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 Societas 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 Mrs Murphy, our P4C lead, extending her qualification to Level 2b.

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 is 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

P4C Curriculum Statement

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

World Philosophy Day 2023

We are delighted to share that we have been awarded the SAPERE P4C Silver School Award! This is ‘in recognition of the school’s outstanding commitment and progress in P4C.’ The Silver School Award ‘celebrates the development of high quality P4C practice as integral to the school’s ethos, curriculum and values.’ The award assessor commented on the variety and depth of reasoning from children at Ash Green, as well as the strong commitment from staff and leadership.