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St Francis Church of England Aided Junior School

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Philosophy 4 Children (P4C)



St Francis CE (Aided) Junior School  are the latest UK school to receive a SAPERE Bronze School Award in recognition of their commitment to the Philosophy for Children (P4C) pedagogy. 


The Bronze award is for schools that have made a commitment to P4C as a whole school pedagogy and started on the SAPERE training pathway. 


About Philosophy for Children 


Philosophy for Children (P4C) is a powerful approach to learning and teaching that boosts children’s reasoning, social skills, and overall attainment.  Children are taught how to create their own philosophical questions. They then choose one question that is the focus of a philosophical enquiry, or dialogue. The teacher, as facilitator, supports the children in their thinking, reasoning and questioning, as well as the way the children speak and listen to each other in the dialogue.  


Research published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) in 2015 showed that the more disadvantaged pupils, participating in weekly P4C sessions over one year, saw their reading skills improve by four months, their maths results by three months and their writing ability by two months. Feedback from teachers throughout the trial suggests that P4C had a beneficial impact on wider outcomes such as confidence, patience and self-esteem too. Click here to see the full report


About the School Award Scheme 


SAPERE’s three awards - Bronze AwardSilver Award and Gold Award - celebrate a school's progress in establishing high quality P4C. The award framework provides guidance on progression towards achieving outstanding and sustainable P4C practice for the pupils, the teachers and the school. Each application undergoes rigorous scrutiny and only those who meet the criteria will receive an Award.  




Founded in 1992, SAPERE is the internationally recognised educational charity that promotes Philosophy for Children, known as P4C. SAPERE’s mission is to train teachers in Philosophy for Children which encourages children to think critically, creatively, collaboratively and caringly. We help children, particularly those facing disadvantage, to become lifelong learners. Approximately 5,000 teachers a year are trained in P4C by SAPERE. 


Culham Innovation Centre  

D5 Culham Science Park 



OX14 3DB  

Tel: 01865 408333 


The St. Francis Philosothon - Monday 14th October 2019


On Monday 14th October we hosted a "Philosothon"! All parents were invited to take part with their children. 



Mrs Ryder's Class (Y3) 

Mrs Ryder's class discussion was based around "Happiness". The children were asked - "If you could wear a helmet that made you happy all day, every day, would you wear it?". This is what the children had to say -


"I don't want to be imaginary happy!"

"I would wear it as you would feel love all the time."

"Why would I wear the helmet if I am already happy?"

"What if the helmet got stuck?"


Mrs Nixon's Class (Y3/4) 

Mrs Nixon's class were asked about wants and needs. The children looked at school, cars, food & water, family and music, and were asked to consider if they needed or wanted these things to live and be happy. This is what the children had to say - 


"We need family and friends to keep us safe."

"You need a house for protection."

"We don't need a television, we can play outside instead!"


Miss Cail's Class (Y4) 

Miss Cail's class also looked at happiness. Miss Cail's class also looked at friendship and whether we need friends to be happy. Finally, Miss Cail's class looked at laughter - and whether we can tell if someone is happy if they are laughing. The children suggested -


"Somethings can make you feel happy on the inside, but not on the outside."

"You can do a nervous laugh."

"Sometimes you can laugh, but you really aren't happy."


Miss Cooper's Class (Y5) ,Miss Lanham's Class (Y5) & Mrs Pickett's Class (Y6) 

Our Year 5 and Year 6 children discussed what they would do if they had an "invisibility ring"! The children suggested - 

"I would go on holiday!"

"I would help people"

"I would scare away bullies"


However, some of the children also suggested - 


"I would rob a bank!"

"I would steal money/food - but only to give it to homeless people."


This led to the children and parents discussing right vs. wrong  as well as thinking more deeply about what the world would be like if there were no laws. The children decided that without laws, humans might be tempted to do the wrong thing! This is because their would be no consequences or punishment. The children suggested -


"Rules and laws can be positive - so we know what to do."

"Humans can not behave without rules."


However some children suggested -


"Some rules stop you from being yourself!"

"We should be able to learn to resist the temptation of doing the wrong thing."

"Some rules won't work in different parts of the world". 


At the end of the day there was a celebration and awards ceremony. Our Philosothon allowed parents to get involved with our P4C curriculum and listen to the types of discussions our children are having in their weekly P4C sessions. We had a great time! Thank you to all the parents who were involved. 



What is Philosophy?

‘Philosophy’ means ‘love of wisdom’ in Greek.


If you are being philosophical, you are wondering about thoughtful questions, and trying to understand them better.


Critical thinking is a key requirement of global citizenship and community cohesion. Unless people can learn to think independently then there is always the possibility that they will be led, unthinkingly, into behaving in ways that may be damaging to themselves, others or the environment.


Philosophical enquiry develops these critical thinking skills.


What's the Big Idea? - Episode 3 - What Is a Friend?

Teachers could use this video as a starting point to discuss the big philosophical idea of trust. You could also use this with your child to discuss friendship and big ideas such as trust and betrayal.

What is P4C at St Francis'?

Since 2014 children have been taking part in weekly Ultimate Question sessions. These have been based around the Philosophy for Children approach. From 2014 - 2017 these sessions have taken place in house teams. Teams have met and completed ice-breaker tasks and then have split into LKS2 and UKS2 groupings for their P4C session.


In 2016/7 children asked if P4C sessions could happen in classes. Therefore, sessions became class based from September 2017.  This academic year we were chosen to be part of the Education Endowment Fund Research into how P4C can raise attainment in children. With this came SAPERE/Thinkwell training for all staff to enable them to deliver P4C more effectively across the school. Horndale Infants joined us in this training so that P4C can be part of our children's learning experiences across the Primary phase. 


Aims of P4C at St Francis' 

We aim to develop higher order thinking skills, improve communication skills and help children learn to co-operate with others.


We believe children should think for themselves, participate in dialogue, support each other in building ideas and understand and value their own opinions and opinions different to their own. Children need to develop a good understanding that their views and ideas can change or indeed become more solid in their basis through being challenged by others.  


The Format of P4C at St Francis'

Children learn through the 10 steps of philosophical enquiry:

1.  Getting Set - a group activity

2. Presentation of a Stimulus

3. Thinking Time 

4. Conversation

5. Formulation of questions

6. Airing of questions

7. Selection (voting)

8. First Thoughts

9. Building Ideas Together

10. Final Thoughts


A typical philosophy lesson starts with a game and then the children being given a stimulus, such as a picture book, a video or a piece of music or art. They then come up with a list of philosophical questions inspired by the stimulus – anything from, ‘Are friends more important than family?’ to, ‘Is it ever okay to steal?’ – and vote on which one to talk about. The class then has an ‘enquiry’ – an open dialogue – around that question.


How you can help your child at home 

Here are some good resources to kick-start philosophical conversations with your child.

  • The Philosophy Foundation has a list of recommended books, online resources, poems and films. The Philosophy Shop by Peter Worley (£14.99) is a book of puzzles, ideas and exercises to get children (and adults) thinking philosophically.

  • Dialogue Works : ( Useful P4C stimulus suggestions.

  • "Philosophy: An Online Resource Guide ( also has a lot of great information.

  • Picture books: ‘Well-known books like Not Now, Bernard by David McKee, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and Would you Rather? by John Burningham are great starting points for philosophical discussions,’ says Lizzy.

  • Teaching Thinking, the website of children’s philosophy expert Robert Fisher, includes a range of resources, including discussion plans and stories to talk about.

  • SAPERE's website has a comprehensive list of recommended books for children and adults.

  • What’s the Big Idea? is a CBeebies series introducing critical thinking to young children. You’ll find episodes and activities on their website. 

  • The world around you! Opportunities to think philosophically are everywhere. ‘Even watching Newsround can prompt good discussions,’ says Lizzy. ‘What’s important is that they’re directed by your child: he’ll genuinely enjoy the challenge of thinking for himself.’


Children are taught to ask a range of questions from all areas of the Question Quadrant.


Over time they will come to realise that the best questions for discussion are the Starry Questions that are open and move beyond the stimulus. However, they are good to discuss after the other pressing questions have had time to be aired, explored and discussed. 

Y5/6 Philosophy Club

Plato's Allegory of the Cave - Alex Gendler

View full lesson: Twenty four hundred years ago, Plato, one of history's most famous thinkers, said life is like being chained up in a cave forced to watch shadows flitting across a stone wall. Beyond sounding quite morbid, what exactly did he mean?


The Medium Term Plan 2017 (below) is a starting point for teachers. Everyday life, however can generate much more relevant resources to begin a P4C session. For example we have used President Trump's suggestion to arm teachers after school shooting, The World Cup and Humanitarian disasters. 

We assess children based on the 4C's of Thinking

Creative Thinkers...

Make connections, think of new ideas, explore possibilities, compare things and suggest alternatives.


Critical Thinkers...

Ask ‘big idea’ questions, test their ideas, give good reasons, look for evidence and suggest conclusions.


Caring Thinkers...

Think about what’s said,  listen to others carefully, imagine how others feel, don’t interrupt and wait their turn. 


Collaborative Thinkers...

Speak to each other, build on ideas, are friendly & helpful, share their experiences and work together.

Children complete self-assessments of these skills and staff teacher assess the children on our school tracking system. Their final teacher assessment for the year is fed back to parents on the end of year report, under speaking and listening.

Staff Qualifications

The P4C Lead Teachers who are qualified to Level 2a are:

Mrs Lakey

Mrs Wright


The following staff have completed P4C Level 1a:

Mrs Wilkinson

Mrs Lakey

Mrs Ball

Mrs Ryder

Miss Cooper

Miss Lanham

Mr Slack

Mrs Roche

Miss Fahey

Miss Pounder

Mrs Wright

Mr Baister

Year 6 used their research and presentation skills to learn about philosophers

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