“P4 aims to help children become more thoughtful, more reflective, considerate and reasonable individuals” 

Professor Matthew Lipman, Founder of P4C

Philosophy for Children (P4C) is an approach to learning and teaching that enhances children’s thinking through the 4 C’s:

  • Collaborative thinking – finding solutions together
  • Caring thinking – understanding others and being respectful of different opinions
  • Creative thinking – making connections and thinking of new ideas
  • Critical thinking –understanding what we think and why

At Bentley High Street we take the strategies and ideas of a P4C approach and incorporate this into our curriculum by teaching it within subject areas as opposed to a separate subject. Every topic begins with an enquiry question and this guides the teaching and learning within this topic. 

 We believe it is important for children to develop their own views and opinions by exploring and listening to the ideas expressed by others in conversation or discussion. Pupils are encouraged to ask questions and answer questions in all areas of the curriculum thereby developing their communication and language skills allowing them to express their own thoughts, feeling and ideas.  

Curriculum Intent                                                 Aims and Purposes

Purpose of study

Philosophy for Children (P4C) stimulates thinking skills and improves critical, creative and rigorous thinking in children. The national curriculum is beginning to recognise the importance of thinking as a basis for children’s learning. A high quality curriculum that incorporates P4C teaching strategies supports children in developing higher order thinking skills and improves communication skills. As pupils progress, they should be able to become clearer, more accurate and be able to show awareness of other arguments and values before reaching a conclusion.


P4C focuses on thinking skills and communal dialogue and aims to build a ‘community of enquiry’. Within this there are four types of thinking that are central to the P4C approach.

  • Collaborative: thinking with others

  • Caring: thinking of others

  • Critical: making reasoned judgements

  • Creative: creating new ideas


Curriculum Implementation                  Subject Content and Organisation Across School

P4C is taught through other subjects and this allows children to become fully immersed in subject areas. Children develop thinking through specifically designed subjects that are all based around an enquiry question.


P4C in the Early years has a significant impact on pupils’ progress in the prime areas:


Personal, Social and Emotional Development- supports communication and language within developing relationships with others and developing turn-taking opportunities.

  • It supports children in responding to what others are saying as well as taking account of what they are saying and responding appropriately. (Development matters framework)

  • Children begin to show confidence when speaking to others about own interests and opinions. (Development matters framework)

  • P4C also supports children to understand that their own actions can affect other people (DM) as well as the understanding that other children may have different likes and dislikes to them. P4C teaching and learning strategies support pupils in understanding similarities and differences between themselves and others and showing sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings. (DM)


Communication and Language- supports Personal, Social and Emotional Development. A child who can communicate their needs, ideas and feelings develops a strong sense of self and is able to relate to others. It supports the development of effective communication skills e.g. eye contact.

  • Children are able to exercise their ability to use talk to organise, sequence and clarify thinking, ideas, feelings and events. (DM)

  • They express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. (DM)


It is our belief that the prime areas are fundamental to children’s learning and development in specific areas and are crucial in order to support the development of life-long learning.


P4C is not explicitly taught and the skills involved in P4C sessions are embedded into other curriculum subject areas. Children are therefore able to be fully immersed in their learning and able to make connections between their learning experiences across the curriculum.


In English P4C supports children in developing spoken language and encourages them to transfer thoughts into written work.


Through philosophical enquiry, children are provided with regular opportunities to make progress in all statutory requirements for spoken language outlined in the National Curriculum.


The National Curriculum statutory requirements for spoken language states that all pupils should learn to:


• listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers

• ask relevant questions to extend their understanding and knowledge

• use relevant strategies to build their vocabulary

• articulate and justify answers, arguments and opinions

• give well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including for expressing feelings

• maintain attention and participate actively in collaborative conversations, staying on topic and initiating and responding to comments

• use spoken language to develop understanding through speculating, hypothesising, imagining and exploring ideas

• speak audibly and fluently with an increasing command of Standard English

• participate in discussions and debates

• gain, maintain and monitor the interest of the listener(s)

• consider and evaluate different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others

• select and use appropriate registers for effective communication.


In mathematics, children discuss their work and explain the thinking behind their answer and why it is correct. They develop thinking through higher order questioning and give examples.


In science, children engage in scientific enquiry where they communicate their findings. They respond to suggestions about how to find things out and respond to suggestions and offer their own ideas about how to find the answer to a question. They ask questions and show interest and curiosity.


In history, children understand how the past has been interpreted and represented by different people. They ask and answer questions and demonstrate an understanding of the results of change and how it affects us now.


In geography pupils express their views and show understandings of environments and cultures. They are able to make reasoned judgments and views of the implications of these in the world.


In RE/Jigsaw, children understand the similarities and differences between themselves and others and learn about celebrations and traditions in other religions. They learn to respect others opinions and beliefs and express themselves in a safe environment whereby they feel they can ask questions of others.

Useful Links

The Philosophy Man

P4C at home

  • Have a short conversation or discussion whereby you share thoughts and ideas as well as give reasons. This could be about a topic covered at school, a book they are reading, news articles or photograph etc. 
  • Play the 'odd one out' choosing 3 objects, pictures, family members or animals etc. which is the odd one out and why? Give reasons. Is there more than one?
  • Ask children - would you rather questions. E.g. Would you rather travel to the past or the future? Would you rather live without your TV or your bed? Why?
  • Good because and bad because questions. E.g. If we could hear peoples thoughts, if writing was never invented, if dinosaurs still roamed the Earth.
  • Make connections between different objects. Have some objects out and ask children to explore the connections between 2/3 different objects (or more).