Catholic School scoops top education award

St Robert’s Catholic Primary School in Aberkenfig, Bridgend has scooped a Gold Award from national education charity SAPERE P4C to mark its outstanding commitment to and progress in Philosophy for Children (P4C). The school is the first school in Wales to achieve this accolade.

P4C is an approach to teaching and learning which, research has shown, enhances children’s thinking and communication skills and boosts their self-esteem.

The SAPERE P4C Gold Award is the charity’s highest award and is only given to those schools which have fully embedded P4C in their ethos, strategy, teaching and learning and which have met the strict criteria for the award. The award celebrates the hard work of students and staff at St Robert’s Catholic Primary School to develop and sustain critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinking across their school.

Children stimulated

In P4C sessions, teachers use a stimulus, such as a picture book, video clip, or photograph, to help children to explore big philosophical concepts such as fairness, bravery, friendship, conflict and respect. Children are supported to create philosophical questions about the concepts, questions such as:

• Is it ever OK to lie?
• Do we have to respect everyone?
• Can good people do bad things?

The children then choose the question they would most like to explore. Teachers encourage students to think about the ideas and concepts behind the questions, and to discuss and challenge ideas as a group – a community of enquiry. As the questions grow more philosophical and imaginative, children learn to recognise and explore different perspectives.

Mrs Carmen Beveridge, Headteacher of the school commented; ‘this is a fantastic achievement for our school and demonstrates the commitment of the staff and pupils to P4C. This approach is central to our delivery of “Curriculum for Wales” and links beautifully to the Four Purposes and our Catholic Pupil Profile’. P4C is led by the school’s Deputy Head teacher, Mrs Barbara Murphy. She said that P4C has been at the heart of the school’s curriculum for a number of year and has gone from strength to strengthen during this time; ‘as part of our curriculum vision we want children

Proud pupils of St Roberts Catholic Primary School celebrate their award to be happy, confident learners who have the skills necessary for the 21st Century. We feel that P4C provide these skills and enable pupils to develop their own ideas, beliefs and values. ‘

It makes us more open-minded

Sophie Jones, a P4C Champion at the school commented that ‘everyone is able to share their ideas on a concept such as happiness and everyone enjoys the sessions.’ Daniel Jones, a year 6 child in the school added, ‘I think P4C is good because it has helped us to be more open minded and see both sides of argument.

It is very different to a confrontational argument as we listen to each other and are willing to change our minds on issues. We are empathetic to each other.’ Isaac Bowling, also in year 6 and was part of the accreditation process said that ‘P4C makes me a better learner because I am not afraid to ask questions

and I understand that I can’t know everything. We become more confident because we take part in the enquires and know our opinions are valued and listened too.’

Amelia Foster, CEO of SAPERE P4C, said: “We are so thrilled to have our first Gold Award school in Wales. The children of St Robert’s RC Primary School really impressed us with their ability to think critically, creatively, collaboratively and caringly; they show great maturity and confidence in their ability to listen to, build on and respectfully challenge each other’s ideas – skills which sometimes seem to be in short supply in the wider world. We congratulate the children and their teachers, who have worked incredibly hard to embed philosophical thinking across the school.”

SAPERE’s three award levels – Bronze, Silver and Gold – celebrate a school’s progress in establishing high-quality, sustainable P4C across the school. Each application undergoes rigorous scrutiny and only those which meet the criteria will receive an Award.