Bourn Church of England Primary Academy

Philosophy for Children (P4C)

Philosophy for Children, or P4C, is an approach to teaching and learning, in which children take part in philosophical enquiry. It enhances thinking and communication skills, boosts confidence and self-esteem, and improves behaviour and well-being.

At Bourn, our Philosophy for Children provision is in keeping with our school ethos of working together in friendship, challenging ourselves and each other to be the best we can be. We aim for ‘life in all its fullness’; striving to make the world a better place. It also links intrinsically with ‘My Voice Matters’ – an in-school initiative which recognises and raises the profile of how children use their voice for communication, change and creativity and our school values of: hope, courage, justice, forgiveness and friendship. 

Our pupils take part in regular P4C sessions introduced by a stimulus, such as a story, video clip or image. Pupils then come up with engaging, philosophical questions, which are at the heart of P4C. These questions are then open to examination, further questioning and enquiry. They are contestable, central and common – that is, there is more than one valid point of view, the question is important in the lives of the children and it is a shared issue or concern. Children might come up with questions such as:

  • Is it ever OK to lie?
  • What makes you you?
  • Do we have to respect everyone?
  • Can good people do bad things?
  • Do we all have the same rights?

Pupils then vote on which question they would most like to discuss and then children are given time to think and reason individually about the question before exchanging ideas and opinions  as a group or community of enquiry. Over time, teachers support the children to think more deeply and philosophically by encouraging the 4 Cs of P4C: critical, creative, collaborative and caring thinking. As questions grow more philosophical and imaginative, children learn to listen carefully to each other, to respectfully explore differences of opinion and to value the ideas of others.