UK student conference

More Able and Ambitious Programme 2022

London 23rd November 2022 and Oxford 9th March 2023

What to Expect on the Day

This is a day for bright ambitious students who are interested in ideas. The best way to stretch clever youngsters is to give them a solid platform from which key questions and big ideas can be explored. Students will spend the day with like-minded youngsters all keen to reach the ceiling of their ability and share ideas. Experienced gifted educator, Julie Arliss and lecturers from Oxford University, Aberdeen University and London University will stretch and challenge your students. This is a unique, not to be missed, opportunity for your students.

Why Attend?

  • Oxbridge Masterclass
  • Promote equity and excellence for diverse learners
  • Target the development of capabilities in GT students
  • Add depth, complexity and richness
  • Challenge GT students with abstract ideas
  • Engage the thinker within
  • Share ideas with like-minded people
  • Meet world-class thinkers

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


Justice Truth and Beauty

Julie Arliss

Justice truth and beauty all please and attract us. Beauty is always a reason to attend to a thing that possesses it, but what is it? Is it just a brain thing? Are our judgments of beauty, whether a beautiful person, a piece of music or an object, real or subjective? This session will introduce students to theories of beauty (aesthetics), justice and truth, and use contemporary examples to explore the complexity of our judgements. The difficulties of living in a society where beauty has become almost an ethical ideal will also be examined. Contemporary examples will be used to illuminate the complexity of the issues and how this impacts on the way we think about other areas of human knowledge.

bodies can hold knowledge

Rock in 11 Dimensions: Where Physics and Guitars Collide

Dr Mark Lewney
This mind-expanding and ear-stimulating lecture will address some of the biggest ideas in contemporary science. The Rock Doctor, Dr Mark Lewney will use his skill with a rock guitar to explore the physics of sound; show how string vibrations might answer questions about the Big Bang; and, how the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – the biggest experiment ever built – might let us peek into extra dimensions. With hands on demonstrations, mind-bending animations and expert guitar playing, this lecture will get the audience thinking in multiple dimensions. It will also share the wonder and excitement of how innovative experiments, all using the LHC at CERN will give us a glimpse of what the universe was like in its first trillionth of a second, and may even help us discover the origins and nature of matter.
secret of happiness

The Psychology of Outstanding Achievement

Dr Christopher O’Neill
Contrary to popular belief outstanding achievement in everything and anything from maths to marathons, classics to clarinet, from footie to physics does not ultimately depend upon innate intelligence or ability. There are a number of important factors leading to outstanding achievement which, unlike your genetic profile, are entirely under your control. This session will examine the hard evidence of what really produces a life of outstanding achievement. A fascinating interactive examination of what really makes a difference.
Aristotle and his big idea

Oxbridge Interview Questions Examined

Julie Arliss
At Oxford University, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world, admission interview questions are designed to give candidates a chance to show their real ability and potential – which means seeing if a candidate can think laterally, and apply their thinking to new ideas, and different contexts. Interviews are not about reciting what you already know, rather, they give candidates a chance to show their real ability and potential. There is no ‘right’ answer to many of the questions: the focus is on how well you can think. This session will provide students with essential Oxbridge standard thinking tools, and ideas for developing high-level lateral thinking skills. A number of questions will be examined as test cases.

The Big Debate

Mind-body-which to exercise

This house believes that it isn’t OK to make comments about other peoples’ bodies

This debate will incorporate a number of relevant issues such whether the act of commenting on a person’s physical appearance is just a basic human freedom, or, as it is sometimes claimed, an act of appearance discrimination. Body image anxiety is widespread and created by a culture where there is pressure to meet a certain ideal ‘look’, so is it better to say nothing at all?

This is an opportunity for students to contribute to this highly relevant debate topic. What do you think and can you persuade others to agree with you? An opportunity for persuasive speech and creative thinking on your feet.


Julie Arliss

A Farmington Scholar at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, Julie Arliss is a highly accomplished teacher and author. She 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 a former principal examiner for Cambridge International Examinations and founder of Academy Learning.
Dr Chris Neill

Dr Chris O’Neill

Dr Chris O’Neill is a psychologist, registered psychotherapist and trained counsellor, with training in several therapeutic modalities from psychoanalysis to clinical hypnosis. He initiated the large-scale MYRIAD research project in Oxford University investigating resilience and well-being in young people. Member of Senior Common Room at Harris Manchester College, Oxford. He also has forty years’ experience of working with students and staff in schools and is an exceptional educator.
Dr Mark Lewney

Dr Mark Lewney

Dr Mark Lewney is a professional physicist who uses the science of electric guitars to explore the nature of reality and string theory. He has appeared on BBC’s Newsnight and on BBC’s Xchange as well as on the Money programme and Radio 4. He is an experienced educator and lectures across the UK. Mark has been on a national UK school tour, on behalf of the Institute of Physics, featured in the Guardian and Physics World and also gave a talk at the Tokyo International Science Festival. Mark is a popular speaker on Academy Conferences UK highly able programmes.

“A cross between Einstein and Jimi Hendrix” –Times Higher Education Supplement

“A breath of fresh air”



23rd November 2022

London Bloomsbury Baptist Church, Shaftesbury Avenue


9th March 2023

Oxford Town Hall, St Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1BX


Conference Fees


A fixed fee of £35 [£30 until 7 October]

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 [£30 until 7 October]

One free staff place with every 12 students booked.

Unaccompanied teachers attending for 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 student rate, and who makes the booking]

Arrival and Registration

From 9.30am. The program begins promptly at 10.00am and concludes at 3.15pm.

Note: times for London conference as follows – 10.00 arrival; 10.30 start; 3.45pm finish.

Student & Staff Bookings

Please enter a number greater than or equal to 5.
Please enter a number greater than or equal to 1.
For bookings for smaller numbers please address requests to [email protected]

Continuing Professional Development Bookings