At Alverstoke Junior School, Philosophy for Children (P4C) encourages our children to have their voice heard; it teaches them to be diplomatic, challenge views courteously and accept diversity in the wider world. It enhances their thinking and learning skills and boosts self-esteem. Through P4C, our children are ‘more thoughtful, more reflective, considerate and reasonable individuals: this is the core intention of the delivery of P4C enquiries’ (Prof. Matthew Lipman, Founder of P4C).
P4C is the driving force in our curriculum – our units are designed to be led by a philosophical question. Through this, children explore concepts in great detail, making connections between their lives and the wider world, thus creating the ‘whole child’. Our children leave Alverstoke Junior School as critical yet caring thinkers, equipped with the skills required to philosophise in all areas of the curriculum and approach their learning with an open mind.
P4C teaches our children important life skills linked to diversity and cultural capital, providing our children with qualities and attributes needed to thrive as members of society in a local, national and world-wide context. It exposes our children to contexts beyond their immediate vicinity, challenging their views and encourages them to address ‘real life’ situations which they find difficult to comprehend: we use P4C to develop the whole child.
As children’s confidence in developing philosophical questions grows, they learn to listen to each other carefully, explore differing opinions respectfully and value the ideas of others. They use their philosophical thinking in other areas of the curriculum, such as problem solving in maths and questioning the validity of sources in history, enriching their education through deeper levels of thinking.
Through P4C, children at Alverstoke Junior School learn how to positively contribute to the world around them, providing them with tools and skills which are transferrable to other areas of the curriculum and contributes towards their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
P4C is delivered within every unit of work throughout the year; units are led by a philosophical question which guides discussions across other curriculum subjects. Our progression of skills in P4C help children to develop deeper philosophical thinking across their 4 years at Alverstoke Junior School, whilst also enable our pupils to develop their understanding of cultural diversity, Fundamental British Values, spirituality moments and our Christian Values.
Some enquiries are skills based – teachers plan activities to develop thinking skills linked to the 4Cs of P4C (caring, critical, collaborative, creative) and these are progressively more challenging year on year. Others are led by stimuli to explore specific concepts, exposing children to a range of scenarios and encouraging them to link challenging concepts to real-life. An enquiry starts with a thinking tool to ensure that the children are ready to learn and delve into philosophical thinking. Teachers will then share a stimulus with children; this can be a: book, photo, song, video, podcast etc. This is the spring board for discussions in the enquiry. Following this, children generate philosophical questions. In Year 3, these will be closely linked to the stimulus. From Year 4 onwards, children are encouraged to develop questions which are conceptually rich and philosophically challenging. By Year 6, our children can use tools such as a question quadrant to sort types of questions, explaining which are more philosophical and would lend themselves to create a deeper discussion.
In Years 3, 4 and the start of Year 5, P4C enquiries are split into two halves: the first half will stop once a philosophical question has been chosen and the second half will be the enquiry linked to their chosen question. In the latter part of Year 5 and Year 6, children have developed a greater philosophical awareness and depth of understanding that they are able to withstand a full enquiry in one sitting. This allows our children to deepen their thoughts and continue to make connections between the stimulus, the question and the wider-world.
Teachers record children’s thinking in reflective journals and use this assessment as a starting point for further enquiries. Children also use reflective journals to record their thinking in the enquiry, reflecting on which of the 4Cs they have shown a particular strength in and which they need to develop next time. Although the 4Cs remain the same for each year group, they have been progressively broken down into strands which are designed to deepen children’s thinking each year.
All staff have access to the P4C whole school overview, progression of skills map and suggested resources (such as the English and Guided Reading text drivers overviews) to further develop children’s understanding of the key concepts which drive our curriculum. You can find a copy of the whole school overview for P4C at the bottom of this page.
Our P4C curriculum explores children’s understanding of their immediate world and the wider-world, weaving concepts and philosophical thinking to develop them as reflective and diplomatic individuals. We aim for children to leave Alverstoke Junior School with a sound understanding of how the 4Cs of P4C apply to all aspects of life and encourage our children to use philosophical thinking to become better citizens.
The P4C leader monitors the impact of P4C in enquiries and across other areas of the curriculum as a measure of how children are able to apply philosophical thinking and skills. We are an accredited Gold School for P4C and are reviewed every 3 years to ensure that we are still upholding of the P4C virtues that a Gold School must adhere to; our last review in July 2019 recognised how our P4C approach to teaching is at the heart of our school’s ethos and that children were ‘impressive with their engagement and articulation of philosophical thinking’ (Gold Award report – June 2023). The report for this is available for viewing at the bottom of the page.
Through learning walks, monitoring of children’s behaviour, reflective journals and children’s articulacy when faced with a situation they are disagreeing in, we are able to monitor the impact that P4C has on our children are individuals; they leave us as reflective and well-rounded pupils ready to face challenge from all aspects of life.