds LA, key-note 2018
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!