About Us About Us About Us

About Us

Award-winning consultancy for schools, pre-schools and colleges

Hats Off to Learning

Challenging Learning is an independent consultancy founded by James Nottingham in 2005. We provide professional development training and resources for people working with 3-19 year olds. Our team of experienced teachers, leaders, researchers, and admin staff are based in the UK, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, and the USA.

Our many “hats” include specialisms in challenge, creativity, dialogue, feedback, growth mindsets, leadership, progress and teaching thinking.

We are also the official partners in Scandinavia for John Hattie’s Visible Learning, and are co-directors of P4C.com, the international cooperative for Philosophy for Children.

Everything we do is context-driven. We design keynote speeches, one-day events, accredited courses, and long-term professional development programmes for teachers, leaders, support staff (pedagogues), and parents.

Who Wears The Hats?

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James Nottingham

Executive Director

Founder of the company, teacher, author, and world-renowned keynote speaker

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Martin Renton

Director of Consultancy and Evaluations

Ensures all our long-term projects happen with great quality. Also, our post-16 specialist & sought-after keynote speaker

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Marianne Skogvoll

Senior Consultant & Regional Manager, Scandinavia

Project leader, adviser, evaluation-meister, and all-round superhero

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Per Jensen


An expert in Mindset theory, and fluent in Danish, Swedish and English, Per supports pre-schools, schools and gymnasiums right across Scandinavia.

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Helen Richards

Director of Admin & Executive Assistant

Longest serving (suffering?) member of staff. On the Board of Directors and Head of Admin

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Lesley Roberts

Deployment & Evaluations Administrator

Does everything from deployment and workbook distribution to travel bookings, PA work and report typing

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Lisa Barrett

Evaluations Administrator & PA to Director of Consultancy

Travel bookings, PA to MD, office admin, dog showing (but not necessarily in that order)

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Beccy Morley

Financial Controller

Financial prudence, contract management, budgeting forecasts, and Spanish interpreter are just a few of Beccy’s many talents.

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Tom Burston

Director of Strategic Operations

Former strategic manager with Oxfam. Now our Director of Strategic Operations and hill-farming hobbyist

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Marianne Miles

Strategic Operations Administrator

Swedish secretary, handling everything to do with James Nottingham's work in Scandinavia. Also a part of the Strategic Operations team.

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Sue Millns

Finance Administrator

Keeps the accountant, the tax authorities AND the bank manager happy

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Sarah Unwin

Events & Online Coordinator, PA to Operations Director

Manages all our conferences & events, study tours, websites and online resources. Always with a smile.

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George Telford

Senior Consultant

Ex-Principal, Head of Challenging Learning’s operations in Australia, project leader, consultant, recruiter and pretty handy golfer.

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Deb Ions

Marketing and Partnership Manager

Twenty years of international marketing for media groups, universities and business schools and now for Challenging Learning

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Mark Bollom

Senior Consultant

With a background in primary, secondary, tertiary and special needs education, Mark is the perfect all-rounder. He’s also pretty handy with a hammer, saw and wrench.

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Marilyn Keenan

Deployment & Evaluations Manager

After 37 years as a teacher and headteacher, Marilyn now leads all our evaluation processes

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Richard Kielty

Senior Consultant & Regional Manager (UK & Australia)

Ex-Headteacher, psychotherapist, project leader, consultant, recruiter, Smoggy

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Jill Nottingham

Director of Networks and Product Development

Co-founder of the company, specialist in education for 3-11 year olds, recruiter, trainer & writer

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Our Associate Hat Wearers

Our Associates work with Challenging Learning on a part-time basis.  They provide additional expertise and training capacity as and when needed. They are all accredited Visible Learningplus trainers.

Kim Cowie


Lisa Cook


Henrik Hallig


Sophie Holmstrom


Bosse Larsson


Pippa Leslie


Bill Lowe


Rene Nielsen


Anne Marie Vinther


Gordon Poad

Newcastle, UK

Lasse Reichstein


Anette Rumann


Bitte Sundin


Helen Tyrvin


Mette Ingemann Uhre


Head Office

  • 2 Linnet Court
  • Cawledge Business Park
  • Alnwick, Northumberland
  • NE66 2GD
  • United Kingdom

Company Information

In 1999, James Nottingham set up a freelance consultancy so that he could share Philosophy for Children (P4C) with local schools in Northumberland. This became the catalyst for the award-winning N-RAIS project, a multi-million pound initiative to raise the aspirations and achievements of young people in North East England.

In 2005, James Nottingham and Jill Nottingham set up JN Partnership Ltd so that the best strategies for challenge, feedback, growth mindset, leadership, P4C, and thinking skills could be shared with schools and pre-schools around the world. Helen Richards joined the company full time in 2006 and then Martin Renton joined in 2009. 

In 2010, James published his first book Challenging Learning, followed by Encouraging Learning two years later. In 2013, the company secured the exclusive rights to John Hattie’s Visible Learning in Scandinavia, and in 2016 they launched the Challenging Learning Process (CLP) as well as two new books in the “Challenging Learning Through …” series. Eight more titles will follow over the coming months. 

Today the group of companies (Challenging Learning Ltd in UK, Australia, Denmark, Norway and Sweden) employs 25 staff in 6 countries, with further appointments scheduled for 2017.