St Robert’s Catholic Primary school, Aberkenfig, are the latest school in the UK and the FIRST in Wales to receive the SAPERE Silver School Award, in recognition of their commitment to the Philosophy for Children (P4C) approach.
The P4C approach has a prime place within the ethos and values of the school and is identified within curriculum areas, particularly in English and RE. The school feels that P4C is a powerful approach that boosts children’s reasoning and higher order thinking skills, developing a high level of dialogue with older children using the language of reason e.g. counter-argument, making distinctions, giving examples. Other benefits found by the school are increased self esteem, increased motivation and improvement in pupils’ communication skills. It also provokes from the children more thoughtful and reflective responses to other learning situations and current issues.
The school carries out termly P4C days, focussing on concepts such as friendship, heroes and villains, as well as using the approach within subjects such as RE and the arts. These days involve all children engaging in an enquiry related to the theme, explored at an age appropriate level. Examples of activities carried out include:
- Foundation Phase children deciding whether the monster is allowed to come to school and organising Disney characters on a Hero to Zero scale, with children focusing on giving reasons and agreeing and disagreeing with each other;
- Junior children using videos and songs as a stimulus to devise their own philosophical questions e.g. can you be friends with everyone? and do you have to be able to speak the same language to be friends with someone?
The day ends with classes coming together and sharing what they have discovered and questioned. These days have been shared with advisors and governors, who all comment positively on the use of the approach.
Pupils in the school really enjoy P4C sessions. Keira commented ‘it’s great to talk and explore about different concepts such animal rights and punishment’. Alfie added ‘P4C is a way to collaborate and a way to hear other people’s opinions. It helps us to understand that people have a different opinion to us but this is okay!’ Jack and Charlotte like P4C because they can express their ideas to their friends and learn more about their friends’ opinions.
Mrs Carmen Beveridge, Headteacher and Mrs Barbara Murphy, Deputy Headteacher and P4C Leader, are both proud of the school’s achievement and that this award has acknowledge the hard work of the staff and pupils in embedding this approach throughout the whole school.
About Philosophy for Children
P4C is a powerful approach that boosts children’s reasoning, social skills, and overall academic performance. Almost 3,000 teachers a year now are now trained in the P4C pedagogy, reaching around 50,000 new pupils each year. Experience in the UK, backed up by academic research both here and in other countries, has shown that there are numerous benefits from the P4C approach including: increased self-esteem; increased motivation to enquire and learn; substantial gains in oral communication skills, literacy and numeracy; enhanced respect for the views of others and increased confidence in one’s own judgements; and more thoughtful and reflective responses to other learning situations.
About the School Award Scheme
SAPERE introduced the School Award Scheme in January 2012 to recognise and showcase schools that use P4C regularly. Schools are invited to apply for an Award and must submit evidence to show that the school is meeting the criteria for the Award. This includes:
- Evidence that children demonstrate emerging philosophical language and skills (written examples of the language and skills that children have started to use, sound file of children speaking)
- Evidence that children are asking open questions, moving towards philosophical questions ie emphasising big idea
- Evidence of emerging quality P4C practice
- Evidence that P4C practice is facilitated by a team of committed practitioners who progress P4C practice within their own classrooms
- Evidence that the P4C team reviews P4C sessions and plans for progression
SAPERE is a registered charity and is responsible for promoting Philosophy for Children within the UK. We provide training and support to schools who introduce Philosophy for Children into their curriculum.
In the early 1970s Professor Matthew Lipman of Columbia University, New York observed that his degree level philosophy students typically showed a lot less intellectual curiosity than his 6 year old child. As he investigated why this was, he developed a new teaching method called Philosophy for Children (P4C) which was designed to promote and sustain children’s thinking and learning skills. P4C proved especially effective in helping children in tough neighbourhoods in New Jersey. The BBC picked up on this and broadcast a programme in the UK in 1990 called Socrates for Six Year Olds. The programme had a profound impact on educators and parents alike and in 1992 a group of teachers and education experts came together to introduce P4C to the UK through the formation of a charity called SAPERE. We are the UK’s leading provider of P4C training. See www.sapere.org.uk