About Martin Renton

Keynote Speaker, Director of Consultancy & Evaluations

Director of Consultancy, Training and Development for Challenging Learning. He is one of our most sought after keynote speakers, as well a senior consultant to our projects around the world. Martin’s background is in both schools and further & higher education. He has pioneered an approach to learning – particularly with the 16-19 year old age range – that is making a pronounced difference within colleges (gymnasiums) across the UK and Scandinavia.

As well as designing and managing our projects around the world, Martin is one of our most sought-after keynote speakers. His background is in both schools and further & higher education, where he has pioneered an approach to learning – particularly with the 16-19-year-old age range – that is making a pronounced difference within colleges (gymnasiums) across the UK and Scandinavia.

Martin Renton is Challenging Learning's Director of Consultancy and Evaluations. He is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, leader, facilitator and coach.

Martin’s excellent reputation is well-earned. His core belief that professional development is not a ‘quick fix’ but a deep process of change that has led to some very powerful effects in schools and colleges around the world. Teachers and leaders who have worked with Martin over an extended period of time refer to increased engagement, motivation and progress for all students.

Martin ensures that all our Challenging Learning workshops blend theories of learning with active tools for the classroom, giving teachers and leaders opportunities to put new skills and approaches into practice. The effect of this action learning approach can be seen most dramatically in our long-term projects around the world.

Martin’s knowledge of pedagogy and leadership is borne out of his experiences in schools and colleges as a teacher, leader, consultant and coach. His early experiences as a nanny (2-9-year-olds), then as a teacher and leader in middle schools (9-13-year-olds), secondary schools (11-18-year-olds) and colleges (16+) have given him a comprehensive insight into how people learn from the age of 2–adulthood. Martin uses these insights to challenge, inspire and engage his audiences.

With a master’s degree in Educational Research from Newcastle University, Martin leads the Challenging Learning evaluation team so that evaluation processes are integrated into all of our long-term projects. These processes form a central part of our reporting and monitoring, giving the schools we work with the data they need to make meaningful decisions about their next steps.  

Martin is perhaps best known for his work with vocational, adult and further education. Indeed, his work in Northern Ireland over the last 10 years has been highlighted by the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) as a key factor in the development of outstanding strategic professional development in Northern Ireland:

“Martin Renton has increased the enthusiasm of staff to look at their classroom practices. They are more open about asking for help, have become more reflective in their practice and have ‘demanded' more.”   (Head of Quality Improvement, FE College, Northern Ireland)

At the heart of all Martin’s training and the Challenging Learning Process, are the core messages of independent thinking, collaborative learning and questioning for challenge. These core elements appear in his keynotes and workshops on Challenging Learning, Visible Learning, Questioning and Feedback.

His keynotes, often on the theme of a common language for learning, focus on the need for the development of Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge (ASK) to make effective progress. Recent feedback from his conferences listed Martin as one of the 5 most inspiring influences in education. As well as headlining national and international conferences, Martin often presents alongside such recognised speakers as Prof. John Hattie, Prof. Sugatra Mitra, Prof. Carol Dweck, James Nottingham and Simon Weston OBE.

Currently, Martin is working on many of the books in our Challenging Learning series.  He is principal author of Challenging Learning Through Questioning and Challenging Learning Through Coaching, and is also co-author of Challenging Learning Through Dialogue.

Martin has worked on projects as diverse as Building Schools for the Future with Sheffield University, and Online Thinking Skills for BBC Education.  His work can be seen in regular features for Creative Teaching and Learning magazine and on the programme Intelligent Learning (available as a DVD from Imaginative Minds Ltd).

Martin is also trained in the historic craft of dry stone walling and still labours under the impression that he can play the guitar. Despite his obsession with teaching Thinking Skills through Music and working on a book of the same name, no-one has yet mistaken him for Eric Clapton.


Follow Martin on Twitter: @MartinRenton