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Bow School

Philosophy for Children (P4C) at Bow School

Watch our inspiring film about P4C at secondary school


Bow School is proud to be a Gold Award Philosophy for Children (P4C) school, one of a handful in the UK. We are passionate about giving our students a head start in their learning by embedding P4C in our Y7 and Y8 English and Humanities curriculum. At Bow we place an emphasis on the development of critical thinking, oracy, literacy and confidence – with P4C underpinning these skills.

P4C is an approach to teaching and learning that highly challenges both students (and teachers) to think and question more deeply.  It fosters an atmosphere of open, creative discussion among pupils of all ages, and its success has been noted in many school inspection reports and academic studies. P4C is one of the many ways in which Bow School develops the transferable skills students will need in further education and employment.

P4C was originally devised as a programme for 6-16 year olds by Professor Matthew Lipman in the United States and is now used throughout the world. Research has clearly established that P4C improves behaviour, motivation, and learning, as well as achievement for pupils.  It places emphasis on building social and emotional skills, as well as cognitive abilities.

Structure of a P4C enquiry

Starting with a stimulus, such as a short film, poem or story, the students are encouraged to ask their own questions. The whole group then decides (e.g. by voting) which question it would most like to discuss. The teacher gives children time to think and reason individually about the chosen question before exchanging ideas and opinions as a group – a community of enquiry. Through discussing their questions children learn to listen carefully, to explore differences of opinion respectfully and to value the ideas of others. Regular P4C sessions help children to build their self-confidence and increase their willingness to participate, especially those who start with lower levels of self-esteem. As P4C uses a mainly verbal approach it is particularly motivating for children who struggle with writing.

Benefits of P4C

  • Increased motivation to enquire and learn.
  • More critical and reflective thinkers and learners.
  • Improved confidence and self-esteem.
  • A variety of CPD opportunities to be trained in new strategies to enhance teaching skills.
  • Greater confidence with using open-ended questioning and dialogue.
  • Greater pupil engagement in learning and the curriculum.
  • Enhanced literacy and oracy

Find out more

To find out more P4C training at Bow School, or how to embed P4C at secondary school, please contact Sim Khera-Lye at

Further information: