P4C Philosophy For Children

At St John’s C of E, we use the Philosophy for Children (P4C) approach to help our pupils to develop into effective, critical and creative thinkers and to take responsibility for their own learning in a caring and collaborative environment.

Our aim is to help our pupils to develop the basic skills and dispositions that will enable them to contribute as responsible and resilient citizens of the future. Throughout school, we create caring classroom situations where children learn to listen to and respect each other. We make links between matters of personal concern such as love, growing up, friendship, bullying and fairness and more general philosophical issues such as change, personal identity, free will, space, time and truth. Where possible, links are made to other curriculum areas so that children can deepen their understanding of what can sometimes be quite complex subject matter.

Children and their teacher share a stimulus for discussion in the form of images, stories, film clips or a physical resource. The children take thinking time to devise their own questions and then discuss them. The questions get deeper and more thoughtful. The pupils’ discussions become more disciplined and focused yet, at the same time, more imaginative. They care more about what others say but don’t accept easy answers and begin to challenge one another’s thinking. They develop the ability to recognise differences and explore them constructively –developing a philosophical community of enquiry.

What does a session entail?

  • A structured session starts with a stimulus.
  • Children are encouraged to draw on their imagination to ask a question based on wonderment (I wonder why…?).
  • Children make a collective decision on the question they are most interested in.
  • The discussion starts but is then not contained. It follows its own path guided by the children’s thoughts and ideas, agreeing and disagreeing, but always giving a reason for their point of view.

Outcomes for children

  • To learn to think before they speak and give reasons for what they say.
  • To value their views and the views of others.
  • Not taking things personally.
  • To learn respect and negotiation.
  • To learn not to be fearful.

Other outcomes – beyond Philosophy for Children

  • Impact on other areas of the curriculum.
  • Lots of ideas for creative writing.
  • Creates an enquiring classroom in all areas of the curriculum.
  • Affects personal skills, and behaviour in the playground.
  • Develops skills necessary for positions of responsibility (school council, worship leaders etc).
  • Listening and reasoning skills.

Developing children’s abilities to ask their own thoughtful questions, P4C helps to enhance the quality of learning and raise standards of attainment and achievement. Our whole school approach is recognised nationally through SAPERE, the educational charity responsible for the development of P4C in the UK. All staff are undergoing training in P4C.