Our Company

Stronger learning for stronger lives

Challenging Learning is an independent consultancy group, comprised of 6 companies in 6 countries, all founded by James and Jill Nottingham.

Our head office is in Northumberland, the border country between England and Scotland that once marked the edge of the Roman Empire as well as the site for Britain’s first contact with the Vikings. This sense of place gives us CLEAR purpose, one that brings Clarity; Learning; Edginess; Agility; and Relevance.

We share teaching and leadership practices that have the biggest impact on learning progress. These are all based on the most up-to date and compelling evidence about what helps young people to lead stronger lives.

Our History

1992  James Nottingham trains in Philosophy for Children (P4C)

1996  James Nottingham joins the “Northumberland Thinking Through Humanities” and begins sharing P4C across North East England

1999  First airing on UK television of “Your Granny or Your Goldfish”, a documentary about James Nottingham’s use of P4C to raise achievement and aspirations with 9-13 year olds

2000  James Nottingham co-founds N-RAIS, an award-winning, multi-million pound social-regeneration project supporting learning in schools, nurseries, community groups and businesses 

2003  Jill Nottingham (née Potter) joins the N-RAIS project and further develops the early years and primary school offer

2006  As the N-RAIS Project funding ends, James and Jill Nottingham launch JN Partnership Ltd, a business designed to support schools and pre-schools within and beyond Northumberland 

2006  The first in-depth PD projects based on P4C, challenge, and the Learning Pit begin in Norway, Sweden and the UK

2007  James Nottingham makes his first keynote speech, at the International Conference on Thinking (13th ICOT) in Norrköping, Sweden

2007  In-depth PD projects and keynote speeches happen for the first time in Australia and New Zealand

2007  Having created the model many years earlier, James Nottingham’s first article about the Learning Pit is published in ‘Teaching Thinking & Creativity’

2009  Martin Renton joins JN Partnership, and further develops the company’s post-16 and adult education offer, launching Think-FE across the UK

2010 The company hosts Professor Carol Dweck for the first time, on a 5-conference tour of the UK and Norway

2010  James, Jill and Martin decide on a new name for the company: Challenging Learning

2010  James Nottingham’s first book “Challenging Learning” is published in English

2012 Challenging Learning is published in Norwegian as “Læringsreisen”; James Nottingham’s follow-up book, “Encouraging Learning”, is published in English

2012 The best aspects of all the in-depth processes developed since 1992 are brought together to form the Challenging Learning Process (CLP)

2013 Challenging Learning is published in Swedish as “Utmanande undervisning i klassrummet”; and Encouraging Learning is published in Norwegian as “Læringsnokkelen”

2013 The company secures the Scandinavian rights to John Hattie’s Visible Learning Plus Program and launches in Copenhagen

2014 Both of James’s books are published in Danish as “Udfordrende læring” and “Nøglen til læring”; and Encouraging Learning is published in Swedish as “Uppmuntra lärande”

2014 The first Visible Learning Plus projects begin in 6 kommune across Denmark

2015  The company opens offices in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and moves into new headquarters in Alnwick, Northumberland

2015  The Learning Pit Animation is launched

2016  Challenging Learning office opens in Australia

2017  Three new titles in the Challenging Learning Series are published in English, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish: Challenging Learning Through Dialogue; Challenging Learning Through Feedback; and The Learning Challenge: Guiding Your Students Through The Learning Pit

2018  Three more titles in the Challenging Learning Series are published in English, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish: Challenging Early Learning; Challenging Mindset; and Learning Challenge Lessons for Primary Schools

Our Values

Our values define the way we work as a company, guiding and informing our beliefs and behaviours.

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