Non-cognitive impacts of Philosophy for Children

This study will explore the possible social, emotional and behavioural impacts of the programme Philosophy for Children (P4C). P4C is a well-established learning approach that uses the techniques of philosophical enquiry to enhance the development of primary and secondary students.

In July 2015 the researchers published the results of their randomised control trial evaluation of P4C, funded by the Education Endowment Foundation. This found that P4C could improve children's progress in maths and reading, with academic benefits more pronounced for disadvantaged pupils. 

This new Nuffield-funded study will take this recent trial further, by exploring whether P4C has an impact on non-cognitive outcomes such as:

  • pupils’ relationships with school, teachers and peers
  • pupils’ confidence, well-being and self-esteem
  • pupils’ voice and how they engage with opinions that differ from their own
  • teachers’ attitudes towards pupils’ learning

As with the recent trial, this study will focus on pupils in Year 4 and 5 from areas of high social disadvantage. Over 2,500 pupils and 200 teachers (from 28 schools) will complete detailed questionnaires before and after P4C. The researchers will also conduct in-depth interviews with pupils and teachers.

The researchers will be able to compare these pupils with a sample of similar children in the control group of another trial they are conducting (the Youth Social Action trials).

Although previous studies have focused on the non-cognitive benefits of P4C, this will be the first study of this scale, with randomly allocated schools.

Project details



Dr Nadia Siddiqui, Professor Stephen Gorard and Dr Beng Huat See

School of Education, Durham University

Funding programme:


Grant amount and duration:


1 January 2015 – 30 November 2016