Inspire Lecture Series

The Inspire Lecture Series at Cheltenham Bournside School invites speakers from all corners of industry and higher education to deliver inspirational lectures to students at the school.

Previous guests have included Dr Samir Guglani, NHS Oncologist, Author and Director of Medicine Unboxed, Curstain Keltie, Garden Designer and and Horticultural Consultant, and Nathan Lake, professional squash player.

"The Inspire Lecture series builds upon our already successful external speaker programme, bringing it together under one umbrella to help our students identify the speakers they'd most like to see. Each speaker brings their own expertise and experience into the school, sparking curiosity and inspiring ambition among our students."

- Mrs Hemsley, Assistant Headteacher

Many of our Inspire Lectures are delivered in partnership with experts from University of Gloucestershire. Guest lecturers have joined us to cover specialisms including Journalism, Fashion, Film Production and Law, with more planned over the coming terms.

"We're delighted to be working closely with the team at Bournside to deliver a varied and vibrant series of subject lectures. Academic colleagues from a range of areas have volunteered their time to share their passion for their subject specialism and they are excited to kick start some interesting conversations with students. We pride ourselves on working with local young people to explore their futures. Who knows, maybe this could be the start of a new interest?" 

- Alice Vellender, Student Recruitment and Outreach Manager

If you would be interested in delivering a future Inspire Lecture in the series, please contact Mrs Hemsley at

professor Michael Wooldridge, 
University of Oxford

Lecture: Wednesday 11th October, 2-3pm 

Towards Machine Understanding

Recent developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) are startling - at least at first sight. We now have AI systems that appear to be able to sustain meaningful conversations, capable of answering complex questions about an impressively broad range of topics. Machines that can really pass the Turing's famous test for machine intelligence now seem plausible within the near future. So to what extent are these impressive new tools really intelligent? To what extent can we say they understand in the same way that we do? And where is this technology heading?

Michael Wooldridge is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Oxford, and a programme director for AI at the Alan Turing Institute. He has been an AI researcher for more than 30 years, and has published more than 400 scientific articles on the subject, including nine books. He is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Association for the Advancement of AI (AAAI), and the European Association for AI (EurAI). From 2014-16, he was President of the European Association for AI, and from 2015-17 he was President of the International Joint Conference on AI (IJCAI). He was a recipient of the Lovelace medal from the British Computer Society in 2020 – the premier computing award in the UK – and received the Outstanding Educator Award from the Association for Advancement of AI (AAAI) in 2021. He has published two popular science introductions to AI: The Ladybird Expert Guide to AI (2018), and The Road to Conscious Machines (Pelican, 2020).

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