Using research evidence to choose an intervention: SAPERE P4C at Lander Road Community Primary

Lander Road is a community primary school in Sefton, Liverpool. It caters for girls and boys aged 5 to 11 and also has a nursery with part-time places for 2- to 4-year-olds. It has a higher than average number of children eligible for free school meals. At its most recent Ofsted inspection it was judged to be a good school, with some outstanding teaching and outstanding personal development, behaviour and welfare support. Inspectors described it as ‘a calm and purposeful school where teachers and pupils are confident to explore new and exciting areas of learning.’

‘At Lander Road we pride ourselves on only using the most effective approaches when it comes to teaching and learning, so the weight of evidence that sits behind P4C was important to us in beginning our journey...we have enjoyed a number of highlights already, which serve to further convince us that P4C is having a great impact on the development of our pupils.’
Michael Sheerin, Assistant Head and P4C Lead

Lander Road began practising P4C with the aim of enriching its curriculum and building on the school’s existing pedagogy to further deepen children’s thinking. As one of the intervention schools in the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)’s Effectiveness Trial, Lander Road is following the SAPERE P4C Going for Gold programme, which offers a structured programme of training and support over three years to help schools embed and sustain high-quality P4C.

SAPERE trainer Julie McCann supports the school closely and visits the school at least once a term to work with staff. Assistant Head and P4C Lead Michael Sheerin says: ‘Our training sessions, facilitated by Julie McCann, have been engaging, challenging and enjoyable. As well as full training days without the children, which are very practical and practice-based, there have also been training days during which Julie has observed staff delivering P4C to help them develop their skills. She has also delivered enquiries with our classes for teachers and teaching assistants to watch. Staff have reported these to be really useful training sessions.’

Philosophical questions which children have come up with include:

Year 1: What is a family?

Year 3: Is imagination dangerous?

Year 5: To what extent do we have the right to hurt the world?

In September 2018, Lander Road was awarded the SAPERE P4C Bronze Award for outstanding commitment to and progress in P4C. SAPERE’s award assessors found a school that is fully embracing P4C in its teaching, learning, strategy and ethos. Highlights of the school’s submission included:

  • Children in Nursery use the phrase ‘we are becoming “becausers”’ to describe their progress in P4C
  • From Reception upwards, children are supported to come up with their own philosophical questions, and this is evident in displays in classrooms and in corridors
  • The weekly P4C question is displayed and regularly updated to reflect each new enquiry
  • Children are identifying philosophical concepts and ‘big ideas’ from stimuli and using concept activities to explore these concepts and ideas
  • All classes have a working wall which changes with each new enquiry, and there is a central corridor display which highlights the 4Cs of P4C – critical, creative, collaborative and caring thinking
  • Children can ask for a particular highlight of school life to be included in their annual school reports and many children choose to include P4C as their highlight

‘P4C helps you think of problems and arguments you haven't seen before.’ Lander Road student

 The school is on track to receive the SAPERE P4C Silver Award in Autumn 2019.

 During their visit in 2018, Ofsted inspectors identified the power of P4C in supporting SMSC and children’s progress:

‘In March [2018] we were visited by a team of Ofsted inspectors, who were interested in the pedagogical approaches we used across the curriculum. During a P4C lesson in Year Five, one of the inspectors observed the contributions to the enquiry from a boy with SEN, who drew together environmental and economic issues about rainforests.'

'The inspector described the progress he saw within this session for this pupil as remarkable. We explained how we have tried to ensure that much of our pedagogy in different subjects is based upon similar bodies of research. Philosophy for Children, the Singaporean approach to maths, and Reciprocal Reading, all put a high emphasis on metacognitive skills which then pervade the rest of the curriculum. We believe that this integrated approach will, in the long term, provide our children with skills that will equip them for life.’
Michael Sheerin, Assistant Head and P4C Lead