Foundations for success

UK Intermediates Conferences

Year 7-9 / Ages 12-14

Big ideas for curious minds



What to expect on the day

This study day offers a unique provision for academically gifted students.
The aim of this study day is to help curious and ambitious students to:
  • Improve their thinking skills
  • Begin to be able to identify what is fundamental from what is trivial
  • Become intellectually creative
  • Identify assumptions and distinguish between good and poor arguments
  • Think systematically and rigorously about relevant modern day issues

Join us on Snapchat – aconferences – for your daily philosophical thought of the day, plus access to free resources.







Session 1: Genetics, Epigenetics Transhumanism

If you could engineer your child at conception for greater intelligence and athletic ability, would you? Should you? The manipulation of matter at the genetic level is increasingly a part of the world in which we live. It is having a major impact on the testing of embryos as well as in the creation of new crops. It is an unrivalled tool for modern scientific inquiry and yet few people are aware of some critical distinctions between somatic cell engineering and germ line engineering. Its impact will be hard to avoid in the future as it promises radically different ways of thinking about reproduction. This session will examine the nature of this work and outline its future potential and also some possible future pitfalls. As with all scientific inquiry there are ethical implications and these will also be examined, including the risk of future genetic apartheid.




Session 2: Interactive Guided Community of Inquiry The Task:
The Ring of Gyges Challenge

Using a classic text from Plato students will be invited to join a conversation with small groups from other schools to discuss this question using a Community of Inquiry approach. Students will be given a short excerpt and some questions to stimulate conversation in small groups, and then work as a team to reach a set of ideas. Members of the team are encouraged to make quality contributions, but also to help others to contribute. Issues arising will include reflection on whether an intelligent person can be just and moral if not compelled, and whether government can pass laws to make people be moral. All attendant staff will be appointed to a group and will need to help and encourage the discussion without leading it.There will be a plenary to draw ideas together.




Session 3: What Should I do?

There are fewer more important questions in life! This session will help students decide what kind of thinker they are when it comes to big decisions and identify the philosophical foundations for different types of decision-making techniques. A number of big questions will be posed along the way: Does moral value exist? Are some decisions better than others? Deciding well involves examining thoughts very carefully and this will be an opportunity to investigate the very foundations of our thoughts and take time to reflect on how decisions about anything are made. From friendship issues to moral issues, from environment to medical ethics – all decision making requires thought and this session will be an opportunity to think really very deeply!




Session 4: Debate:

This House believes that science has replaced God. Many argue that religion has been shown to be false by science, and that religious mythology has been replaced with scientific facts. However, Einstein famously said that science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. This debate will explore both sides of the argument and give students the opportunity to employ their own skills of persuasion and contribute!


Closing Comments


Julie Arliss

A Farmington Scholar at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, Julie Arliss is a highly accomplished teacher and author. Julie Arliss is a well-known international educator of gifted students with a gift for making the complex simple, and the simple complex. She is committed to the provision of world-class extension activities for these students, to extend their reach well beyond the curriculum to new areas of knowledge. She is on the examining team for Cambridge International Examinations and founder of Academy Learning.

Conference Dates

Additional dates are available on request.


Conference Fees


A fixed fee of £35 each

We have access to sponsorship for students wishing to attend but for whom the cost is a significant challenge for their families. Please contact us for further details.


A fixed fee of £35 each

One free place with every 12 students, the charge for which will be deducted at checkout.

Unaccompanied teachers attending for their own CPD to pay £220.

Please Note

These events fill quickly but we appreciate that many schools need time to collect money from students.

Booking Places at a Conference

Bookings for a conference are usually made by a teacher or other representative from a school, and students attend conference with their school group accompanied by a supervising teacher. The school is invoiced for the number of students and staff attending (if schools require payment from students or parents for attendance, these payments are made to the school).

Please note that we cannot accept bookings for unaccompanied students, and all students attending are required to have a supervising teacher, or parent, with them. This is a workplace health and safety issue, as we do not have the necessary staff to provide supervision of students at the conference, or during meal breaks. [If a school is not attending, and a student from that school wishes to attend independently, they can do so, but they must be accompanied by a supervising adult who is charged at the same rate as the student, and who makes the booking on behalf of the student. A supervising adult can be a parent or other responsible person over 18. The school or parent must give permission for the student to be absent from school on that day]


Arrival and registration: 9:00

Welcome 9:15

First lecture 9:30

School Bookings

For bookings for smaller numbers please address requests to [email protected]

CPD Bookings