James completed a B.Ed degree at King Alfred College (now the Univresity of Winchester) in 1978 and then was SU President for two years. Between 1980 and 1988 he was the East Midlands Regional Officer for the National Union of Students; based at Loughborough Students Union. In this role he provided training and support to student officers in 70 universities and colleges and promoted NUS campaigns at a local level. In 1989 he completed a Masters Degree in Public Service Management at Birmingham University.

For nearly thirty years he taught in a variety of inner London primary schools; including being a headteacher and setting up a children’s centre.

James has also created educational materials for several organisations including Nat West Bank and Legoland.

He now lives in East Sussex with his family, working as a part time tutor and doing a lot of gardening.