‘On Becoming Writers’ by Vicky Bluck, Expert Practitioner at York Primary Schools’ Writing Project (now Write Time).

A friend and ex-work colleague texted me back in 2016 saying she was at a course, and never had she wished I was with her more than on that day. The course? Bob Cox’s Opening Doors. And there it started – could the work I did back then as part of local authority English support, and later as the lead practitioner of a SSIF funded-writing project in York, give me the opportunity to not only share the resources, but introduce the approaches and the author to schools with whom I was working in partnership?
The Opening Doors books hold the central tenet that the beauty and depth of the English language is available and accessible to all with the right enabling strategies, and that this will provide children with the wings to fly. At the project, our aim is to support all children becoming writers but especially those children who did not identify themselves as such, whose barriers to being successful were often borne of limited vocabulary, sporadic reading engagement and being overwhelmed by process and content. Through explicit modelling, our aim was to work with schools in developing a rich immersive approach to writing, steeped in language, texts, the arts and wider curriculum and the Opening Doors approach championed, modelled and shared all that we held dear.
Roll forward two years to 2018, after a successful completion of phase one in York, supporting teachers and year 4 and 5 pupils in becoming more confident writers, Bob joined us for the day – sharing his approach and developing the practice of teachers and trainers along the way. Using new materials, notably David Copperfield, the teachers were led through a series of thought- provoking reading and writing experiences that focused on engagement and challenge for all, steeped in the rich language of prose and poetry. The response from delegates was overwhelming, with Bob sharing pilot materials with project schools to trial units for his new books.
Our project training continues to harness the Opening Doors approach of sharing quality texts with all children, exploring and expanding vocabularies to build understanding as both a reader and a writer – putting a rich literary heritage at the heart of learning. Alongside this, our commitment to developing teachers and children’s ability to ‘step out’ of writing in order to consider the process and thinking required to be a writer [metacognition] really drove the development of deliberate practice and evaluative editing. Participating schools talk animatedly about how children’s language has blossomed, how children have engaged with the process and purpose of writing and feel they have something to say – but more importantly that they are beginning to develop the craft of being a writer! For myself, one of the most powerful reflections from teachers has been their own realisation of how they have developed as writers, how their confidence has blossomed, how writing has becoming rich, enjoyable and shared.
As Joe Bunting in his 10 steps to becoming a writer said, “No one is born a writer. You must become a writer. In fact, you never cease becoming, because you never stop learning how to write. Even now, I am becoming a writer. And so are you.”
As a profession, it’s our moral imperative to continue to open these doors…
If you are interested in finding out more about the Write Time project, or becoming involved, please visit our website at http://www.pathfinder-education.co.uk/790/writing-project where further information and contact details are available.

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