P4C - Philosophy for Children

At St. Mary's, all our staff are trained in P4C (Philosophy for Children). 


What are the P4C principles?

Developing a Community of Enquiry requires more than just concentrating on better questioning. It is equally important to develop reasoning and reflection, both public and private, and these bring into play, among other things, emotions and the thoughtful expression of emotions. In short, the process is multifaceted and profoundly personal. It presents not only an intellectual challenge to those involved, but also a social and emotional one. It
encourages open-mindedness and creates conditions for change, both for individuals and for communities.
The principles include:
• Proper valuing of each person’s interests and questions
• Acknowledgement that each person’s experience or story is unique
• Proper valuing of knowledge, along with the recognition that no-one is all-knowing or all-wise
• Appreciation of different ways of interpreting and thinking


The 4C thinking model

The four aspects of P4C that certainly enhance its philosophical nature, but in effect are aspects of thinking that one might look for in any Community of Enquiry are:
Caring thinking
Collaborative thinking
Critical thinking
Creative thinking


For younger children, philosophical enquiry can be explained as a way of thinking together and sharing thoughts and questions about ‘Big Ideas’. For older children, the explanation would be more detailed. The process of philosophical enquiry involves all students in considering and then questioning the concepts or ‘Big Ideas’ they identify from reading, looking at or listening to the stimulus or starting materials. These questions are then shared, thought about carefully and explained more before the students select one that they find most interesting to discuss further.

Year 6 examples of P4C in the classroom

Year 5 examples of P4C

EYFS and Key Stage 1 P4C display.

Nursery talked about if we would like it if a dinosaur wanted to come and play with us, we had lots of thoughts.

In Nursery Mrs Kelly asked us how we could be a good friend, we talked about the picture and how the children were being friendly to each other.

In Nursery we used the pictures to talk about what thing make us angry.

Reception discussed their thoughts and feelings about a dinosaur coming to school! We got some very interesting points of view!

Reception compared living in Kenya and England. They discussed where they would prefer to live and gave their reasons. Some changed their minds after listening to their peers points of view.

Year 1 examples of P4C in the classroom

In Year 1, we learned about the story of David and Goliath. David had to be very brave! We talked about the times when we had to be brave and what it means to be brave. We made sure we were expressing our opinions in a respectful way, listening carefully to the person speaking and responding to their point of view. Some one us thought that you cannot be scared and brave at the same time. Others disagreed. What do you think?

Term 5- In Year 2 this week we discussed the story of Rapunzel, thinking about the questions "Who is the most powerful in the story?" and "Who is the villain in the story? Does this change as the story moves on?" We had lots of great discussions and even began to consider how different viewpoints changed our answers. We then thought about where we would place the Witch and Rapunzel on a scale from really evil to extremely good and innocent.

Term 6- We are using the book 'The Invisible' by Tom Percival this term in our P4C lessons. In week 1 we discussed how the little girl became invisible and what happened when she noticed other invisible people. Everyone agreed that she was invisible because she felt sad and lonely, like nobody noticed her anymore, but when she made new friends she became happier and therefore visible again.

Year 3 Philosophy for children display

Year 4 P4C Displays

Year 5 examples of P4C in the classroom

Year 5 and 6 P4C display

Year 6 P4C Wonder Wall