Do you value P4C but struggle to fit it in?
You know enough about P4C to think it would be good for your school. But there are obstacles to implementing it. Traditional one-hour stand-alone sessions won’t fit your timetable. Teaching staff, already under pressure, are wary of taking on “yet another thing” and aren’t sure if they’re “doing it right”. So how can you support colleagues to make P4C work with your existing curriculum?
Philosophy Circles Level 1: The Philosophical Classroom
Now there is an easier way to make the most of P4C in your school, without having to change your timetable. It has three levels, each designed to embed P4C in a different area of school life. Level 1: The Philosophical Classroom, will show you how to get all the benefits of P4C through everyday teaching. Levels 2 and 3 will be launched soon.
This two-day course helps you grasp the principles of Philosophy Circles, put them into practice, and share them with your colleagues. It includes over 150 primary topic session plans and other resources that will allow your school to embed philosophy from Reception to Year 6.
How have we worked with schools like yours?
Download a detailed information pack with case studies from schools like yours.
Help children find their voices
More and more children arrive in reception scarcely talking at all
Parents distracted by social media speak less to their children, and the impact is growing. In one school with many younger parents, children joining reception completely nonverbal rose from five, to half to the class.
If children don't learn to talk confidently to groups in their primary years, it's unlikely they ever will. It impacts their learning and their economic and social potential.
Philosophy Circles can help. You'll learn how to overcome the different obstacles children have to speaking, and get (almost) every child talking:
- Playground Confident, Classroom Shy - how to empower children who clam up in the classroom
- Feed Forward - a simple change to give speech-poor children time to catch up
- Chance, Chain, Choose - how to reduce inequality in the classroom
- Separating, Thinking and Speaking - how to beat the "I dunno" card
- Unwrongification - how to free children from the fear of getting it wrong
- Small Talk, Big Talk - how to keep them talking while raising the stakes
Children speak best when they are standing up
Philosophy Circles’ Get Moving activities get children talking from the first minute. Learn how this high-energy approach works, so you can engage your learners to talk - not just in philosophy but across your teaching.
- How to make thinking a game by making it physical
- Community-building activities to help your class collaborate
- How philosophy playfulness leads to "deep fun"
- How to create shared experiences that stimulate thinking
- Argumentag and other debate games that build confidence
Y-Questions that stretch but don't scare
Less confident speakers can fear speaking in class in case they get it wrong. That freezes their speaking while more confident children do the talking and speed ahead. The Y-Questions at the heart of Philosophy Circles are difficult to decide and hard to be sure of. This allows less confident learners to feel they won't get it wrong, while giving a greater challenge to able children who are used to getting it right. In the course and supporting resources, you'll learn:
- Why closed questions can be better than open ones
- How to find stimuli that encourage thinking, but don't say what to think
- How Philosophy in Role in your topics engages children's imaginations
- How children can create their own Y-Questions - and when to use your own
- How children can tell stories that enrich their thinking and writing
It has been fascinating to watch the children engage with a range of challenging topics with maturity, enthusiasm and empathy thanks to the facilitation provided by Tom. Their curiosity was inspired by the thought-provoking stimuli in each session and several individuals, who usually find it challenging to share their ideas, came to the fore during the big discussions.
Pupils comment that they are thoroughly enjoying P4C and enthusiastically anticipate their lessons with Tom each week; they also site that ‘they enjoy the challenges to their thinking.’
Since commencing P4C, we have noticed a dramatic increase in the children’s ability to discuss concepts with their peers and they have vastly improved in their ability in looking at one another when speaking, in actively listening to one another and in building upon and challenging others’ views and opinions. Before the lessons started, the children were not listening deeply to one another and responding to one another constructively – they had their opinion and that was it. We have also noticed an increase in confidence and concentration.
Initially, the children tended to direct their responses towards the adult. After a couple of weeks however, they were looking at the child they were responding to and dialogue bounced around the room without adult intervention.
The children’s critical reasoning skills were also developed; children were starting to support their views with reasons.
Enquiry based methods are also being instigated by the pupils themselves in other curriculum areas:
- Who is the villain in Macbeth?
- Who is responsible for King Duncan’s death?
- Was the Highwayman guilty of any crime?
- Is jealousy an acceptable motive for murder?
- Can murder ever be justified?
As teachers, we are excited about working elements of P4C into our day-to-day classroom practice, particularly when creating and discussing questions during class reading sessions.
Shareen Johnson and Jonathan Hall, Amesbury Primary School
Practical for Teachers
How planning less gives more space for children’s independence
With the ever-increasing pressure from above, teachers feel more and more accountable for planning every minute of children’s learning. This creates a dependency culture, with children always looking to the teacher. Learn how planning less and letting the questions do the work fosters greater independence for children and faster progress for your class.
- Scribe, don’t script: how to be at the service of a discussion instead of leading it
- Sessions that support deeper reflection about seasonal events such as Christmas, harvest and Easter
- How to create deep, worthwhile discussions within a 30 minute timetable slot
- Dozens of ready-to-use activities you can adapt for any context
- “Making it real” time within the course to start applying the principles to your teaching
- Simple, memorable principles that connect with your values as a teacher
Why your physical position in the classroom is key - and needs to change more than you'd think
We have to be able to command children’s attention in order to teach. But the techniques which establish our presence work against us when we want children to look to one another for answers. With Philosophy Circles, you'll learn some tested techniques for changing your role in the classroom by something as simple as where you sit.
- How to take a step back and let children develop independence
- How giving children “teacher power” improves discussions
- How to deepen their thinking rather than adding your own
- Forgetful Storytelling - a joyful route to a collaborating class
- How to be a philosophical teacher without having studied philosophy
Feedback from September 2017's INSETs:
"I cannot describe the buzz and vibe from the staff, all down to you."
"You really did create a huge buzz in school, which is a difficult shout on the first day back! You covered everything we wanted out of the training and gave us mountains of material to use in class. I loved the fact you gave each phase some planning time to discuss ideas and plan sessions and then trial them out of colleagues. You have definitely given us some inspiration and I am very excited to see what happens next."
"There was a buzz during the staff meeting, which for any member of staff attending a staff meeting knows this is a rare thing! All the staff said how enthused and excited they felt to get back into their classrooms and try out the methods they had been shown."
"The questions raised interested everyone and there was a real buzz in the room. Our training was full of practical activities and games, with the just the right amount of discussion about teaching techniques interspersed. What an inspiring day!"
"It is us who would like to thank you. It was such an inspirational INSET and the staff were truly excited. Several of us have run introductory sessions with the children and although it is early days the enthusiasm is palpable."
Interested in booking a January INSET? Send us a quick message with your contact details below and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
Quick and easy to expand to your whole school
Handouts from training courses often sit in the 'INSET graveyard'. It's full of ideas that sounded great on the day but which never quite got passed on to colleagues. Teachers are very busy, and so new initiatives often get buried under the hectic pace of day to day teaching. To avoid that, the course includes attractive minibooks that are written with busy teachers in mind. Our huge range of resources give all the support for you and colleagues to start straight away: everything you need is provided.
Minibooks that make the key principles easy to absorb
All the key ideas of Philosophy Circles have been carefully constructed around three principles. These are explained a minibook that is succinct enough for even a busy teacher to find the time to read.
Get Moving - high-energy, active techniques to maximise engagement
Y-Questions - how to find questions that will provide real challenge
Take a Back Seat - how to change your role to give children independence
The book has memory aids in the form of stories, summaries and fun activities so it's easy for colleagues to make it part of their general teaching style.
You’ll also receive copies of the Thinkers’ Games minibook
- Strategies for making thinking physical to promote engagement
- Techniques and frames for question creation
- Over 30 flexible games that can be adapted for any subject matter
Over 130 session plans for use within the primary curriculum
Most teachers who discover philosophy for children love the idea, but can’t find an hour for a session that does not connect to a crowded curriculum. So P4C gets squeezed out, and children miss out on the chance to deepen their thinking.
This course includes a wealth of resources for 30 minute sessions on the most popular primary school topics. It makes it another, richer way to do what you do already, rather than something else to squeeze in.
Over 120 session plans with a consistent, easy to follow format, plus a wealth of supporting stimuli and other resources.
The Snail and the Whale
The Lighthouse Keepers’ Lunch
Myths and Monsters
St. George and the Dragon
Tame and wild animals
Mind and body
Invaders and Settlers
World War One
Art, Design and Technology
Health and Diet
Changes and new beginnings
Over 120 curriculum based session plans
Self- and peer- assessment tools
These resources inspire and instigate current discussions with the children which can occur in many curriculum areas. The mini resource booklets are great too as they are concise and clear. The resources are practical, effective and require very little preparation- which is great!
Though we have separate P4C sessions, we have easily and seamlessly begun to use it in other curriculum areas.
Kayleigh Dell, Greenway Primary School
What’s the difference between Philosophy Circles and “traditional” P4C?
All P4C gets children thinking about challenging questions, where teachers act as facilitators rather than knowledge-givers. Traditional P4C follows a series of stages. Children see or read a stimulus, think about the ideas in it, create questions, evaluate the questions, and then choose one to talk about. In Philosophy Circles, the facilitator usually asks the first question, so the children get thinking and talking straight away. Children’s own questions and ideas still emerge and grow through discussion. Rather than strict stages, Philosophy Circles is built around three facilitation principles which run through the whole process, making it more fast-paced and versatile for use across the curriculum.
This all sounds great, but what will OFSTED say?
With the relentless focus on data, everything schools do has to show an impact on maths and literacy. Fortunately, not only does OFSTED look very favourable on Philosophy for Children, but a recent EEF study demonstrated that it had a positive impact on both maths and literacy scores. We are excited about philosophy for its own sake, but it’s nice to know that it has a benefit for measurable outcomes, and in particular that it helps to diminish the difference between disadvantaged children and their peers.
‘Philosophy for Children is giving pupils the skills they need to present a point of view and become more articulate, thus boosting their confidence
St Matthews School, Westminster
“Impressively, year 2 pupils can identify ethical dilemmas in their fiction books and propose related questions for discussion in philosophy lessons” “Philosophy lessons challenge pupils to respond to probing questions, such as, “Are all humans connected in some way?”
Churchfields Infant School, South Woodford
The school advises and supports other schools in the use of philosophy with children. This exemplary practice is spreading throughout the school and is having a positive impact on pupils ‘communication and thinking skills and this is beginning to be reflected in their achievement. In an excellent philosophy lesson in the nursery children were challenged to think about the characteristics of two imaginary characters and whether they would change depending on their facial expressions or on what they wear. The curriculum is broad and balanced and meets pupils’ needs well, including the excellent promotion of their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and philosophy.
SparHawk Infant and Nursery School, Norfolk
In a year 5 and 6 philosophy lesson, excellent use was made of a recently released Christmas advertisement for a famous store to encourage pupils to identify sophisticated concepts such as reliability, hope, trust and friendliness. This work made a particularly good contribution to developing their social and moral awareness
North Lakes School, Penrith
‘The thought provoking and exciting curriculum the school has developed over the last two years is an outstanding component of the school’s success (this includes) the development of ‘Philosophy for Children’, a powerful tool which both excites the pupils and gives them the confidence to explore stimulating and challenging ideas and concepts. It not only strengthens their academic learning, but also encourages their empathy for others and gives them insights into the adult world
Ropsley Primary School
"All the positive testimonials provided by other schools was certainly a winning factor for us. The training and workshops were simply outstanding."
I inherited my role as P4C coordinator from my colleague who tasked me with planning a Philosophy Day. I had looked at several workshops and was pleased to stumble across The Philosophy Man website. All the positive testimonials provided by other schools was certainly a winning factor for us. The training and workshops were simply outstanding.
All the staff had basic P4C training but did not know how to use it within their classrooms. This then acted as a CPD opportunity for all staff and this was furthered in the staff meeting. There was a buzz during the staff meeting, which for any member of staff attending a staff meeting at the end of a half term, knows this is a rare thing! All the staff said how enthused and excited they felt to get back into their classrooms and try out the methods they had been shown.
After the workshops, I interviewed some children about their experience. I deliberately picked children who really struggle with the academic side of school life. One child, who had a workshop on bargaining for his life against a Mayan tribe, said “I loved the P4C workshop. It was so much fun to think of reasons why my life was valuable and the best part was, we didn't have to do any work!”. The children saw the workshops as a chance to express themselves.
Thank you so much for inspiring us to continue with the exemplary training you provided and we look forward to working with you in the future!
Dulverton Primary School
"The resources are practical, effective and require very little preparation- which is great!"
After an inspiring and informative Inset Day, led by Tom, all staff were eager to try out P4C strategies and felt strongly about the principles P4C promoted.
P4C has enabled children to voice their opinions in a calm and controlled manner whilst having their views challenged. It has provided them with time to critically think about their own morals, beliefs and thoughts.
We invited Tom back for Interfaith Day! Through P4C, children naturally made comparisons and built upon their RE knowledge. Children thoroughly enjoyed the current and interactive assemblies, pitched appropriately for each Key Stage.
The weekly bulletins inspire and instigate current discussions with the children which can occur in many curriculum areas. The mini resource booklets are great too as they are concise and clear. The resources are practical, effective and require very little preparation- which is great!
Though we have separate P4C sessions, we have easily and seamlessly begun to use it in other curriculum areas.
Greenway Primary School
BONUS FOR INSET DAYS
Tailored resources so philosophy starts in reception and KS1
Much primary school training is focused on KS2, with Early Years teachers left to adapt as they can. Our sequence of a year’s worth of professionally filmed “Spot and Stripe” videos provide the perfect introduction to philosophy for younger children, introducing children to discussion and argument through colourful, fun characters and irresistible questions.
Also in the series...
The Wild West
Town and countryside
Booking and Delivery Models
For the deepest impact and so we can guide you through the whole programme, most schools choose two or more days including time to observe us working with children.
|Peak INSETs Full day||Mon, Fri Full/half day||Tue – Thu Full/half day||School Packs||Teacher Packs|
|from £1250||£1250 / 800||£1000 / 700||1 included||30 included|
Are you in a cluster or MAT?
If your school lacks the budget, but you can be flexible and arrange a day at short notice, ask to go on our list for stand-by days. When we are working in your area and have availability, we will email you to offer a day at a discounted rate. Contact us using the form below to join the list.
Resources Included With Your First Day
School Resource Pack
- Download of Philosophy Circles Resource Compendium - 100+ session plans
- Free upgrades to Philosophy Circles Resource Compendium until December 2018.
- Philosophy Circles Teacher Handbook
- Copy of Thinkers’ Games
Peak INSETs are the day or two at the start and end of each term and half-term. All prices are +VAT.