Foundations for success

UK Regional Senior Stretch

Years 10-13

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.







Matters of life and death

‘An unexamined life is not worth living’ – Socrates. It seems to be a fundamental part of being human to reflect on our lives and to try to work out how to live and die well. What would a life well lived actually look like? Is there anything fundamentally good about working for a living? Or is the ultimate goal to become a ‘grey nomad’? Would it be better to be ‘a chardonnay socialist’ or a ‘checkout chick’? What would it mean to ‘die well’? Is there anything more to life than this, or is it all just a wombat trail? This session will survey a number of the different answers to these questions and give students a map of the territory identifying the key issues which divide those who take up the Socratic challenge to live an examined life.


Oxbridge Interview Question – Does a Snail have Consciousness?

This Oxbridge Interview question can be approached in many different ways and is designed to really get students engaged at a deep level with one of the most difficult questions in the Universe. What is consciousness, how do we identify it and how did it evolve? It explores the way consciousness is currently measured in animals and humans and the way philosophers have approached consciousness starting with Plato and Aristotle. The question of consciousness remains what is called a HARD problem in science, and this session will help students to get to grips with precisely why that is and suggest a range of directions a deep thinker might take in trying to address it.




Guided Community of Inquiry

The Task – What is Fair?

In this session students will be put into small groups and enjoy a Community of Inquiry. This is a friendly conversation in which students work together to reach a set of thoughts on a particular case study. The aim is not to point score off each other but to help each other out and work creatively as a team. There will be members of staff available to help the conversation if needed, but usually it isn’t. This Community of Inquiry will ask you to interrogate what equality means, and how it relates to discrimination and prejudice. There will be a plenary at the end to draw together the ideas and questions raised.




Martians & Mathematics

The history of mathematics is full of surprisingly creative and playful moments, and major advances often arise from mathematicians who decide to peer behind the curtains and think bigger. In fact, exercises in mathematical rule-breaking almost always turn into things that are profoundly useful! Why is this so? Why is the universe susceptible to mathematical description at all? Is mathematics out there waiting to be discovered, or is it purely a construct of the human mind? Would we expect Martians to have the same mathematics as we do? This session will look at the turning points in the creation of mathematics, and argue that there is fundamental value in an attitude of playfulness and curiosity both in life and our exploration of the universe. 


Debate: This house believes that animals have rights.

Do animals have rights? What are rights and on what basis does anybody have rights? Are rights given by society or are they innate? If animals have rights, what kind of rights would they be? Students will experience a live debate and be encouraged to contribute and to vote. This is a vibrant session and gives an opportunity for the development of a wide range of analytical and evaluative skills.


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.

Richard Biggs

Richard Biggs grew up in South Africa, and after completing his degree in physics, he won a scholarship to University of Oxford where he read mathematics and philosophy at Pembroke College. He has recently retired from being headmaster of Kings College Taunton where he was heavily involved in establishing several new schools in Kenya, the Middle East and India and is currently CEO of Global Education Ventures, establishing world class schools across the globe. He is an outstanding communicator, polymathic in approach and committed to taking the life-affirming richness of education to students across the UK and beyond. He is also an accomplished cook, furniture maker and chorister.

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 staff place with every 12 students booked.

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 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