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Friday, July 10, 2015

Philosophy discussions for ten year olds can boost their reading and maths

"Encouraging primary school pupils to have philosophical discussions can boost their maths and reading results, according to new research conducted by Durham University."

Photo: Durham University

The study shows that children as young as nine and ten, who are encouraged to have philosophical discussions around topics such as truth, fairness and knowledge, can improve their progress in maths and reading by an average of two extra months with disadvantaged pupils making even bigger strides.

The research, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), looked at the effectiveness of an inquiry-based learning approach, called Philosophy for Children (P4C), which is used by 3,000 teachers in the UK. 

Disadvantaged pupils taking part in the intervention saw their reading skills improve by an additional four months, their maths results by three months and their writing ability by two months, compared to a control group not doing the philosophy sessions. Feedback from the teachers in the trial suggests that the Philosophy for Children approach had a beneficial impact on wider outcomes such as confidence, patience and self-esteem too.

At less than £30 per pupil, the researchers suggest that Philosophy for Children could be a promising and effective way to spend their pupil premium to improve outcomes, and close the poverty gap in attainment.

Lead researcher Stephen Gorard, Professor in the School of Education, at Durham University, said: “Our results suggest that these philosophy sessions can have a positive impact on pupils’ maths, reading and perhaps their writing skills. But crucially, they seem to work especially well for the children who are most disadvantaged. This is very encouraging as we, along with the EEF, are committed to helping tackle educational disadvantage.

“Evidence like this is extremely important in identifying what works and what doesn’t and to help headteachers decide how to spend their pupil premium funding for most benefit to their pupils.”
The team at Durham University worked with the charity Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education (SAPERE) to carry out a randomised controlled trial involving 3,159 pupils across 48 schools in the UK.
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Read the study here.

Source: Durham University News


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