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!
Summer Term 2022
Thanks for such a huge attendance at the free session for English Leads on June 29th. Here are the slides. Do contact me!
New online sessions for 2022/23 from the Opening Doors Team
There is a rich choice for you and often schools work with us online AND ask us in face to face to help maintain routes to more ambitious and exciting English. These three sessions in Julie Sargent’s collection are on:
- opening doors to rich poetry in reception and year 1
- opening doors at key stage 1: exploring prose
- opening doors at key stage 1: imaginary worlds
These sessions from Leah Crawford’s collection are on:
- a one off KS2 poetry session
- a course on building a richer English curriculum for LKS2
- a course on building a richer English curriculum for UKS2
This is a taster session for non-fiction using opening doors approaches by Angela Jenkins
Inset in Leeds
I’ve just had the pleasure of working with schools in Leeds supporting their progress building a rich and progressive curriculum. Many thanks to Hawksworth Wood and Christ Church Upper Armley plus guests. All our work is about classroom impact and exploring ambitious aims for English!
Spring Term 2022
It’s been a busy time as I’ve travelled extensively to maintain the support I can give for ambitious and challenging English. Thanks to Lisa and the Aspire Educational Trust for inviting me to continue a five year association! It was great to meet old friends and introduce others to ‘Opening Doors’!
“It was great to finally welcome Bob back to Macclesfield for a face to face session. The Aspire Educational Trust and new schools from the Fallibroome Trust have enjoyed delving into the Opening Doors approach to use aspirational texts to plan an ambitious English curriculum for ALL children.” Lisa Hesmondhalgh Director of English The Aspire Educational Trust
In contrast, I travelled to Barnsley to speak to teachers from across the north via The Enquire Learning Trust. So, new journeys have begun now for some of the schools who came!
We have been thrilled to partner with The Potential Trust this year! They 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:
We have to thank The Potential Trust for setting up a major event for us! We are thrilled to have gathered together some of our opening doors schools at Hawkwood College in Stroud to share practice and explore new ideas for excellence in English. The inspiration comes very much from the teachers and the innovative work they are doing!
It’s been an absolute pleasure being interviewed by ‘Tiny Voice Talks’ (@toriaclaire) and do listen as Toria quizzes me about challenging English! Thanks Toria!
This is superb! Take a look at how South Rise Primary in Greenwich show how ‘Pinocchio’ can be used in different ways in different years! Thank you to Lauren Walters and staff!
I’ve really enjoyed working with staff from Polegate Primary near Eastbourne and it’s the start of another new strand for ‘opening doors’ and our support for ambitious English for every pupil. Thanks Polegate for your hospitality.
Other plans this term include ongoing development working and coaching with individual schools, key-notes to educational trusts across many schools and sessions for ECTs. I’ll post more news as it happens.
Please do read this beautifully written account by Kerrie Hope at Ryefield Primary School, Uxbridge, of her schools’ journey to date with ‘opening doors’ and how it has been adapted to tailor the needs of Ryefield pupils!
You will really enjoy this!
Thanks Kerrie and thanks The National Association for the Teaching of English (NATE) for their brilliant online publication ‘Primary Matters’ from which this article comes with permission.
‘Be inspired by this charming article by Kerrie Hope, KS2 Literacy
Support Teacher at Ryefield Primary School in Hillingdon, London as
she shares her experience of resisting then embracing challenging texts. ‘ (from ‘Primary Matters’)
Leeds LA Feedback
I’ve enjoyed both online and face to face work since half-term. It was a privilege to be asked by Leeds LA to make another contribution to their superb CPD programme, this time with a focus on poetry. I’ve been sent some delegates’ responses:
I loved Bob reading the poems and hopefully, my own class will feel the same! Just need to find the right ones to enthuse them.
Thank you so much – lots of inspiration to take away.
Thank you, Bob – really great messages. I totally agree that for depth and quality, we need time for reflection and exploration.
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.
Blog for ‘The Potential Trust’ website on what I wish I’d known earlier about teaching to the top and beyond!
The Potential Trust are now one of our major partnering organisations so do trawl the website as well as reading the blog. It’s a kind of narrative of how I came to be so passionate about challenge for all.
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!
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:
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:
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!