Philosophy for Children

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?


This is just one of the questions which appears to have a simple answer straight away, but now see if you can think of a contrasting reason to your initial response. It becomes less obvious doesn’t it? This is the kind of thinking that Philosophy for Children (P4C) aims to develop in children at Bell Farm, developing justification and reasoning skills in response to big questions and concepts.

P4C is taught fortnightly, both as a standalone session and linked to the current topic being taught. It focuses on developing the thinking and debating skills of the children in a ‘community of enquiry’ where participants develop the 4 C’s: creative, critical, caring and collaborative thinking skills.

Philosophy for children is taught across the whole school, beginning with basic questions generated by the teacher in Nursery and developing into complete philosophical enquiries predominantly run by the children themselves by Year Six. The children develop their personal and communication skills, including respect for others, as well as their problem solving skills through debates with their peers in a secure facilitated environment. The consistent use of concept lightbulbs and vocabulary prompts across the school enables the children to become confident with the use of vocabulary for debating, using phrases such as ‘I agree with…’, ‘I disagree with…’ and ‘I would like to raise a contrasting point.’

A range of age appropriate stimuli are used, from picture books to video clips, artefacts to photos. Through using such a range of stimuli, we aim to develop the children’s wonderment about as many things as possible. We encourage this to be taken outside of the school environment and to be developed in the wider world as well.

Regular engagement with P4C benefits all areas of learning as the children apply their skills across the curriculum. It is a very powerful way to deepen understanding and enriches the children as learners and thinkers. All teachers at Bell Farm Primary School are P4C trained, allowing these skills to be developed throughout every school day.

Above all, we want children to be able to think philosophically and debate the bigger issues, enabling them to apply these skills to tackle problems in the classroom as well as in the wider world. We also aim to develop the children’s respect for other’s opinions and consider two sides to every story.

End of Year Expectations Philosophy for Children