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Philosophy For Children

Why teach P4C?

"P4C aims to help children become more thoughtful, more reflective, considerate and reasonable individuals" Matthew Lipman, a founder of P4C. 


Research (please refer to for details) shows that P4C supports the development of children's cognitive, speaking, listening and reasoning skills. This, in turn, results in improved English and Maths outcomes.


P4C also promotes personal, social and emotional growth of individuals, boosting confidence and self esteem. Children are given the time and space to learn how to manage their emotions appropriately, as well as allowing them to become more understanding towards one another.


The main principles of a P4C discussion are:

 It's ok to change your mind.

 It's ok to disagree as long as you are respectful.

 Everyone's ideas are valued.


The adult also focuses on developing P4C 4C's thinking:

Caring - understanding others and being respectful of different opinions.

Collaborative - finding solutions together.

Creative - making connections and thinking of new ideas.

Critical - understanding what we think and why.


P4C also specifically promotes the school values, where we encourage children to be... 


Curious -  Children are encouraged to ask questions about the world we live in.

Independent – Children forward their own ideas, and argue their own reasoning, coming to conclusions on their own individually or as a group, in contrast to simply being told.

Articulate – Children share their opinions with each other, build upon each other’s ideas. 



Our Goldenhill Primary Academy Curriculum is designed with the intent to maximise the potential of all of our pupils; intellectually, socially, morally, emotionally and culturally.  We take every opportunity to encourage a love for learning within all of our pupils, based around a resilience for learning and achieving greatness.  Most importantly we allow our children to learn in a safe and stimulating environment, where their views are valued.


Philosophy for children (P4C) is an opportunity for children to come together as a whole class on a weekly basis to provide a platform for discussion. Every child is given the opportunity to speak freely in a calm and inclusive environment. Children are encouraged to voice their opinions, and listen to what their peers have to say. 


The main aims of P4C at Goldenhill, are to develop children’s oracy and vocabulary, increasing confidence when speaking in front of a groups, and to develop thinking skills. P4C practice helps to support children to become more critical thinkers and encourages them to transfer their values, morals and thoughts into their written work.


It is also an amazing opportunity for children to tackle concepts and ideas which make them curious, or have an impact on their lives. We hope that P4C will help to develop higher levels of self-esteem and intellectual confidence for children across the Academy. Pupils learn the skills to be clear in their thinking so that they can explain their ideas, give good reasons for their views and hypothesize and speculate based on the views of others.  It teaches patience, respect to others and a better understanding of the world around us.




P4C is an enquiry based subject where pupils are encouraged to ask questions based on a range of stimuli which is carefully planned and presented to them. Upon experiencing the stimuli, which might be a story, video, set of images, or even a well known speech, the children are given time to think about what it makes them wonder. The children across the Academy are developing their ability to draw out concepts from these stimuli, and to delve deeper into these concepts through a series of targeted exercises. 


Many of the enquiries which take place will tackle social issues or issues affecting or impacting upon the lives of the children. In teaching, we have found that, the more relatable the enquiry, the more interested the children are in working towards an 'answer' with their peers. 


P4C is taught weekly through discrete sessions as well as through opportunities for purposeful cross curricular links. Many staff members exploit links between their History, Geography and PSHE learning intentions, and provide children with space for open, philosophical discussion, in the form of an enquiry. 


P4C begins in nursery, where children start to explore questioning and the appropriate language to use when having a conversation. A primary emphasis is on children learning when it is their turn to talk and actually listening to others. In KS1, children are able to discuss topics that are related to other curriculum areas and have time to rehearse vocabulary and critically discuss upcoming issues. It is in KS1 where children begin to build on the ideas of their peers, agreeing and disagreeing, and searching for more creative and innovative responses which often completely alter the course of direction for an enquiry. In KS2, P4C develops to encompass world and current affairs as well as social issues that may have direct influence upon the children lives. By this stage, children are able to debate issues using their developing skills and language.


Children learn through the 10 steps of philosophical enquiry:

  1. Getting Set – a group activity
  2. Presentation of a Stimulus
  3. Private Reflection
  4. Shared Reflection
  5. Formulation of questions
  6. Airing of questions
  7. Selection (voting)
  8. First Thoughts
  9. Building Ideas Together
  10. Final Thoughts




Each enquiry finishes with a review and evaluation of the skills in particular, and how the children displayed them within the session.  Here the children (alongside their adult) decide what has worked well and what could be improved next time. This is a fantastic opportunity for the children to self-assess themselves and their new learning and understanding.  Following on from this, and taking on a cyclical planning approach, teachers plan in a skills builder session- if there were particular skills that their class struggled with initially, or a concept stretching exercise. These exercises have worked well for a range of year groups, and provide a discrete opportunity for the class to delve specifically down into the ideas and opinions surrounding one concept in particular. For example, following on from an enquiry into the story of Noah's Ark, the children might want to develop their understanding of the concept of 'fairness', and what this means for them. 


At the end of each half term, class teachers reflect on the skills developed by the children in that period of time. Before beginning a new half term and planning new enquiries, class teachers choose a skill that their aim for the class to sustain, and one that they need to develop going forward. 


The impact of P4C is to help pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development equipping them to be thoughtful, caring and active citizens in an inclusive school and in a diverse wider society. It will also prepare them to enter secondary education with the ability to think and articulate their opinions independently. Subject and school leaders monitor the impact of our curriculum provision through completing regular monitoring, that includes listening to the voice of our children.

P4C Long Term Plan

P4C Skills Progression Map

Take a look at some of our enquiries...

Spot and Stripe - Age 4-7 - 16. Friends

Spot and Stripe love to argue about juicy questions. In each short video, they ask a question, explore a few reasons on either side and invite children to co...

Spot and Stripe - Age 4-7 - 19. Letters or Numbers?

Spot and Stripe love to argue about juicy questions. In each short video, they ask a question, explore a few reasons on either side and invite children to co...