I have participated before in the PLD that James led in Wellington last year. The workshop gave me the opportunity to know about James and his style of delivery and his understanding of how our tamariki can succeed. Outstanding!!! He has a rich knowledge of excellent ideas and strategies to share with us. I am always looking forward to workshops with James and I will definitely recommend it to others. I feel more confident now than before that I will not praise the kids for the sake of it but to support them on their next learning steps.


Olive Masina, Tairangi School


I would recommend an online workshop with James. He presented interesting and useful information in an easy to access format. There were opportunities for small group discussion and to ask questions. I was concerned about maintaining focus staring at the screen all day but having my camera and microphone off freed me up to listen and move around when I needed to. I am processing my next steps from all I learnt today and have decided my first action for tomorrow.

Karen Ataera, teacher, Tairangi School

Challenging Learning

James Nottingham *INTERNATIONAL*

Category:  International, Learning Strategist, Assessment, Growth Mindsets, Deepening Learning, Learning Conversations


COVID-19 - Please note courses with James, for the foreseeable future will be online
Leadership Development Day - 4 hour online
'Leadership, Challenge, and Collective Efficacy: Developing the mental models needed to enhance professional and student learning'

(Organisation of the day - staff can either access remotely, online from their homes, or you can login from school and view James, together, on a big screen in a common area. There will be times set aside for discussion, and after James has completed his presentation you may choose to continue this work among your leadership team for the remainder of your leadership development day. If you are booking on this course as an individual leader, you will be grouped into online discussion groups with others also participating on their own)

28th January 2021
8:30am - 12:30pm
(early bird special $165pp+gst for bookings made by Friday 20th November, or if booking 5 or more staff from the same school)
Audience: Principals, School Leaders, CoL Leaders, Team Leaders


When leaders amplify healthy mental models, and design out the problematic ones, then everyone – staff, students and community – gain significantly. The problem is, those mental models often lie hidden from everyday view and can be resistant to change even when they are uncovered.


In this workshop, James Nottingham – a former school leader and now owner & director of six companies – will share the best strategies he has discovered for creating a culture of learning through the wise reshaping of mental models. He will pay particular attention to common mental models about challenge, progress and grades, behaviour, and collective efficacy.  


Suitable for all leaders, the workshop will help you to:

  • Understand how mental models drive actions and how mindsets impact on expectations

  • Adjust mental models about challenge and mistakes so that staff and students develop resilience, curiosity and a growth mindset

  • Identify the differences between self-esteem and self-efficacy 

  • Collect the evidence needed to show students and their parents that your staff are helping them to make significant progress, and in so doing build collective efficacy 

  • Move from a performance focus to a learning orientation (an emphasis on progress rather than grades) so as to enhance collective efficacy

What does ‘Challenging Learning’ mean?

I chose the name Challenging Learning partly because of the double meaning: challenging the way in which learning takes place and at the same time, making learning more challenging. Many people say that parents these days wrap their children in cotton wool, smoothing the way to ensure their little darlings don’t encounter difficulties. In educational terms this is problematic because it is only when children and young people engage in challenging tasks and come across problems that they have the opportunity to develop important life skills such as problem solving, higher order thinking and collaborative skills, as well as personal attributes such as resilience, determination and self efficacy. So, as a company we look at ways to challenge the way learning takes place – at school, pre-school and at home. We draw on the most up-to-date research about challenge, feedback, thinking skills, dialogue, Philosophy for Children, Visible Learning, and Dweck Mindsets to identify the best strategies for making learning more challenging, engaging, motivating and successful.

~ James Nottingham




James' areas of expertise: Challenge, Progress and Achievement, Growth Mindset, Visible Learning, Feedback, the Learning Pit, Philosophy for Children, Leadership and Strategy.