Welcome to The Learning Challenge

#LearningChallenge #TheLearningPit @TheLearningPit

Welcome to The Learning Challenge

#LearningChallenge #TheLearningPit @TheLearningPit

Welcome to The Learning Challenge

#LearningChallenge #TheLearningPit @TheLearningPit

“The Learning Challenge has become one of the most powerful and popular heuristics of learning over the past 20 years.”  Professor Barry Hymer, University of Cumbria, UK

“In beautifully simple and clear language, The Learning Challenge presents a comprehensive methodology to bring philosophical inquiry to everyday learning.”  Daniel Fisherman, Montclair State University, NJ

“Profound, practical and precise: The Learning Challenge shows how to make your classroom a place where young people love to be.”  Professor Guy Claxton, King’s College, London


The Learning Challenge

By James Nottingham (2017)

The Learning Challenge describes the theory and practice of guiding students through the ‘Learning Pit’. It is a practical book filled with ideas for making lessons engaging, thought provoking and collaborative.


This book includes so many worthwhile processes to invoke the various stages of learning, to show the connections between these stages, and to identify evidence of impact from techniques that have been tried and tested in many contexts around the world by James Nottingham and his team. It is a pleasure reading a book that puts the challenge back into learning.

John Hattie, 2017

Learning Challenge Testimonials

  • “Teachers use initiatives, such as the ‘learning pit’, very effectively across the school to engage pupils in discussion and to build resilience and a determination to succeed. As a result, pupils demonstrate an exceptional attitude to learning.”

    Ofsted Report, April 2018

    Brudenell Primary School, Leeds
  • “Your input as a team has had a considerable impact on all of our staff and was certainly a contributing factor to the positive reports we received from the inspectors.”

    Headteacher’s report, Feb 2018

    Brechin High School, Angus
  • “The school develops pupils’ resilience and perseverance very effectively. This is evident throughout the work of the school. For example, in lessons, teachers refer regularly to the ‘learning pit’ as a method for pupils to overcome difficulties when they are stuck.”

    Estyn report, Dec 2017

    Merllyn CP School, Flintshire
  • 'Over time, you have created some unique features of the school, (including) the ‘learning pit’, a helpful tool to enable pupils to describe how they are feeling about the difficulty of a task. This contributes to an enriching learning experience for pupils.'

    Ofsted report, Nov 2017

    Minster Primary School, Ramsgate, Kent
  • "In one corner of the learning zone is the Learning Pit. This is the place that the children go to if they are struggling with a challenge. Here they will be helped through resources and advice to develop strategies to tackle the issue that they are finding a challenge.”

    A Study of Outstanding Primary School Leadership in England

    National College for Teaching & Leadership: A Study of Outstanding Primary School Leadership in England, Oct 2014, pg. 223
  • “Pupils are resilient and have a good understanding of how to improve their own learning. They explained clearly how they might struggle at first, or ‘fall into the learning pit’ as they described it, before fully understanding a new concept.”

    Ofsted report, July 201

    Robert Bakewell Primary School, Loughborough

    A Guide to The Learning Pit

    This document is an authorised extract from The Learning Challenge: Guiding Students Through The Learning Pit by James Nottingham. All Rights Reserved. If you’d like to reference any of the content in the English-language version of the book, please use a widely used standard referencing system for example: Nottingham, J. (2017) “The Learning Challenge. How to Guide Your Students Through the Learning Pit.” Thousand Oaks, Corwin Sage. Page Range. Use a similar style for other-language versions of the book.

    The Learning Pit intro by James Nottingham

    Resource Library

    Search online for ‘The Learning Pit” and you will get more than 2 million hits. So, there’s no question about the model’s popularity. However, some of the variants are misleading and many are referenced incorrectly. So, here are some templates to help you create your own brilliant – and accurate – versions of The Learning Challenge.

    Remember: if you reference your image (“By (your name and/or twitter name), based on James Nottingham’s Learning Challenge”) then we will be happy to help share your creations far and wide.

    Copyright notice: The materials contained in this website are copyrighted, and the availability of these materials does not constitute a transfer of any intellectual property rights. James Nottingham encourages users to download, customise and use these materials to support learning but the materials and any derivatives created by users may not be sold or distributed without the written consent of Challenging Learning.

    Please use the following when referencing the Learning Challenge/Learning Pit:

    The Learning Pit is based on James Nottingham’s widely used concept that first appeared in journals throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s and then in James’s first book, Challenging Learning (JN Publishing, 2010). In 2017, The Learning Challenge by James Nottingham, a new book exploring the concept in depth was published in English, Swedish and Danish. More information at www.bit.ly/bookscl

    Further info at www.thelearningchallenge.co.uk and on twitter @TheLearningPit

    Weekly Wobble

    Being in the pit involves a cognitive wobble. This is when you hold two or more opinions that are in conflict with each other. Although frustrating at times, this wobble can lead onto a deeper understanding of concepts and to a strengthening of learning outcomes.

    To help you on this adventure, we offer concept suggestions. To receive our short Weekly Wobble bulletin, sign up here.

    The Learning Challenge on Twitter