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Carpenters Primary School

Philosophy for Children

What is Philosophy for Children?

Philosophy for Children (P4C) is an enquiry based approach to open up children’s learning through the exploration of ideas. It gives children the possibility of seeing that their ideas have value, and that others have different ideas that have value too.

At Carpenters, children across the school take part in a weekly ‘P4C’ session. In the EYFS, sessions last up to half an hour and in KS1 and KS2 sessions typically last from 45 minutes to an hour.

What are the benefits for children?

  • They realise that they don’t always have to be right;
  • They develop the confidence to ask questions and learn through discussion;
  • All learners (including teachers) have opportunities to genuinely enquire;
  • It gives everyone an equal chance to speak and be heard without fear of getting an answer wrong;
  • It develops children’s questioning and enquiry skills;
  • Gives children a chance to flourish and grow in confidence;
  • Gives all children value.

What does a session entail?

While sessions are planned by the class teacher and follow a general structure, the direction the session takes is determined by the children’s views and ideas.

Each session:

  • Starts with a stimulus (chosen by the class teacher). This may be an image, book, video clip or quote.
  • Children are then encouraged to draw on their imagination to ask a question based on the stimulus. E.g. “I wonder why…?”
  • Children make a collective decision on the question they are most interested in discussing.
  • The discussion starts but is then not contained. It follows its own path guided by the children’s thoughts and ideas, agreeing and disagreeing, but always giving a reason for their point of view.
  • The class teacher’s role is to clarify and contain the discussion as appropriate.
  • The session ends with a ‘final thought’ that all children have the opportunity to share.

Outcomes for children

  • To learn to think before they speak and give reasons for what they say;
  • To value their views and the views of others;
  • To learn not to taking things personally if people do not agree with them;
  • To learn respect and negotiation;
  • To learn not to be fearful;
  • To improve their ability to question;
  • To grow in confidence to share their thoughts and to understand that we are all valued.

Other outcomes – beyond Philosophy for Children

  • Across the school there has been a positive impact on other areas of the curriculum. E.g. P4C develops the children’s ability to question across the curriculum and use higher order thinking skills;
  • P4C provides a bank of ideas for creative writing;
  • It creates an ‘enquiry based’ classroom in all areas of the curriculum;
  • It benefits the children personal skills and understanding of one another, leading to improved behaviour in the playground.
  • P4C develops the skills necessary for positions of responsibility such as the school council, resilience champions and sports leaders;
  • It enhances the children’s listening and reasoning skills;
  • P4C leads to improvements in the children’s independence and resilience. 


Every classroom has a P4C display which changes weekly to display the ‘question’ of the week. In addition to this, the children add their thoughts and ideas after each P4C session to the display.  These may include how we feel, what we have learnt, what we can do next and how this has helped me.