Advanced Learners


Students in KS3 and KS4, who consistently demonstrate excellence across a range of curriculum areas, are invited to participate in the Advanced Learner Programme.

The Advanced Learner Programme (ALP) offers exceptional students additional and exciting opportunities to flourish through carefully constructed challenge within the curriculum, and through a wide and enriching range of bespoke extra-curricular activities.

The Programme seeks to support ALP students to develop sky high ambition and concrete belief that there is ‘no lid’ on what they can achieve, both inside and outside the classroom. ALP students are encouraged to foster a genuine growth mindset and embrace their passion for thinking, questioning and creating.

Teaching and learning at SBS incorporates carefully designed strategies to offer this stretch and challenge in the classroom, and the extra-curricular part of the programme offers rich and varied experiences throughout the school year. Year 7 Advanced Learners are identified at the end of term 1, based on a combination of KS2 results and recommendations from class teachers and heads of faculty.

Here are some of the experiences our ALP students have been able to take part in so far:

  • STEM Club with external supervisors
  • Debating competitions
  • The Oxfordshire Mock Trial Competition
  • Additional Language acquisition (Mandarin, Latin)
  • Engineering Days
  • Guest speakers
  • Trips to various Higher Educational Facilities
  • Oracy Days


If you would like further details about the ALP, please contact Miss Gooch,  Advanced Learners Programme Lead.

Year 10 ALP Trip to Oxford University

On the 16th of January, year 10 Advanced Learner Programme, students attended a tour and talks at Harris-Manchester University of Oxford.

Once we arrived, we were greeted by the principal of the college, Reverend Dr Waller, who gave us a tour around the complex, including the library and the chapel. On the staircase hangs a letter which, Dr Waller claimed, contained a spelling mistake! In the library we were also shown a magnificent stained glass window, on which were all the patrons of this college.

We ended up in a room in the old principal’s lodgings to hear a professor of diabetes talk on scientific models and their limits and accuracies, and one from a professor of mathematics on study tips and organisation. We began with models and the professor immediately filled up a large tin bath with water and sailed a boat on it, before promptly demonstrating a cascade system, where marbles, through levers and pulleys lifted and dropped a cobbler’s last. He finished his demonstrations with inflating a paddling pool, dying the earlier water red, standing an electronic pump in the paddling pool and turning it on to show just how powerful the heart is. As it turns out, very powerful, he had to dash to the other side with a bucket to stop a torrent of water cascading onto the principal’s carpet.

He concluded by saying that although models are all well and good, they can also be a hindrance. The maths professor took over next, and told us the four key points to exam success; practice (10,000 hours to be approximate!), self-control, mind-set and concentration. These, he said, would make us achieve the exam results we wanted.

After lunch, we headed to a deceptively large chapel and met the principal of music. He played us Widor’s toccata from his fifth organ symphony and we all gathered round to watch. After an incredible piece, we had a go at “clapping music” by American composer, Steve Reich.

I feel that it was a fantastic trip, and would like to thank Miss Froud-Davis, Ms Froud and Mr Skae for organising it and accompanying us.

William Brawn 10.5

Year 10 ALP Trip to Crown Packaging PLC

‘Never would you believe the amount of work that goes into creating cans’. This is a direct quote from one of the year 10 students after his day at Crown Packaging in Wantage.

Students began their day with a tour around the warehouse facilities, looking at the machines that make cans from scratch, and listening to talks about the various techniques that the company use to make their tins durable, cost effective, and in many cases aesthetically altered to suit the clients requirements. Students were able to see the formation of drinks cans, food produce cans, and aerosol cans in different shapes, sizes and with different components.

Following their tours, students spent time in the Design Centre looking at cutting edge concepts for producing increased sales, such as utilising the ‘device driven’ culture to give people rewards for their purchases. Students were given the opportunity to brainstorm ideas to contribute to the new designs and to see how the design team create and produce prototypes of packages to offer potential and existing clients.

The Scientists in the group especially enjoyed being shown around the new labs where specially trained personnel check the materials used in the packaging and the interaction that the metal has with the produce that is contained in the cans. Similarly, hygiene specialists allowed students to test various surfaces to demonstrate potential contamination points.

Perhaps the highlight for some was the ‘food testing’ centre where students were asked to test ‘Coca-Cola’ samples in order to demonstrate how the company ensures that the packaging keeps produce at its optimum quality. Students were also given the opportunity to package some sweets in cans and use the machinery to seal the lids on the cans. Another popular workstation!

The day ended with a demonstration from the Scientists using microscopes to assess any damage or inconsistencies in the metal that is used or the machinery making the packaging. The day was highly interesting and left the students enthused about the potential career paths that can be accessed through this local company. We would like to thank Crown Packaging for allowing us to enjoy such a valuable experience and to the students whose behaviour was exemplary.  Perhaps a measure of how much the students enjoyed their time was a request made by one of our students to complete work experience with the company in their own time, over the summer holidays.

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St Birinus has a vibrant House system which ensures that staff and students work together to create a positive school community where everyone is included.
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