At West Meadows we take enormous pride in being a SAPERE Bronze Award school. Philosophy for Children is a central aspect of our curriculum and one which allows children to access the rest of the curriculum at a high level.
The intent behind Philosophy for Children at West Meadows is to build and sustain a real ‘culture of enquiry’, where children are free to think and discuss important concepts including equality and inclusivity.
We want to allow children to cultivate wisdom and equip them with the requisite vocabulary and language skills needed to further their knowledge in the modern world. Through the robust facilitation of philosophical enquiries, teaching staff ensure that pupils develop as global citizens who are confident and respectful.
We aim to encourage our children to become creative, collaborative, caring and critical thinkers in a safe, encouraging and stimulating learning environment.
P4C promotes an enquiry-based curriculum whereby pupils are encouraged to think about big concepts and ask questions which further their thinking and understanding. Our weekly enquiries encourage children to discuss answers through discussion of social values. As a result, our children develop the ability to recognise differences and explore these constructively. P4C is taught and facilitated on a weekly basis through stand-alone sessions; however, we adhere strongly to the concepts of P4C throughout our whole curriculum and regularly exploit opportunities for purposeful cross-curricular links. P4C plays a vital part in our mission to promote the development of vocabulary by giving children engaging topics to discuss.
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 actively listen 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 issues. In KS2, P4C develops to encompass world and current affairs as well as social issues that may have a direct influence upon the children’s lives. By this stage, children are able to debate issues using their developing critical skills and language.
Children learn through the 10 steps of philosophical enquiry:
- Getting Set – a group activity
- Presentation of a Stimulus
- Private Reflection
- Shared Reflection
- Formulation of questions
- Airing of questions
- Selection (voting)
- First Thoughts
- Building Ideas Together
- Final Thoughts
A typical philosophy lesson starts with a game or the reinforcement of the ‘ground rules’ of philosophical enquiry. Children are then given a stimulus, such as a picture book, a video, a piece of music or art. They will reflect upon this stimulus privately and vocally before creating a list of philosophical questions inspired by the stimulus. Examples include such conceptual questions as ‘are friends more important than family?’ and ‘is it ever okay to steal?’. Children then vote on which question to talk about. The class then takes part in an ‘enquiry’ – an open dialogue – tackling the key concepts of the chosen question. This is a child-led activity facilitated by teaching staff, whose aim is to guide discussion and promote deeper thinking.
Each lesson finishes with a debrief of the enquiry. Here the children decide what has worked well and what could be improved. This is an incredibly important part of the process as it allows children to self-assess themselves and their new learning and understanding. Each lesson builds on the previous and children’s skills are improved upon throughout each topic.
P4C contributes significantly to our pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
- become thoughtful, caring and active citizens in an inclusive school and in a diverse wider society.
- be able to call upon the critical and analytical skills required to access the rest of our curriculum at a high level.
- be well prepared to enter secondary education with the ability to think and articulate opinions independently.
- discuss difficult concepts with their peers, demonstrating respect and consideration for others.
Subject and school leaders monitor the impact of our curriculum provision through completing regular monitoring.