Philosophy for Children (P4C)

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Introduction to P4C

Why are we engaging with P4C at Ash Green?

“The aim of a thinking skills programme such as P4C is not to turn children into philosophers but to help them become more thoughtful, more reflective, more considerate and more reasonable individuals.”
Matthew Lipman


As part of the Sociatas Trust, we have been extremely fortunate to engage with the UK’s National Charity Sapere: Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education.

This has enabled every teacher at Ash Green to qualify as a Level 1 P4C Facilitator, with Miss Bishop and Miss Moss working towards extending their qualification to a Level 2.

Your child may have told you about P4C but you may still be wondering what it’s all about!

P4C, or Philosophy for Children, is an approach to learning and teaching which enhances children’s thinking and communication skills, boosts their self-esteem, and improves their academic attainment.

It was established over forty years ago by Professor Matthew Lipman of Montclair State University in the United States and is now practised around the world.

In P4C, a stimulus, such as a story, video clip or image, is shared with a group of children. The children are encouraged by a trained facilitator, such as a teacher, to come up with the kind of big, engaging philosophical questions about the stimulus which are at the heart of P4C.

Children might come up with philosophical 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?

Through a vote, the children then choose the question they would most like to discuss. The teacher gives the children time to think and reason individually about the question before facilitating the exchange of ideas and opinions as a group, or community of enquiry. Over time, the teacher supports the children to think more deeply and philosophically by encouraging the 4Cs of P4C – critical, creative, collaborative and caring thinking.

As questions grow more philosophical and imaginative, children learn to listen carefully to each other, to explore differences of opinion respectfully, and to value the ideas of others.

P4C in the Societas Trust policy

P4C Whole-school concept map

What does a P4C session look like?

The children usually sit in a circle to aid good listening and equal involvement. They think about the rules and guidelines for a successful enquiry and possibly focus on particular skills needed. The session usually starts with a game that helps build these skills.

Information about P4C sessions

How can you help your child to develop their P4C skills at home?
  • Take time to listen to them/talk to them about the P4C sessions in class
  • Be confident that you don’t always know the answer—its ok to ponder, not everything has or needs an answer.
  • Give them opportunities to talk about appropriate ‘big issues’ e.g. questions from newspapers or TV.
  • Use open-ended questions: Why do you think that? How did you decide? What do you think?


Useful books, videos and websites to develop P4C at home:

Philosophy Foundation

EYFS P4C Ideas

Teach Early Years


As soon as COVID 19 restrictions allow, we will be arranging for parents to come into school to experience some P4C sessions. We can’t wait to share this with you!

Over the past few months, we have been working towards our P4C Bronze Award and are thrilled to now have achieved it! We are now working towards the Silver P4C Award. Below are some comments made by the SAPERE assessor about celebrating the success of P4C so far at Ash Green.