The randomised controlled trial involved 3,159 pupils across 48 schools in the UK and was independently evaluated by a team at Durham University. Teachers were given two days of professional training before the year-long programme began and provided with ongoing support to help them deliver the philosophy lessons. The report shows that, the more disadvantaged pupils participating in the EEF trial saw their reading skills improve by four months, their maths results by three months and their writing ability by two months. Feedback from teachers throughout the trial suggests that Philosophy with Children had a beneficial impact on wider outcomes such as confidence, patience and self-esteem too.
The EEF report also notes the likely benefits in other areas: speaking confidence, listening skills, patience with other children and overall self-esteem. SAPERE is now going on to work with Durham University and the trial schools on a new research project funded by the Nuffield Foundation to assess these non-cognitive benefits of Philosophy for Children.
These results show that Philosophy with Children (or P4C) could be a promising and cost-effective way for schools to spend their pupil premium and improve outcomes, particularly for disadvantaged pupils
Almost all of those engaged in this work recognise gains in literacy and numeracy as an extrinsic good – or a happy side effect – of philosophical enquiry and not it’s aim nor its primary value. However they find themselves in an educational culture where these kinds of gains are easier to measure and are treated as enormously valuable by the government, hence the drive to shout about them. Having worked in this field for ten years, I rarely see philosophy practice that is not being valued for its intrinsic worth by children, teachers and philosophers. But I also recognise that to advance programmes of real worth, we can’t ignore the these kinds of measures.
This is great news for all of us working to advance the quality and accessibility of philosophy in schools and helps support our claim that this work has a positive impact on the life and learning of the children and young people we work with.
Here is a link to the EEF report: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/index.php/projects/philosophy-for-children
And here are a number of links to articles.