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Report: A large-scale study on the benefits of Philosophy for Children sessions

Education Endowment Foundation | July 2015

An investigation by researchers from Durham University measured the impact of a year of weekly philosophy for children sessions on 3159 students in 48 schools across England. Their key conclusions were:

1. There is evidence that P4C had a positive impact on Key Stage 2 attainment. Overall, pupils using the approach made approximately two additional months’ progress in reading and maths. 2. Results suggest that P4C had the biggest positive impact on Key Stage 2 results among disadvantaged pupils (those eligible for free school meals). 3. Analyses of the Cognitive Abilities Test (a different outcome measure not explicitly focused on attainment) found a smaller positive impact. Moreover, in terms of this outcome it appears that disadvantaged students reaped fewer benefits from P4C than other pupils. It is unclear from the evaluation why there are these differences between the two outcomes. 4. Teachers reported that the overall success of the intervention depended on incorporating P4C into the timetable on a regular basis. Otherwise there was a risk that the programme would be crowded out. 5. Teachers and pupils generally reported that P4C had a positive influence on the wider outcomes such as pupils’ confidence to speak, listening skills, and self-esteem. These and other broader outcomes are the focus of a separate evaluation by the University of Durham.

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