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Philosophy for Children (P4C)

Subject Intent

At Primrose Hill Church of England Academy, every child has the right to their own opinion. Through our Philosophy for Children (P4C) teaching, we promote our pupils’ awareness that each opinion is valued and should be respected, even if it differs from others.

Through our curriculum we encourage and develop pupils’ thinking skills and oracy, allowing them to think critically and engage with local and global issues.


During P4C, we concentrate on how children focus on their thinking skills and communal dialogue whilst aiming to build ‘communities of enquiry’ where participants develop the 4C’s: creative, critical, caring and collaborative skills.

  • Creative = connecting (relating) and suggesting (speculating) (e.g. providing comparisons, examples, criteria, alternative explanations or conceptions)
  • Critical = questioning (interrogating) and reasoning (evaluating) (e.g. seeking meaning, evidence, reasons, distinctions, and good judgements)
  • Caring = listening (concentrating) and valuing (appreciating) (e.g. showing interest in, and sensitivity to, others’ experiences and values
  • Collaborative = responding (communicating) and supporting (conciliating) (e.g. building on each other’s ideas, shaping common understandings and purposes)

Key Skills for P4C

Through P4C the children develop skills in:

  1. Asking questions
  2. Giving reasons
  3. Making distinctions/connections

1. Asking Questions

Teachers and parents ask children questions all the time, however a philosophical question considers CONCEPTS that are:

  • Common (we all use concepts on a daily basis)
  • Central (at the heart of how human beings think of themselves, others and things)
  • Contestable (meaning is fuzzy at the edges and depend upon situation and context)
  • Connected to experience (they need to be connected to our experiences to be meaningful)

For example, if discussing the story of Cinderella we might ask things like

– Why are the stepsisters mean?

– How would it feel to wear a glass slipper?

– What did the mice turn into?

– What time did the clock strike?

To make it a philosophical question we need to think about the concepts we see in the story – things like

ugly/beauty – fair/unfair – hardworking/lazy – kind/mean

rich/poor – reality/fiction – power/powerless – real/magic

Then we can come up with questions like:

– Is ugliness to do with how you appear or how you behave?

– Can you be good all the time?

– Are good people, people who are good all the time?

– Can you do a bad thing and still be a good person?

2. Giving Reasons

We encourage the children to explain why they think something, or why they have made this choice.

We use ideas like:

– Would you rather? (out of these 3 things which would you rather do)

– Good idea? Bad Idea?

– Put things in order from the most important to the least important.

– Agree or disagree lines.

3. Making distinctions/connections

The children are given opportunities to explain the similarities and differences between objects and ideas.

For example through activities like ‘Odd One Out’.

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