A philosophy studies programme for primary school students is to be implemented over the next few months across England.
Developed by a partnership of the Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education, the scheme comprises short videos and stories to be used in class. The resources will be used to prompt discussion around topics such as justice, knowledge and truth.
A smaller scale trial conducted by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), has already shown some promising results. The aim of the classes is to encourage children to ask questions, construct arguments and participate in reasoned discussion. Following the EEF trial, children’s maths and reading results were enhanced over the course of a year, and pupils from low-income backgrounds saw increased benefits in their academic attainment.
These claims have been criticised by some in the education sector, saying that the benefits of the programme have not been studied scientifically. The results of the first trial did not isolate the impact of the philosophy teaching alone, making it possible that other factors are responsible for higher attainment rates.
EEF is now rolling out the Philosophy 4 Children scheme across England with a £1.2 million cash injection. 9000 year 4 and 5 year olds in 200 primary schools will be participating.
EEF is running a number of trials to establish the impact of different teaching and learning programmes on pupil attainment. This includes an initiative to help students run their own research projects, a parent-student engagement scheme to boost literacy and language skills in three and four year olds, and a maths programme featuring teachers giving video feedback to students.
Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chairman of the Sutton Trust and chairman of the EEF said:
“Evidence is teachers’ greatest ally when it comes to deciding between different programmes or interventions. The evaluations of these programmes will add to the EEF’s growing source of robust and reliable evidence that teachers and school leaders can use.”