What is Philosophy Circles?

What’s the difference between Philosophy Circles and “traditional” P4C?

When we work with schools that have already tried Philosophy for Children, we often get feedback such as, “When we had philosophy training before, we wanted to do it. But now we know how to make it work.”

All P4C gets children thinking about challenging questions, and 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 discussion gets started faster. The children’s own questions are still important, but they emerge through discussion. Rather than stages, Philosophy Circles is built around three facilitation principles which run through the whole process. It makes it more fast-paced and versatile for use across the curriculum.

Philosophy Circles

"After 30 plus years of teaching, advisory and inspection experience I thought I’d seen plenty of innovative and exciting approaches in the classroom...

The traditional way of doing P4C, in stand-alone sessions of around one hour, doesn’t fit in your timetable. Teaching staff, already under pressure from all the things they need to squeeze in to the week, are wary of taking on “yet another thing”, and don’t feel they are ready to plan what to do and know that they are “doing it right”. So, although you want to, you lack the support you need to take the plunge.

The philosophy never gets to the children, and they never get the benefits of talking independently about challenging questions. Your quiet children stay quiet, and never get the chance to get their ideas out to the wider world. So how do you take philosophy from “nice idea” to something that is embedded in the life of your school?

The traditional arc of a P4C Enquiry takes 50 minutes to 1 hour. We would still advocate for this as the destination, but for many schools it's such a big commitment that it prevents them taking the first steps. Each Philosophy Circles session can fit into 30 minutes, and because it is a different way of exploring existing content, it's not "yet another thing to do"; instead, another way to do things. It explores your existing topics and texts for deep discussion opportunities, often drawing on "in role" scenarios to combine creative and critical thinking.

To help you embed P4C as easily and effectively as possible, we have designed a Philosophy Circles School Pack, comprised of Teachers' Handbooks, 100+ session plans for every subject in the curriculum, and online video tutorials.

To purchase, simply go to our Shop, or click on the product links at the bottom of the page. You can pay by card or paypal but most people choose to have an invoice sent to the school for payment later.

Click here to download a sample set of our Philosophy Circles session plans.



Get Moving

Compelling, physically active openings to promote everybody’s engagement. How to bring playground confidence into the classroom and create engagement from the first minute.


Opportunities for sustained disagreement that create CHALLENGE. How to spot juicy philosophical questions within your existing subjects to generate deeper learning.

Take a Back Seat

The crucial shift in the teacher’s role and status that give children INDEPENDENCE. How to plan less and feel confident in letting discussion grow organically.

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