Philosophy for children is at the core of what makes Oaklands Junior School an accredited ‘Thinking School’ and lays the foundation to the lessons taught and school life. As a school we aim to develop thinking and reasoning skills to enhance self-awareness and esteem.
Through enquiry and exploration of ideas, children learn that what they think has value. They also learn how to recognise the value of other people’s ideas that may be different to theirs. They don’t always have to be right and owning that feeling helps them gain confidence and resilience so that they may ask questions and learn through discussion.
All learners have the opportunity through philosophy for children to genuinely enquire and speak without fear of getting it wrong. They are given the language for discussion that helps them intelligently respond to what they hear and build on those ideas (eg. add or challenge).
By the end of year 6 the children will be confident in going through the four phases of enquiry –Think, Commit, Justify and Reflect and will be taught to do so through the four Cs (Collaboration, Caring, Creative and Critical thinking) and other P4C tools.
During the pandemic the children will have had a variety of experiences. Some may have had more adult contact through mealtimes and being home schooled by their parents/ guardians, which in turn could mean that they have had more discussions that normal. They may have been required to be more independent and learnt a lot about themselves as a learner. They may also have had found the whole experience difficult and their world may have been quite small for the period they were not in school. These experiences are all valid and can be used to enhance class discussions. Philosophy for children is a great way for the children to relearn that they must consider others and that their opinions can be challenged. Something that may not have happened a lot when they were out of school or they may not have felt that they could have voiced their opinions. The dynamics of family life during this difficult time and how they all coped will be very varied and for some they may be much more receptive to what others have to say because they have had to learn this and consider others during lockdown.
Philosophy for children (P4C) underpins how we teach at Oaklands Junior school.
It impacts all areas of the curriculum through good questioning, listening, and reasoning skills being taught and developed. Using enquiry-based learning influences how we plan our lessons and more generally the ethos of the school.
P4C is taught in a variety of ways:
- These are currently taught once per half term by the class teacher or teaching assistant.
- In Lower KS2 they are modelled (questions given) and in upper KS2 the children generate a question.
- They all start with a stimulus eg. a story, video, picture
- Concept words are taught and used eg. happy, jealousy, greed, love
- Children are steered through a discussion that is facilitated by the leading adult who will respond to how the children are answering by using facilitator moves and concept stretchers to keep their thinking developing.
- All year groups develop their class rules through P4C using the enquiry format. Focusing on two or four of the 4Cs (Collaborative, caring, creative and critical thinking).
- Children are taught to use the phrases ‘to build upon…’ and ‘I would like to challenge…’ and are encouraged to name who they are responding to as well as repeat part of what was said.
- The language of think, commit, justify and reflect is used throughout an enquiry and helps to structure the lesson.
- Enquiries can be whole class or mini enquiries within groups.
- Enquiries can be done as part of a different subject or can be done as a discrete P4C lesson.
Discrete P4C tools
- In year 3 the children are taught what concepts are using Fairy Tales. In year 4 they are reinforced through the class reads.
- All year groups will use English, R.E., History and other subjects where philosophical questions can be asked.
- Situations that arise throughout the year should also be used eg. Sport, news events etc.
Think, Commit, Justify and Reflect
- Used to organise thinking in all class discussions and lessons.
- Use as a cyclical model within class sessions.
4Cs – Collaborative, caring, creative and critical
- These are ways of thinking. All four Cs are taught but in Lower KS2 there is a particular focus on collaborative thinking and caring thinking and in Upper KS2 creative and critical are the
- Children are taught about thick and thin questions and encouraged to develop their own as they become confident.
- Lesson objectives and planning are based around questions
- Class teachers and teaching assistance use questioning to enhance the children’s thinking.
Concept SPECS (Synonyms, phrases, examples and concepts)
- Used for vocabulary work and to help children all understand a concept from the same starting point.
- Maps are used throughout the school in all lessons to help the children organise their thinking.
There are 6 main branches of philosophy – epistemology (the theory of knowledge), metaphysics (Study of reality, existence, the physical world), logic (reasoning), ethics (morality), aesthetics (beauty, art, good taste) and politics (government, law, liberty, justice).
As a school we cover ethics, aesthetics and political philosophy well and now need to look for more opportunities for the other three branches.
One teacher is trained from level 1 – 2B Sapere P4C.
One teacher is trained at level 1.
50% of the Teachers/ Teaching assistances were trained in 2013 by Jason Buckley.
Three teachers have had no formal training.
All have had regular staff meetings run by Paula Jones.
Current teaching confidence in P4C is mixed. Most are confident in using the differing tools within lessons and are able to run enquiries. Facilitator moves and how to move on enquiries is an ongoing development that practice and reviewing as a school will aid.
Paula Jones will be trained up to Sapere level 3 and will then be able to train all staff up to level 1 to ensure they all have the same base knowledge and starting point.
Regular staff meetings and support will be given to help boost confidence.
At the end of Year 6 the children will have a level of competency in the following areas that unpin P4C and our school ethos:
Think – (collaborative, caring, creative and critical)
- The children will be able to create their own enquiries to help them answer difficult questions.
- They are able to work collaboratively with a common goal and try to understand each other’s thinking through listening carefully and asking questions that will help them understand.
- The children will care about the outcome and show an interest in the experiences and beliefs of others
- The can investigate other people’s ways of thinking and imagine that they are them (empathy).
- The children are able to propose alternative ideas to their peers.
- They can interpret stimulus and scenarios independently and begin to have the confidence to share them without the need for peer validation.
- They are able to articulate their thoughts to the class clearly.
- Are able to be clear about differences in opinions and give counter examples.
- They are able to question reasons/ criteria for conclusions and judgements.
- They have clear ideas about what they think and why they do.
- They can compare other people’s ideas/opinions.
- They can listen to counter arguments and be able to state why they do or don’t agree.
- The children will start to understand why others have different opinions and ideas (through experiences/ circumstances).
- The children will show that they are willing to change their thinking and behaviour and be open to this.
- They can make decisions and recommendations based on what they have heard/ learnt through an enquiry.
Philosophy for children will be seen across our school and in every lesson as a way to structure and organise thinking. Its true impact will be measured within all subjects when the children choose to use the techniques taught in P4C and they show that they are able to think, commit, justify and reflect in a way that progresses their learning and thinking.
At Oaklands Junior School we understand that children with Special Educational Needs need additional support to be able to access and achieve. Philosophy for children is a great enabler for those with SEN as it gives accessibility and a sense of achievement as they follow the ‘think, commit, justify and reflect’ process. They can not be wrong as they have ownership of their ideas and opinions. It will help them have a structured way to question their thoughts and those of others that they may not understand. The problems and questions they have may not be the ‘big’ questions but they could be equally as important to them. A lot of P4C is oral and when writing is required those with SEN can collaborate with those that are more able in shared work. A strategy used by the class teacher to develop enquiries is to facilitate moves such as by repeating what a speaker has said by giving the headlines and clarifying. There is a lot of repetition and word work that supports everyone including SEN children.
Other ways in which the impact is currently monitored is through learning walks by the subject leader, lesson observations and planning scrutiny.
Pupil voice – A target this year is to run a pupil forum to gain an understanding of the pupils’ attitudes towards P4C. A forms survey will also be completed to ascertain what the children like. Dislike about P4C and about their confidence and enjoyment within the subject and if they recognise that they use it in other subjects.
Learning Walks and Observations
Scheduled for the Spring term 2022
Use as an intervention for emotions (social story?)
Working with the infants to introduce P4C to them
Further staff training for confidence