‘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.
The picture you see above is from ongoing support for The Wonder Institute. I travelled to the East Riding of Yorkshire having already delivered a number of webinars. These are English Leads from KS2 and 3. I’ve been delighted to hear this from TL Advisor Kirsty McMurdo:
‘The session was nothing short of transformative – our writing lessons now all feature high quality texts and follow the ‘Opening Doors’ principles.’
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!
- by working with you on the principles and strategies which can raise English standards for all
- by modelling how challenging, quirky and exciting texts – poetry and prose – can be utilised for access and enjoyment by every pupil
- by referencing the work of our network schools which has been developing and growing for eight years
- by emphasising equity and excellence
- by showing HOW high pitch thinking can be delivered in the classroom: theory into practice
We are very proud to announce that our new book has now been published! It is called ‘Opening Doors to Ambitious Primary English’. We have explained and explored in a chapter-by- chapter format just HOW excellence in English is being developed in our network of schools. This is going to be a guide to support routes to excellence with principles and strategies rather than any one method. Our resources and insets help to signpost the way; teachers take ideas further and add creative ideas which challenging texts facilitate so well.
My co-authors are Leah Crawford, Julie Sargent and Angela Jenkins. What a team!
Do take a look:
We have been thrilled to receive this five star review from ‘Schools Week’ by Emma Cate Stokes. Thank you!
Here is just a small part of it:
As a teacher, having taught in multiple disadvantaged areas, the robust current of social justice and equity pulsating through the chapters truly resonates. The children we teach, every one of them, are worthy of ambitious learning opportunities. The book’s approach to pedagogy is not exclusive; instead, it strives for inclusivity, aiming to unlock doors for all young learners.What makes this book a standout for me are the real-life case studies. Authored by educators brimming with enthusiasm and dedication, these narratives recount their experiences applying the Opening Doors methodologies in their classrooms.
Click below to read many other reviews of the book including those by Professor Teresa Cremin (Open University), Nicola Mansfield (PIXL), Toria Bono ‘Tiny Voice Talks’, Kelly Ashley and many others including advisors, headteachers and teachers
It’s a privilege to have been asked to write this blog for The National Association for Able Learners in Education, NACE! It’s called ‘Routes to an Enriched Curriculum for All’
It’s also on the blogs section of this website:
Opening Doors Hubs
Are you interested in asking one of my team to facilitate the running of a hub for ambitious English? We now have more and more developing across the UK. They can take many different forms but the concept is that your school sets up regular training in your area and a long term impact is made! We can come along to run sessions but your teachers lead them too.
It’s best to ask me for more details:
here is an example of a new hub with thanks to The Birmingham Partnership. You could view this for ideas for your area but if you are in or around Birmingham, please join!
Scroll down for Opening Doors Travels and News!
Autumn Term, 2023
I am absolutely delighted to be collaborating with the prestigious English Association! If you would like to find out more, please find their link here:
Returning to Birmingham!
It was an absolute pleasure to work once again with Somerville School in Birmingham, but this time face to face! It was a warm welcome and the staff proved themselves to be top class writers!
If you are in or around Birmingham, do consider signing up to work with me at St Matthew’s C of E Primary (headteacher, Sonia Thompson) on February 23rd
Places on the ongoing Birmingham hub via The Birmingham Partnership have now been filled but watch this space for further developments!
Greenwich LA Conference at Mulgrave Primary School
‘Opening Doors’ has been working with Greenwich LA schools for a long time so returning to speak at Mulgrave Primary was very enjoyable and thrilling too! I was joined by Sara Abbas the English Lead there in speaking to schools from across the area. As so often, it’s the practical learning activities that delegates liked the most, for example:
- practical advice on how to use strategies in school
- seeing examples of the use of radial layouts, plus examples of children’s work
- range of texts as inspiration for link texts
- discussions around pitching high for all
Hertfordshire for Learning Conference
It was a privilege to be a special guest speaker at The Hertfordshire for Learning ‘Stronger in Knowledge’ symposium. They are an organisation which constantly stimulates excellence in education. I quote from their ‘X’ (tweet) ‘What an inspiring session with @BobCox_SFE. High expectations and ambitions for all pupils, using high quality texts to explore concepts/craft, can lead to phenomenal writing.’
I was asked back to a cluster of schools called The Forest Edge Federation and also to St Augustines in Frimley, Surrey and worked on the next steps to open more doors. At both schools, the book love was evident!
Summer Term, 2023
I have been very busy indeed, whether presenting at major conferences or supporting individual schools. Travels have included a follow up visit to Belmont Academy in Erith, ongoing work which we are all enjoying for the Diocese of Chichester schools, ranging across the south, and a great trip to St Mary’s Primary in Southampton. I can’t mention them all but thanks for your welcomes and enthusiasms.
I was very privileged to be part of a team of speakers at the Ad Astra Annual Conference in Middlesbrough. It really was special, so thanks to Andy Brown and the team. This quote is on twitter from Helen Durnion, one of the Ad Astra TL Leaders:
‘Thank you for inspiring us today. So proud of Kathy Wright from West Park for sharing their journey.’
I’d like to thank Kathy too! We are increasingly finding that our teachers who have developed our work in their contexts, long term, are moving the ambitious English agenda on further. That’s the way it should be. ‘Opening Doors’ facilitates CPD on a day to day basis because the scope of the texts gives schools the potential to go deeper and build autonomy.
I’ve also been once again presenting for PIXL at The Oval! This time I was interviewed by TL Leader Nicola Mansfield and made the case for all pupils’ entitlement to equity and excellence. We try to help schools, LAs and trusts find a route forward in terms of HOW to pitch high and include all.
The text is from ‘October, October’ by Katya Balen which we feature in ‘Opening Doors to Ambitious Primary English’.
The illustration – like all ‘Opening Doors’ illustrations – is by Vicky Cox!
Presentation for NAAE, The National Association for English Advisors, May 13th.
Thanks for joining us and here are the three presentations. Keep in touch.
Below you will see PP slides I used in an online launch of the new book with thanks to the Oxford Teaching School Alliance for their support. It was gratifying that so many of you logged on.
Travels have included Bracknell, Surrey and Hampshire with online sessions to schools in the East Riding of Yorkshire and Kent. The team has been linking up with schools in a blended way too, for example 'Our Lady's Primary' in Kent and 'Belmont Academy' in Bexley. Podcast I have also recorded a new podcast via Toria Bono. I hope this helps and thanks Toria for a very stimulating dialogue! https://www.tinyvoicetalks.com/podcast/episode/79267b04/opening-doors-part-2-with-bob-cox It won't be long before we are taking the new book out of its boxes. If you have pre-ordered, the release date is now May 22nd. The reviews will be released around then by Crown House. Spring Term 2023
It was a dynamic atmosphere in Kenilworth recently via Gateway Alliance with myself and Angela Jenkins presenting ideas to develop a richer, more ambitious English curriculum to over a hundred teachers from across the Midlands!
Thanks Gateway Alliance!
Here is a flavour of the evaluations:
- Writing standards was great for clarity and direction of curriculum. It was useful to look through pieces of writing evidence.
- Really enjoyed the morning session – some great ideas for classes that will be easy to implement and also to explain to colleagues. Really liked how the activities we looked at were short in length but the depth we could go into was highlighted well. Great range of texts – very inspiring. Loved the models of work from children.
- Fantastic, enthusiastic delivery of very workable and accessible strategies with opportunities for participation.
- Insightful session – great teaching tools to improve writing across school.
- Bob Cox was fantastic and really helped to bring back the foundations of what English teaching is all about. It was great to have so many examples of texts and how children have reworked these.
- Great speakers, inspiring to meet an educational author who I follow. Moderation materials very useful.
Other Travels, Online and Face to Face
The ‘Opening Doors’ team has been working with schools in places like Hampshire, Haringey, Poole and Oxfordshire. Organisations like The Wonder Institute in East Yorkshire and VNET in Norfolk have set up courses for ambitious English and the nationally advertised PIXL work has continued with sessions full there from the start last autumn. These will run again in 2023/4 I am delighted to announce.
The summer term includes many confirmed bookings, including our whole team working at some point across the Diocese of Chichester primary schools. This is a major initiative involving in-house and outreach partner training. We are all looking forward to it as well as sessions in Bracknell, North London, East Yorkshire and at The University of Teeside for Ad Astra Trust from Hartlepool.
We will be referencing the ideas, research and inspirations from schools featuring in the new book:
Icknield School, Luton
Meanwhile, in Luton at Icknield School I helped to open up a new hub for ‘Opening Doors’ as we continue to help you to grow across your networks sharing knowledge across communities. It was wonderful sharing a platform with Sonia Thompson, Head of St Matt’s, Birmingham who inspired everyone with ‘reading for pleasure’ strategies. Laura McGeachie and Lisa Kennedy at Icknield are leading some very special developments.
It has been a privilege receiving a warm welcome at Our Lady’s Primary School, Dartford and Tyndale Community School, Oxford. Both schools are interested in developing the kinds of principles and strategies modelled in our books and that’s exciting! Many schools have been in touch and I particularly enjoyed meeting the Belmont Academy and Castle Hill staff face to face again!
The National Association for Able Children in Education give us ongoing support for our work ensuring all pupils are challenged in English. I hope this blog I have just written for NACE helps your thinking. Of course, the ideas complement the new book which may be published on March 31st.
“Thank you for a brilliant session – I have a lot to think about and to implement. Definitely changed my way of thinking of how to develop an English Curriculum for all.”
“Lovely to see some more unusual great literature being promoted!”
“I thought it was all useful. The speaker’s enthusiasm was apparent.”
Opening Doors Conferences via The Potential Trust
Thanks to our partners, The Potential Trust, we were able to bring some of our opening doors schools together for two dynamic face to face conferences where the emphasis was on talk: sharing practice; new ideas; conundrums; pupils’ work; case studies. It was very special and more networking will continue. Please contact me to hear more about opening doors schools.
The Potential Trust are giving us superb support as an educational charity committed to making education exciting and enhancing high learning potential. I think you would enjoy finding out more:
Thanks to Hawkwood College for the hospitality and making a residential conference so positive.
Do read my blog for The Potential Trust!
Thanks for such a huge attendance at the free session for English Leads on June 29th. Here are the slides for anyone who is interested. Do contact me!
Greenwich LA Feedback
For some time, I’ve been working with Greenwich LA primary schools and it has led to so much exciting work going on using ‘opening doors’ approaches! Thanks to one of the Greenwich advisors, Juliet Skellet, for this comment:
Many thanks to you for inspiring everyone so well! The feedback has been great as witnessed by all of the fab presentations.
This partnership continues and I have been in face to face at Mulgrave Primary and seen some top quality work which will soon be posted on the Crown House pupils’ website. Scroll down this link, press each book in turn and you will find where there is pupils’ work connected with a unit. It will give you the contents of each book too.
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.
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:
Please follow me on @BobCox_SFE to keep in touch with events open to all for booking
The link between building knowledge and responses to new knowledge interests me a lot so why not read this very recent blog:
Thanks to Pie Corbett, creator of Talk4Writing, for his brilliant foreword in the ‘Opening Doors to a Richer English Curriculum’ 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:
#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
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!
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!