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James Nottingham

Northumberland, UK


About James

James Nottingham is co-founder and director of Challenging Learning, a group of companies with 30 employees in 6 countries. His passion is in transforming the most up-to-date research into strategies that really work in the classroom. He is regarded by many as one of the most engaging, thought-provoking and inspirational speakers in education.

His first book, Challenging Learning, was published in 2010 and has received widespread critical acclaim. Since then, he has written 6 books for teachers, leaders, support staff, and parents. These books share the best research and practice connected with learning; dialogue; feedback; the Learning Pit; Early Years education; and Growth Mindset. 

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 (a major turnaround after having failed miserably at school). 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 2006, James co-founded Challenging Learning. Now, his team support nurseries, schools, colleges, and school districts with long-term projects that make a significant difference to the lives of ALL learners (staff lives as well as young people’s lives). This support includes keynote speeches, staff workshops, demonstration lessons, coaching, research and analysis, presentations for parents, and excellent teaching resources.

As well as headlining significant national and international conferences himself, James often presents alongside Carol Dweck (Mindset) and John Hattie (Visible Learning).

Skolvärlden (Swedish Teaching Union) describes James as “one of the most talked about names in the world of school development” and the Observer newspaper in the UK listed him among the Future 500 - a “definitive list of the UK's most forward-thinking and brightest innovators.”

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 to get in touch with James Nottingham

Rebecca is PA to James Nottingham and works Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm (UK time). Rebecca is the best contact for all queries regarding James.

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

Biographies & Presenter Information

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