Thriving Minds

UK Senior Programme

United Kingdom

Learning Lab

For More Able and Ambitious Years 10-13

UK Senior Blended Learning

Why a Blended Learning Course?

  • Online Oxbridge Masterclass education
  • Promote equity and excellence for diverse learners
  • Target the development of capabilities in GT students
  • Add depth, complexity and richness
  • Challenge more able students with abstract ideas
  • Engage the thinker within
  • Learn from world-class thinkers

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

Online Course Content

Tell us about a Cactus

Oxbridge Interview Question: Here’s a Cactus. Tell us About it. 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.  This thorny question will be examined as a test case.

Climate Crisis

A Slow Strange Death – The Failure of Environmental Economics

Peter Baron (Alumni of University of Oxford)

Without a basic understanding of Economics it is impossible to understand how the current environmental crisis happened, or how to resolve it. In a lively interactive session, students will be introduced via various engaging case studies, to the core concepts of neo-classical Economics, such as marginal gains, incentives, externalities, the invisible hand, black box thinking and division of labour. This session will argue that the philosophical foundations of this view are bankrupt and that it has failed to embrace the issues of future generations (climate change), minority groups (poorer countries) and meaningful measure of welfare (happiness). It will be argued that we need to become a different sort of economic animal if we are to rescue the environment. A polymathic insight into the philosophy of economics.

Aristotle and his big idea

Aristotle 384-322 BCE and his Big Idea

Julie Arliss

In Nicomachean Ethics (Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια) Aristotle applied himself to the question of how best to cultivate the young people of Athens, so that they would grow up to be HAPPY. The work is named after and addressed to his son, Nicomachus, and many regard it as the first ever ‘self-help’ book for teenagers! This session will examine the big idea that he develops in relation to, ‘What is normal for humans?’ and explain how this idea is core to most modern-day well-being programmes in schools. The human function, reason-infused virtue, final cause, eudaimonia and habituation will all be explained and students will be encouraged to think for themselves and evaluate claims about the modern day relevance of ancient wisdom.

Big Data and Social Media

Social Physics

Julie Arliss

The engine that drives social physics is big data: the newly ubiquitous digital data now available about all aspects of human life. What are the connections between human behaviour and the digital bread crumbs we all leave behind us as we move through the world. Who we really are is most accurately pictured by big data which captures where we actually spend our time and which things we buy. The process of looking at this data is called ‘reality mining’. The work of Social Physicist, Alex Pentland, living laboratories, socioscopes and modern-day tribes will be explained and examined in this interactive session.

me too movement

The BIG Debate

This house believes that ‘enthusiastic consent’ is not enough.

Julie Arliss & Peter Baron

In the wake of the #MeToo Movement ‘enthusiastic consent’ has been recommended as the gold standard for respectful engagement in relationships. However, while it has been recommended that it should be taught to young people, it has often struggled to make it into Law. So, what is ‘enthusiastic consent’ and is it possible to prove absence of consent to a legal standard? Students are invited to participate in what promises to be a lively debate, and to share their own ideas about this and the much wider issues it raises. A highly relevant, timely topic which our more able students will find challenging and engaging.

Contributors to the UK 2020 Programme

Julie Arliss

Julie Arliss

Recently awarded a Farmington Fellowshipby 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 on the examining team for Cambridge International Examinations and founder of Thriving Minds.

Peter Baron

Peter Baron

Peter Baron read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford before completing his M Litt. He is a popular and energetic speaker who has worked for many years with more able students both in schools and as a personal tutor. He is chief editor and principle author of philosophical investigations, a popular online community for philosophy which is an excellent resource for students. He also runs his own publishing house and is the author of a number of popular books. He is an educational consultant for Critical Thinking and has worked closely with Thriving Minds for many years.

Tuition fees: A fixed fee of £30.

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. One free staff place with every 12 students booked.

The price includes Learning Lab access for 2 months.


Registration can be at any time on or after the advertised release date. The individual course will contain an end date. Teachers or students may commence a course at any point between these two dates.

Please note our Terms and Conditions, which provide a sliding scale by which payment for bookings can be made in time in order to avoid additional charges.


Teachers or other representatives in schools normally complete the booking process. In some cases, students or their parents may book for online courses. Students will attend conferences with their school group accompanied by a supervising teacher. They will usually complete an online course under the supervision of a member of staff but there is the facility for individual students to enrol and complete online courses by themselves.

The person making the booking is invoiced.

Student & Staff Bookings

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