James Nottingham

Northumberland, UK

Executive Director

About James

James Nottingham is the founder and executive director of Challenging Learning. His passion is in transforming the most up-to-date research into strategies that really work in the classroom. He has been described by Skolvärlden (Swedish Teaching Union) as “one of the most talked about names in the world of school development.”

His first book, Challenging Learning is published in 5 languages and has received widespread critical acclaim. His follow-up book, Encouraging Learning, supports his work with parents and community groups, as well as with teachers and leaders. Currently he is writing a series of books to share the best strategies for feedback, challenge, dialogue, progress, and metacognition.

Before training to be a teacher, James worked on a pig farm, in the chemical industry, for the American Red Cross and as a teaching assistant in a school for deaf children. At university, he gained a first class honours degree in education. He then worked as a teacher and leader in primary and secondary schools in the UK before co-founding an award-winning, multi-million pound regeneration project supporting education, public and voluntary organisations across north east England.

In 2005, James started JN Partnership Ltd. This later developed into the group of companies known today as Challenging Learning. He is well known throughout Scandinavia for his work with John Hattie’s Visible Learning. Internationally, he is known for his work on challenge, progress, Philosophy for Children, and the Learning Pit.

In 2009, James was listed among the Future 500 - a “definitive list of the UK's most forward-thinking and brightest innovators.”

There is more information about James on his own website www.jamesnottingham.co.uk

James Nottingham’s work with pre-schools, kindergartens, and nurseries

James is a leader in transforming up-to-date research into strategies that really work in pre-schools. Having been a pedagog and a leader in pre-schools, he understands how to ensure that feedback, praise, challenge, progress, and dialogue can be made to work brilliantly with young children.

Feedback from Pre-School work with James Nottingham

  • “Thanks for the many wise words - and a liberating way to describe everyday life in pre-school and the many opportunities that lie ahead to create more learning.” (Mette Mariendal, DK)
  • “We were so impressed at how well you “translated” all the important points from your own and Hattie’s books into the pre-school context – and that your examples were spot on.” (Pre-School Editor, Dafolo, DK)
  • I just want to thank you for lifting me back to - I love my job - Thank you for a couple of fantastic hours in Århus today. I have been a Little "tired" lately - now I am back on track :) (Pre-school leader, DK)
  • Great speaker who managed to keep the energy high all day! / Fantastisk foredragsholder som formår at holde gang i energien hele dagen! (Pre-school assistant, DK)
  • Nothing short of an AMAZING speaker. Time flew by! Although it was in English, the language was never a problem! / Intet mindre end FANTASTISK oplægsholder. Tiden fløj af sted! Selvom dagen foregik på engelsk, blev sproget aldrig på noget tidspunkt et problem! (Pre-school teacher, DK)


James Nottingham’s work with schools

James has been a teacher and leader in schools in the UK, and is now one of the most sought-after speakers in the world of education. His reputation for translating up-to-date research into practical strategies that are proven to work with students between the aged of 5-18 is outstanding.

Feedback from James Nottingham’s consultancy with Schools

  • “Thank you so much for such an inspirational and thought provoking training day on Monday. I haven't received such a positive response from the staff following any other training event. The staffroom is still buzzing! You pitched it perfectly for our school and have given us plenty to think about.” (Kylie Spark, Sale, UK)
  • “James Nottingham’s work at our school is leading to the most significant and ongoing positive change that I have witnessed in my 30 years in education. As part of this on-going development, we held a parent information night that is still talked about two years later. We all now have a different perspective on learning and the vital role we can play in developing successful learners.” (George Telford, VIC, Australia)
  • “Thanks again for a truly inspirational day. For a school in special measures such as ours it has given the staff a positive direction in which to work together and the staffroom has a buzz about it.” (Cathy Longhurst, Herts, UK)


James Nottingham’s work with FE colleges, gymnasiums, and adult education centres

James has worked with FE colleges (gymnasiums) and adult education centres around the world. Offering tailor-made, evidence-based, and practical strategies for all staff working with students over the age of 16, James can help you take the next steps in your professional development journey.

Feedback from James Nottingham’s consultancy with Post 16 colleges

  • "James Nottingham was amazing and the courses were intense, challenging and draining but provided invaluable strategies that become second nature when used on a daily basis." (Assistant Leader, Sprogcenter Midt, Denmark)
  • “The Challenging Learning Process has encouraged staff to try new techniques and be more innovative. Staff no longer feel that a student needs to be 'spoon fed'; but need to be encouraged to think for themselves.”
  • “If you want an inquisitive and enthusiastic learning environment then you should engage with the Challenging Learning Process.” (Skolvärlden (Swedish Teacher Magazine), 2014) 

James Nottingham’s keynote speeches

"Nothing short of an AMAZING speaker. Time flew by! Although it was in English, the language was never a problem!” ("Intet mindre end FANTASTISK oplægsholder. Tiden fløj af sted! Selvom dagen foregik på engelsk, blev sproget aldrig på noget tidspunkt et problem!”)

James Nottingham has been described as one of the best professional speakers in the world of education. He has engaged audiences from every phase: pre-school, primary, secondary, FE (gymnasium) and university. He inspires teachers, leaders and pedagogues to reflect and take action.

The conferences he will be speaking at over the coming year include:

  • Visible Learning conferences alongside Professor John Hattie

  • Mindset & Motivation conferences alongside Professor Carol Dweck

  • Challenge and Progress in Pre-School conferences, hosted by Dafolo

  • Principals' conferences in Australia & New Zealand; Denmark, Norway, & Sweden; the UK; the USA; Argentina, Columbia, & Venezuela; Bahrain, Qatar, and UAE.

  • Teachers' conferences in 20 different countries (so far)

"James has developed a rare skill for blending arresting anecdotes, hard-edged research and practical advice into a truly compelling narrative. He brings the clarity, humour and powers of synthesis that characterise his presentations to the written word too.” (Professor Barry Hymer, Cumbria University, UK)

"James Nottingham - lärare och skolledare och ett av de mest omtalade namnen inom skolutveckling i världen i dag." (Skolvärlden, 2014) / James Nottingham is a teacher and leader, and one of the most talked about names in the world of school development today (Swedish Teaching Union Magazine)

Contact James

These Personal Assistants (PA) can help if you would like get in touch with James Nottingham 

Helen has been PA to James Nottingham since 2003. She works Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm (UK time) She can help you with all enquiries.

Marianne is PA to James Nottingham for all of his work in Scandinavia. She is bilingual (Swedish and English)

James's Events

  • The course was inspiring and informative, focusing on better teacher-student relations through dialogue and teacher-teacher feedback through action learning

    Assistant Leader

    Sprogcenter Midt, Denmark

    James's Resources


    James Nottingham Live - All Kids are Different

    James Nottingham at Lärarnas riksförbud - Part One  "All Kids Are Different"

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    James Nottingham Live - Evaluating Progress

    James Nottingham at Lärarnas riksförbud - Part Two "Evaluating Progress"

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    James Nottingham Live - Application = Value x Expectation

    James Nottingham at Lärarnas riksförbud - Part Three "Application = Value x Expectation"

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    The Learning Challenge

    An animated guide to the Learning Challenge (known by many as the Learning Pit)

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