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Intent, Implementation & Impact in Philosophy

Philosophy for Children (p4c) is a wonderful way of bringing teachers and children together to discuss things that matter. Children love to question, and philosophy is a natural extension of this. Children really enjoy talking about what is important and meaningful to them, and philosophy is an opportunity for children to talk freely, without being directed by the teacher or the curriculum.


Philosophy has many benefits for children, it encourages reasoning and deep thinking, where children have to make their own judgements.  It helps spiritual and moral development, and speaking and listening skills.  The Philosophy for Children teaching approach also had a positive influence on pupils’ confidence to speak, listening skills and self-esteem.


Philosophy also helps children’s relationships. It can have a positive effect on behaviour, because children learn that you can still like someone even if you have different opinions.  Philosophy helps children get to know each other in a different way, and often, the conversations carry on in the playground afterwards.



A typical philosophy lesson starts with 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.

An alternative model involves the facilitator setting up an imaginary scenario.  The stimulus encourages the children to think critically, creatively, collaboratively and caringly. 

Although the teacher models philosophical language and reasoning skills, the children direct the course of the discussion. They are encouraged to develop a variety of questioning strategies to help them think philosophically.   


Philosophy is taught in every class throughout the school and we aim for one lesson per week but this can increase where cross-curricular links make it possible. There is a good sense of children having time to think and their opinions respected, and that children trust the teachers and feel it is safe to speak.