Having graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2011 with a 1st Class degree in Architecture, Nicola went on to become a TeachFirst 2012 Ambassador before completing her Masters in Educational Leadership through the University of Warwick in 2016.


Having taught secondary mathematics in the UK for two years, she moved to Singapore to begin teaching at the United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA) - a move that was inspired by her time spent working in China during her undergraduate studies.


The holistic nature of education at UWCSEA saw Nicola take on a wide variety of roles including teaching high school mathematics, coordinating the school’s gap year and internship programme and leading outdoor education expeditions to Japan and Malaysia. Most influentially, Nicola was introduced to the concept of service-learning, a pedagogical approach that promotes active citizenship through combining elements of community service with scaffolded classroom instruction. During her four years in Singapore, she facilitated many service-learning projects that saw her students partnering with local community groups in a mutually beneficial and sustainable manner. Her experiences include coordinating student-led 

As a TeachFirst Ambassador, Nicola is passionate about addressing educational disadvantage in the UK. She believes that the notion of being poor should be discussed as a lack of access, not just to finances, but to all things that make our lives rich. When comparing her experiences in the International School system with her time spent teaching in UK state education, she came to view service-learning as an enriching experience, present in the first and notably absent in the latter. It was this realisation that led her to start 1000daysofdifferences - a project that seeks to broaden the horizons of students in UK states schools, by facilitating opportunities for them to interact with members of society who have different life experiences than their own.


Outside of Education, Nicola enjoys spending time volunteering in her local community with groups such as South London Cares and the Migration Museum Project. She enjoys spending her free time dancing with Havana Londres, singing with the Coro de Clave Community Choir and playing the marimba and mbira. She continues to utilise her maths teaching background through running intervention sessions with MathsMakers UK and tutoring looked after children with Equal Education. 


projects singing with the Down Syndrome Association, drumming with the Asian Women's Welfare Association and organising weekly whole school fruit collections for migrant construction workers. Nicola believes that, when done properly, service-learning can nurture empathetic, curious and openminded young people who will go on to become active, accepting and caring future community builders.  


Nicola Coles is a former mathematics teacher and the founder of 1000daysofdifferences.​ 

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