Do you do P4C, but want teachers to "own it" more?
You know enough about P4C to value its contribution to your school. Teachers enjoy facilitating discussions and have seen philosophy make an immediate impact with their pupils. They may be already using our extensive bank of Philosophy Circles session plans. However, you feel staff need extra support in crafting their own sessions into their topics, so that P4C becomes an integral part of their long-term planning.
Curriculum Clinics: One-to-one Collaboration with Teachers or Year Team Groups
Curriculum Clinics give teachers or year teams personal tuition and coaching in embedding P4C sessions into their topics. We explore their established curriculum plans and work with them to pinpoint opportunities for where deep philosophical questions can push their and challenge their pupils.
These personal sessions build upon training the teacher may have already had to ensure P4C doesn’t get squeezed out by other commitments, and ensure philosophical discussion remains a central component of their short, medium and long-term plans.
Create a curriculum full of 'deep fun'
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 they don't learn to talk confidently to groups in their primary years, it's unlikely they ever will. That impacts their learning, and their economic and social wellbeing.
Develop a curriculum that helps pupils overcome the different obstacles they have to speaking:
- When to create shared, immersive experiences that stimulate thinking
- How to host a Argumentag tournament and debate games that build confidence
- How to use our series of ‘Spot and Stripe’ videos to get EYFS children speaking
- Identify specific Community-building activities to help pupils collaborate
- When to use ‘Small Talk before Big Talk’ - how to keep them talking while raising the stakes
Develop a curriculum that increases pupils’ independence
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. Curriculum Clinics help teachers identify opportunities to pass responsibility to pupils, thus generating greater independence:
- Which particular activities are best for ‘Going into Orbit’
- How to take ‘safe risks’ with new ideas
- A tried and tested timetable for transferring facilitator roles to the pupils
- How to use displays to give pupils responsibility for choosing questions
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.
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.
Sharree Johnson and Jonathan Hall, Amesbury Primary School
Immediately enhance teachers’ practice
The collaboration starts before the Clinic begins. We ask teachers to send their medium- and long-term plans to use in advance, so we can begin planning with them from the very first minute. By the end of a session, they will have scribbled all over their plans with philosophical questions and potential activities, be buzzing with excitement, and have a fully formed session-plan ready to deliver the next day.
How to find stimuli that encourage thinking, but don't say what to think
It is said anything can be a stimulus, and this often leads to videos, pictures and stories loaded with powerful morals and messages. Curriculum Clinics give staff a deeper understanding of how to spot a stimulus that’ll create philosophical discussions, and which are best left for a winning assembly.
- How to use ‘Reverse, Remove, Exaggerate, Split!’ to create their own stimuli
- How to use the ‘Parable of the Spoons’ rule to test stimuli for objectivity
- How Philosophy in Role in your topics engages children's imaginations
Deeper understanding of 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.
- How Philosophy in Role adds substance to ‘contextually-shallow’ dilemmas
- How a simple grid makes creating Y-Questions easy for pupils
- How ‘Forgetful Storytelling’ leads to joyful classroom collaboration
- Why closed questions can be better than open ones
How to 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. It creates a dependency culture, with children always looking to the teacher. Curriculum Clinics help teachers plan less, and feel confident to let questions do the work:
- How to support deeper reflection about seasonal events such as Christmas, harvest and Easter
- Making the most of Thinkers’ Games spontaneously during an enquiry
- Simple, flexible go-to activities that remove the fear of going into the unknown
Extend philosophical thinking to the home
Today’s children are bombarded with stimulation: vlogs, social media, viral clips, and a 24-hour news-cycle depicting a divisive world. Children are absorbing information at a higher rate than ever. The need for genuine, face-to-face conversation to help pupils understand and process it all has never been greater. However, opportunities for meaningful discussion acan be rare. Curriculum Clinics not only help teachers plan for in-school learning, but provide tried-and-tested ideas for motivating parents to have reflective, philosophical discussion with their children:
- How to set home-talk, rather than home-work
- How to market and deliver parent events to inspire them to engage their pupils in deeper discussions
- How to empower parents to use the news as starting points for discussion
- How to get parents ‘Concept-Spotting’ to recognize the philosophically problematic aspects of their children’s experiences
BONUS: A whole-school philosophical assembly
The ever-increasing workload on teachers means more effort than ever goes into day-to-day classroom practice. This is often to the detriment of whole-school events and programmes – meaning pupils missing out on memorable experiences that broaden their friendship groups and develop their confidence.
See this in action with a whole-school assembly, with follow-up activities and session ideas, included in the day.
Curriculum Clinics not only help teachers plan less to better manage their day-to-day responsibilities, but provide staff with tried-and-tested ideas to maintain commitment to other ideas that may not be getting the time they deserve:
- How to spot concepts and questions that span age groups and so perfect for assemblies
- How to make the most of interactive displays to encourage a wider conversation
- How to make philosophy a competitive sport to be battled out between houses/year groups/schools!
- How to host a ‘Philosothon’ and invite other schools to take part too
- Guidance on which philosophical concepts for themed events
Why choose us to help you enhance your curriculum?
We are both experienced teachers who work with teachers and children week-in, week-out, and have both made careers out of delivering philosophy as part of the school curriculum.
Whilst teaching English at Sutton Grammar School, Jason Buckley rotated around Year 7 forms, facilitating discussions off the back of philosophical stories. These were popular, and years later when he was looking for a name for his new organisation, he remembered one boy exclaiming “Yay, it’s the Philosophy Man!”
Whilst Jason was fast making his name as The Philosophy Man, Tom Bigglestone was heading up his own projects - in schools. He became fascinated with the role of philosophy in the classroom, and alongside his duties as a Head of Department, he attended every course possible, crafted and delivered several philosophy curricula, and completed a Walter Hines Page Scholarship on assessing philosophical skills.
So in early 2017, we created Philosophy Circles – a streamlined approach to P4C based on experience trials with thousands of participants. Built around three simple principles, it enables shorter, high-impact sessions that use existing topics as fuel for philosophical enquiry.
Everything we do revolves around the goal of making Philosophy accessible to pupils. We are internationally renowned for our curriculum-based resources, but don’t take our word for it – read what teachers say below:
What’s the difference between Philosophy Circles and “traditional” P4C?
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.
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
Why can’t teachers just use our resources?
For P4C to have a long-term impact in schools, teachers need to be empowered to generate their own ideas for their own curricula. Although our session plans are extensive, they’re not exhaustive.
By booking Curriculum Clinics, you are giving teachers the opportunity for one-to-one CPD with practitioners who have been innovating at the cutting edge of P4C for years. We’re passionate about teachers becoming P4C planners in their own right so their pupils can enjoy unlimited philosophical enquiries as they progress through school.
How do we know your ideas will be any good?
Our lesson ideas are tried and tested day-in, day-out, and not only by us. Read what teachers have said about our resources below:
"Y1 Children loved the idea of no numbers and carried on talking through the consequences through lunch!"
On The Numbers' Strike:
'A fun brilliant lesson – a nice change from some heavy concepts we often discuss. Gave opportunity for problem solving thinking.'
'Great idea – enjoyed by all!'
'Y1 Children loved the idea of no numbers and carried on talking through the consequences through lunch!'
On Running Out of a Job
'Fantastic lesson, which allows the children to explore different ideas and question themselves. It also provides a good/easy platform for them to question each other'
'Y1 Having gathered and written down ideas for the fishermen we put them on tables and the children decided which they agreed with and defended their ideas –or changed their minds. They did very well and were fully engaged'
On Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden
Y1 children loved this and immediately related it to tooth fairies. They sat at tables to express which character they agreed with and were very good at explaining their reasoning.
'Provoked great discussion and higher order thinking. Some children particularly keen on fairies loved this lesson!'
St Hilary's 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
How to book
Your whole school day can be filled with curriculum clinics and philosophical assemblies. We just need half an hour for lunch and a resupply of tea!
To find out more about how we can work with you, fill in the contact form below or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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