P4C at Alverstoke CE Junior School, a SAPERE Gold Award School

Alverstoke Church of England Junior School Profile

Alverstoke Church of England Junior School in Gosport, Hampshire is a larger than average junior school. It is set in a small village setting within a large town. The large majority of children are from a white British heritage. The number of children with learning difficulties and/or disabilities is below the national average, as is the number of children who are eligible for the Pupil Premium. It is ‘Outstanding’ in personal development, behaviour and welfare alongside leadership and management with an overall grading of ‘Good’ as judged by Ofsted in their latest inspection (March 2017) and was deemed to be ’Outstanding’ in their SIAMS (church) inspection in February 2016. In their recent Ofsted report, the inspector commented on children’s ability to ‘communicate sensitively and thoughtfully with others about important issues and values’ which the school identified as a strength through the teaching of P4C.

Importance of P4C

The school has embraced a whole school approach to P4C and sees it as the ‘golden thread’ which runs through the entire curriculum and underpins the ethos of the school.

P4C was introduced a number of years ago by SAPERE trainer, Alison Allsopp. Alison has been fully supported by the school’s headteacher and together they have ensured that the investment in P4C, in terms of time and resources, has been effective and sustained. All teachers in the school are SAPERE Level 1 trained with the headteacher and other senior leaders trained to SAPERE Level 2. When recruiting new staff, an interest and knowledge of P4C is ‘desirable’.

The school has encouraged children to be critical thinkers; confident in questioning and taking an active interest in the world around them. Behaviour in the school is deemed to be ‘outstanding’, although the school is aware that some learners can be passive, conforming to expectations and therefore lacking self-challenge. Through P4C, children are encouraged to challenge their own views and thinking (and those of others) and to reflect deeply and spiritually.

Alverstoke takes an active role in SAPERE’s International Community of Enquiry and have had teaching colleagues visit from Shanghai to share good P4C practice. The school achieved the SAPERE Gold award in June 2016 and works with the University of Wincester, a SAPERE partner, where students specialise in P4C.

Alverstoke involves parents in the pedagogy behind P4C. The P4C Leader hosts an enquiry based session with new Year 3 parents at the beginning of each academic year, which explains why they practise P4C in the school and shows parents what an enquiry looks like. The most recent enquiries are updated on the school website so that children have the option to discuss the chosen question from their enquiry in class at home should they wish to.

Impact of P4C on Learning

Alverstoke now sees children who are critical thinker and thrive on challenging both themselves and others. The school’s Key Stage 2 tests are well above the national average in all subjects and teachers value the impact P4C has had on learning and attainment in every year group, but particularly with English and RE.

The Views of the School: 

Graham Cutter, Headteacher: P4C encourages our pupils to develop an open-minded, critical approach to thinking. It enables them to articulate their ideas with great depth and gives them the tools to respond thoughtfully to the thoughts of others. 

Alice Gardner, Class Teacher: P4C allows children to fully discuss and express themselves across the whole curriculum. Subjects such as English, RE and Science enable children to apply the skills developed through P4C enquiries; through discussion and questioning, children engage in learning deeply.

Elise Gower, TA and Governor: Children’s self-esteem and confidence in their learning has increased greatly and this is because P4C empowers them, allows them to question whilst learning, gaining more knowledge along the way.

Year 3 pupil: P4C helps me to learn from others and understand that it is okay to disagree sometimes.

Year 4 pupil: Through P4C, we can discuss and build on the ideas of others which helps us to learn more about other people’s views.

Year 5 pupil: I like that in P4C we can explore different matters from around the world. It has helped me personally with problem solving in Maths as I now think more deeply about the ways in which a problem could be solved.

Year 6 pupil: P4C quite simply allows us to build on our deeper thinking skills. We reflect regularly on what we have learnt and how we can apply this knowledge and understanding to the world around us.

The Golden Thread

P4C is at the heart of the school’s curriculum; each unit involves an enquiry linked with concepts to enable children to broaden their understanding and deepen their thinking. Alverstoke is a Church of England school and revised the school’s Christian values in September 2015 , as this was felt to be important to children’s learning. The school also has Foundations of Learning which are closely linked with the 4Cs of P4C. Teachers have found that through this intertwined approach to teaching, children can identify how P4C is central to all learning.

Children’s Philosophical Questions

When planning a P4C enquiry, teachers at Alverstoke are mindful of how their enquiry links with the Christian values, Foundations of Learning and aspects of spiritually. Below are some examples of questions from each year group:

Year 3: Is it important to tell the truth?

Year 4: Are we born with courage?

Year 5: Is God real?

Year 6: Is death a bad thing?

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