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Consultancy to Strengthen Learning

HomePD Options

Institute & Student-free Days

Whole staff days, half days, and twilights; available onsite or online (or both)

All staff: we design professional learning that is suitable for ALL staff, including leaders, teachers, support staff, administrators, and board members.

All phases: a distinct aspect of our work is our ability to connect with staff in all phrases: preschool, primary, middle, secondary and college – in fact, this is mentioned in every piece of feedback we receive.

Invite your networks: we are happy to work with any sized group so feel free to share the costs by inviting guests – as far as we’re concerned, the more the merrier.

Term-time Options

The professional learning we offer on ‘normal’ days when students are present include:

Demonstration lessons: observe us working with your students, using the questioning strategies, thinking moves, and problem-solving techniques we recommend across the curriculum.

Learning walks: offering you a comparison between your learning culture and those of other contexts we work with around the world. Our reports are always aspirational and encouraging, never critical or political.

Staff, student & parent support: we coach leaders & teachers; work with parents; gather insights through student voice; team teach; and support & guide planning.

Term-time Options

The professional learning we offer on ‘normal’ days when students are present include:

Demonstration lessons: observe us working with your students, using the questioning strategies, thinking moves, and problem-solving techniques we recommend across the curriculum.

Learning walks: offering you a comparison between your learning culture and those of other contexts we work with around the world. Our reports are always aspirational and encouraging, never critical or political.

Staff, student & parent support: we coach leaders & teachers; work with parents; gather insights through student voice; team teach; and support & guide planning.

Long-term Projects

So far, 450+ schools & pre-schools in 11 countries have gained significantly from our 2–3-year process:

In-depth process: helping everyone align towards your vision; improve coaching outcomes; build leadership capacity; and enhance professional dialogue.

Noticeable & significant gains: using staff interviews, observation reports and student voice, we’ll provide you with in-depth progress reports to inform and reassure.

Value for money: every school and district we’ve supported long-term have saved money through reduced staff absence, improved recruitment, and increased student rolls.

Leaders' Support

Supporting all middle, senior and aspiring leaders to develop their vision, values & protocols.

Supporting all leaders: working one-to-one or with small groups of leaders, we offer attention, empathy, encouragement and, when appropriate, modelling of good practice.

Focused on growth: we can help you build alignment towards your vision in a way that builds the capacity and efficacy of all members of your learning community.

You choose the focus: options include co-constructing or reviewing your plans; building a shared language for learning; problem-solving issues; being a shoulder to cry on …

Leaders' Support

Supporting all middle, senior and aspiring leaders to develop their vision, values & protocols.

Supporting all leaders: working one-to-one or with small groups of leaders, we offer attention, empathy, encouragement and, when appropriate, modelling of good practice.

Focused on growth: we can help you build alignment towards your vision in a way that builds the capacity and efficacy of all members of your learning community.

You choose the focus: options include co-constructing or reviewing your plans; building a shared language for learning; problem-solving issues; being a shoulder to cry on …

Online Options

Offering maximum flexibility to reduce obstacles such as cost, travel, language, or pandemics.

Book with confidence: ensure everyone can take part and keep costs to a minimum by choosing online delivery – either as the preferred option or as a compliment / replacement for onsite PD.

Plan for depth: one-off sessions work really well; booking a series of sessions supported by action learning and reflection in between can deepen the impact further.

Coaching: refine and problem-solve the elements of your practice you are most interested in. Available one-to-one or with small groups of staff and/or leaders.

Asynchronous Learning

Engage whenever & however you wish, irrespective of sartorial choices (pyjamas always welcome).

Commissioned videos: tell us what you want, and we’ll record a video for you, with graphics and subtitles in any language you choose. See example

Learning Pit Academy: take a deep dive into the Learning Pit, leading to accreditation as a Learning Pit trainer and advisor. Engage with participants around the world. Visit our Academy

Review and repeat: you are welcome to access a recording of live event(s), together with a PDF of all slides used, so staff can rewatch or catch-up in their own time (perfect for onboarding new staff).

Asynchronous Learning

Engage whenever & however you wish, irrespective of sartorial choices (pyjamas always welcome).

Commissioned videos: tell us what you want, and we’ll record a video for you, with graphics and subtitles in any language you choose. See example

Learning Pit Academy: take a deep dive into the Learning Pit, leading to accreditation as a Learning Pit trainer and advisor. Engage with participants around the world. Visit our Academy

Review and repeat: you are welcome to access a recording of live event(s), together with a PDF of all slides used, so staff can rewatch or catch-up in their own time (perfect for onboarding new staff).

Study Tours

Having run 12-20 study tours per year, we are pleased to offer you these possibilities:

Be inspired: we have an exceptional network of schools and pre-schools who would be delighted to share their Learning Pit practices with you.

Choose from: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Scotland, Singapore, Sweden, USA, Wales.

Optional extras: study tours can include workshops with our team; demonstration lessons; tourist activities; and interviews with renowned authors & influencers.

Our Commitment To You

From the day our team was created in 1999, we have committed to the following principles:
  • We will give you our very best blend of research analysis, high expectations, good humour, and practical advice – all tailor-made for your context.
  • We will be clear about what works best. Rather than flipping from one buzz word to another, we’ll stay true to the vision, values and strategies that enable ALL students (& staff) to thrive.
  • We will walk the talk – give us any class of students, any age and we’ll run demonstration lessons for you to observe & review.

Outcomes You Can Expect

Independent evaluations of support from the Learning Pit team show this type of impact:
  • Students are more willing to take intellectual risks, ask thoughtful questions, and engage in challenging tasks with a sense of efficacy & resilience.
  • Staff and students are more likely to value feedback, using it to effectively deepen their learning.
  • Dialogue more frequently and effectively supports students as they progress from surface knowledge to deep learning.
  • Students and their parents are more likely to value the quality of education and the expertise of staff.
  • Greater emphasis is placed on ‘progress for all’ so that improvement and attainment become the basis for holistic and lifelong learning.

Common Questions & Answers

Why should I choose Learning Pit rather than another provider?

Our main consultants work with us full-time, allowing us to bring a consistency of values, processes and strategies that are remarked upon time and time again. This model contrasts with many other educational consultancies who tend to be sole traders or loose affiliations of many sole traders.

We invest in our team by challenging, encouraging and coaching throughout the year, as well as coming together regularly to focus on vision, values and recent research. Our consultants stay current through pro bono work in a variety of classrooms and contexts; and our office staff are always a central part of all our professional learning. Engage with us and you will meet a team serious about learning who never take themselves too seriously. We’ll send you consultants with ‘Learning Pit in the blood’ and our office staff will be just as dedicated. We’ll support you with preview documents; progress reports; teaching resources; and a named point of contact. We’ll be on hand when you need us to reassure, challenge, inform and encourage. Choose us and we’ll prioritise you from start to finish.

What sort of consultancy does Learning Pit provide?

Our two most popular types of consultancy are the long-term projects we call the CLP (Learning Pit Process) and the keynotes offered by James Nottingham. We also do a lot of in-school consultancy; put on conferences and institutes; and host study tours that include visits to pre-schools, schools and colleges we’ve helped to improve.

Our main themes are challenge; collective efficacy; dialogue; feedback; growth mindset; the Learning Pit; Philosophy for Children; progress; questioning. We work with all staff connected to the education of students aged 3-19, including teachers, leaders, support staff, coaches, consultants, directors and superintendents.

In addition to our consultancy services, we also have a range of books, lesson resources, videos, and Learning Pit downloads.

What is the focus of the Learning Pit consultancy?

We want to help make learning more challenging; and we want educators to think about how to build a culture where all learners are supported.

We know that more learning happens when people step outside their comfort zone; that more reflection and strategy comes from mistakes than from easy success.

And yet, all too often educators try to make things easier for their students; partly because they don’t want lessons to descend into chaos when everyone is confused, but mainly because there simply isn’t time for confusion – there’s too much information to get through and the exams are just around the corner! Parents are also susceptible: witness the increasing number of terms used to describe those who would design struggle out of their children’s lives: ‘helicopter parents’; ‘curling parents’; ‘snowplough parents’; ‘bonsai parents’ and so on.

Our proposition is to go contrary to these latest trends by introducing more challenge, not less. Encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone; to investigate; to seek alternatives; to reject easy answers; to engage in more thoughtful questioning; to seek reasons and counter-arguments. In other words: to seek out challenge rather than to avoid it; to go into the Learning Pit rather than play it safe and stick to what you know.

We show educators how this can be done, even with a crowded curriculum, hesitant students and helicopter parents. We share research that confirms people have to struggle if they are to remember lessons long into the future; that more learning comes from examining mistakes than from verifying answers.

We make learning more challenging because the evidence is clear: we all grow when we step out of our comfort zone. And we challenge the way learning takes place because there’s always a better way – be it more effective, more efficient, more ethical or more collaborative.

Do you offer anything for parents?

Most of our work is with teachers, leaders and support staff working with 3-19-year-olds. However, when we do long-term work with schools, pre-schools or colleges, we often also run parent workshops in which we share the latest research and best ideas for supporting children’s learning. This includes how (and how not) to praise; how to help children get into a growth mindset, develop self-esteem and build self-efficacy; giving advice about grading and labelling; looking at the best ways to approach mistakes and failure; practising questioning that engages curiosity and conversation; and developing a range of strategies for reasoning and reasonable behaviour.

As well as these workshops, we recommend Encouraging Learning by James Nottingham (2013). This inspiring, humorous, and practical book will show you what to do to help children of all ages develop into confident, thoughtful and independent learners.

Do you offer anything for individual teachers as well as teams?

We host conferences, workshops and roadshows – all of which are available to individuals as well as groups and teams. There are also all nine of our books, plus the lesson ideas, downloadable resources and videos available on this site.

What’s the best type of professional development for my team?

Get in touch and we’ll help you decide! We’ll ask you a few questions about your context and your aims, then offer some suggestions for your next steps. We won’t push and we won’t offer you a pre-formulated package. Instead, we’ll listen carefully to your thoughts and then help you design the best blend of resources, support and consultancy that builds capacity and leads to significant and sustainable improvements in teaching, learning and leadership.

TALK WITH US ...

We’ll connect with you via phone or video call to answer your questions

TALK WITH OTHERS ...

We’ll put you in touch with people already working with Challenging Learning to give you an insider’s view of our services

REQUEST A PROPOSAL ...

We’ll send you a detailed draft proposal, showing the extent of our support and the costs involved

TALK FACE-TO-FACE ...

We’ll arrange to meet your key decision-makers face-to-face

GO ON A STUDY TOUR ...

We’ll organise a study tour for you and your colleagues to visit some of the schools and districts making gains with the support of Challenging Learning

Common Questions & Answers

Why should I choose Learning Pit rather than another provider?

Our main consultants work with us full-time, allowing us to bring a consistency of values, processes and strategies that are remarked upon time and time again. This model contrasts with many other educational consultancies who tend to be sole traders or loose affiliations of many sole traders.

We invest in our team by challenging, encouraging and coaching throughout the year, as well as coming together regularly to focus on vision, values and recent research. Our consultants stay current through pro bono work in a variety of classrooms and contexts; and our office staff are always a central part of all our professional learning. Engage with us and you will meet a team serious about learning who never take themselves too seriously. We’ll send you consultants with ‘Learning Pit in the blood’ and our office staff will be just as dedicated. We’ll support you with preview documents; progress reports; teaching resources; and a named point of contact. We’ll be on hand when you need us to reassure, challenge, inform and encourage. Choose us and we’ll prioritise you from start to finish.

What sort of consultancy does Learning Pit provide?

Our two most popular types of consultancy are the long-term projects we call the CLP (Learning Pit Process) and the keynotes offered by James Nottingham. We also do a lot of in-school consultancy; put on conferences and institutes; and host study tours that include visits to pre-schools, schools and colleges we’ve helped to improve.

Our main themes are challenge; collective efficacy; dialogue; feedback; growth mindset; the Learning Pit; Philosophy for Children; progress; questioning. We work with all staff connected to the education of students aged 3-19, including teachers, leaders, support staff, coaches, consultants, directors and superintendents.

In addition to our consultancy services, we also have a range of books, lesson resources, videos, and Learning Pit downloads.

What is the focus of the Learning Pit consultancy?

We want to help make learning more challenging; and we want educators to think about how to build a culture where all learners are supported.

We know that more learning happens when people step outside their comfort zone; that more reflection and strategy comes from mistakes than from easy success.

And yet, all too often educators try to make things easier for their students; partly because they don’t want lessons to descend into chaos when everyone is confused, but mainly because there simply isn’t time for confusion – there’s too much information to get through and the exams are just around the corner! Parents are also susceptible: witness the increasing number of terms used to describe those who would design struggle out of their children’s lives: ‘helicopter parents’; ‘curling parents’; ‘snowplough parents’; ‘bonsai parents’ and so on.

Our proposition is to go contrary to these latest trends by introducing more challenge, not less. Encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone; to investigate; to seek alternatives; to reject easy answers; to engage in more thoughtful questioning; to seek reasons and counter-arguments. In other words: to seek out challenge rather than to avoid it; to go into the Learning Pit rather than play it safe and stick to what you know.

We show educators how this can be done, even with a crowded curriculum, hesitant students and helicopter parents. We share research that confirms people have to struggle if they are to remember lessons long into the future; that more learning comes from examining mistakes than from verifying answers.

We make learning more challenging because the evidence is clear: we all grow when we step out of our comfort zone. And we challenge the way learning takes place because there’s always a better way – be it more effective, more efficient, more ethical or more collaborative.

Do you offer anything for parents?

Most of our work is with teachers, leaders and support staff working with 3-19-year-olds. However, when we do long-term work with schools, pre-schools or colleges, we often also run parent workshops in which we share the latest research and best ideas for supporting children’s learning. This includes how (and how not) to praise; how to help children get into a growth mindset, develop self-esteem and build self-efficacy; giving advice about grading and labelling; looking at the best ways to approach mistakes and failure; practising questioning that engages curiosity and conversation; and developing a range of strategies for reasoning and reasonable behaviour.

As well as these workshops, we recommend Encouraging Learning by James Nottingham (2013). This inspiring, humorous, and practical book will show you what to do to help children of all ages develop into confident, thoughtful and independent learners.

Do you offer anything for individual teachers as well as teams?

We host conferences, workshops and roadshows – all of which are available to individuals as well as groups and teams. There are also all nine of our books, plus the lesson ideas, downloadable resources and videos available on this site.

What’s the best type of professional development for my team?

Get in touch and we’ll help you decide! We’ll ask you a few questions about your context and your aims, then offer some suggestions for your next steps. We won’t push and we won’t offer you a pre-formulated package. Instead, we’ll listen carefully to your thoughts and then help you design the best blend of resources, support and consultancy that builds capacity and leads to significant and sustainable improvements in teaching, learning and leadership.

TALK WITH US ...

We’ll connect with you via phone or video call to answer your questions

TALK WITH OTHERS ...

We’ll put you in touch with people already working with Challenging Learning to give you an insider’s view of our services

SEND A PROPOSAL ...

We’ll send you a detailed draft proposal, showing the extent of our support and the costs involved

TALK FACE-TO-FACE ...

We’ll arrange to meet your key decision-makers face-to-face

STUDY TOUR ...

We’ll organise a study tour for you and your colleagues to visit some of the schools and districts making gains with the support of Challenging Learning

Regional Contacts

Head Office (UK)
engage@learningpit.org
T: +44 1670 330036

USA (CST)
Carmen Bergmann
T: +1 309 825 4623

Australia (AEST)
Emma Robertson
T: +61 457 632 398

Japan
Clare Barnfather
T: +81 90 6434 1256

Head Office Address

Challenging Learning,
2 Linnet Court,
Cawledge Business Park,
Alnwick, Northumberland,
NE66 2GD, UK

The Learning Pit is part of the Challenging Learning group with offices in the UK, Australia, Japan, Scandinavia, USA

Get in touch