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Philosophy programme for primary schools to be trialled across England

25/10/2016 Joanna

A large-scale trial of a promising philosophy programme for primary school students is to be conducted across England over the coming months.

Developed by the Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education, the Philosophy 4 Children scheme sees teachers using short video clips or stories to prompt structured discussions around topics such as truth, knowledge and fairness.

Designed to help children become more willing and able to ask questions, construct arguments and engage in reasoned discussion, the programme has already been tested on a smaller scale by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), with highly encouraging results.

It was shown that primary school pupils' maths and reading attainment were enhanced by two additional months over the course of a year, with pupils from low-income backgrounds seeing even more pronounced benefits.

As such, the EEF is now providing £1.2 million to support a broader trialling of Philosophy 4 Children among 9,000 year 4 and 5 pupils attending 200 English primary schools. The aim will be to find out if the intervention can produce similarly positive results on a broader scale.

The scheme is one of a number of trials EEF is funding to determine the impact of different teaching and learning programmes on pupil attainment. Other approaches include an initiative to help pupils run their own research projects, a parental engagement scheme to bolster literacy and language skills in three and four-year-olds, and a maths programme that sees teachers recording videos of themselves explaining problems, instead of providing written comments.

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."

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