Philosophy for children at Elmridge

Elmridge is developing P4C (Philosophy for Children, Colleges and Communities) throughout the school. As you will see, when you read on, the value of philosophy clearly embodies the school’s educational vision and values. The enquiry-led learning that is seen in P4C lessons is utilised in other subjects such as history and the staff are keen to expand its use even further across the curriculum.  Philosophy is now represented on the timetable in all classes from Reception to Year 6 but pupils will also enjoy philosophical enquiry within lessons in other subjects. All class teachers have been trained at Level 1 in P4C through the Sapere organisation and over the next academic year a number of teachers will pursue additional qualifications.

Philosophy for Children (P4C) is an educational initiative built on the aspiration for dialogue about questions that matter, sometimes described as ‘big questions’ or questions about ‘big ideas’. It is an approach which impacts positively on children’s social and emotional, as well as intellectual development.

Philosophy literally means ‘lover of wisdom’ (from the Greek: ‘philo’=love, ‘sophia’=wisdom), and has its origins in the Socratic method of thought, asking and answering methodical questions to stimulate critical thinking, draw out ideas and expose assumptions. Philosophy can be thought of more as ‘a practice rather than another subject’, relevant to all areas of life – and applicable to different curriculum subjects.

Philosophical ‘big questions’ are ‘wondering questions’ – about meaning, truth, value, knowledge and reality – formed around philosophical concepts (such as ‘family’, ‘anger’, ‘jealousy’, ‘altruism’, ‘sameness’ or ‘difference’, for example) which are:

  • common to humans worldwide
  • central to how we think of ourselves and others – connected to human endeavour, our everyday experiences (which enquirers can draw upon to test out ideas, using concrete examples and counter examples)
  • contestable– open to examination, further questioning and enquiry – such concepts do not mean the same to everyone, and cannot be answered solely by researching facts or scientific investigation

P4C takes place within a Community of Enquiry, defined as ‘a group of people used to thinking together with a view to increasing their understanding and appreciation of the world around them and of each other’ – aiming to be ‘respectful of different experiences and open to other ways of thinking, but determined to think and act for themselves’.

Facilitated by a skilled P4C practitioner, participants foster a culture of collaborative (e.g. building on each other’s ideas, working together), caring (e.g. listening and appreciating other’s ideas), critical (e.g. asking ‘big idea’ questions, giving good reasons) and creative thinking (e.g. making connections, comparing things).

Within a community of enquiry, the focus shifts from traditional didactic teacher-centred learning to participants becoming co-enquirers who build on each other’s ideas to pursue shared (as opposed to competitive) thinking, connections and meaning-making.

Please find below some of the philosophical questions and themes that the pupils will be discussing in their communities of enquiry across an academic year:


Year 1

Is it fair to keep animals as pets?

What makes something special or valuable?

Is spending money more important than spending time?

Stories with morals, create your own stories

Challenging stereotypes.

How important is appearance?

Controlling nature


Year 2

Wealth, poverty, life priorities

Animal and human rights

Jumping to conclusions

Laws and responsibilities

Who would make your perfect friend?

What is true friendship?

Exploring poor behaviour

What are numbers? Do we need them?



Year 3

Is fur fair?

Modernity v tradition

Giving to charities

Selfishness and selflessness

Loneliness, friendships and a new start


Who is responsible for your teeth?

Eternal life


Year 4

The meaning of life, stereotypes

Control and personal freedom

Why do we enjoy being scared?

Fairness and qualities

Guilt and responsibility

What makes good music?

Words and body language

Explaining, considering and appreciating everyday things


Year 5

Should you follow orders?

Belonging, alienation


Is money real?

Understanding of religion

Personal values

Ownership and changing nature

Self-image, independence


Year 6

Social responsibility, making choices, community

Privacy and behaviour

Charities and giving

Comedy and historical tragedy- the ethics of finding humour in tragic historical events

Is there any such thing as a just invasion?

Nature and numbers

Photographs as memories

Do you need to see something to believe it?