St Catherine’s Catholic Academy in Sheffield has recently been awarded the SAPERE Gold Award for the outstanding commitment and progress made in Philosophy for Children (P4C).
P4C underpins St Catherine’s Curriculum, which is designed to encourage children’s independence, develop creative thinking and celebrate diversity. P4C provides an opportunity to create communities of enquiry to develop 4Cs thinking skills: creative, critical, collaborative and caring. Children learn to listen to and respect one another, and challenge and explore the beliefs and values of others. They develop their own views and make more deliberate and responsible judgements. P4C aims to nurture children to think together to increase their understanding and appreciation of the world around them, providing the foundations that will equip and prepare them to be empowered, confident and positive citizens.
Since embarking on the P4C leader role five years ago, Meghan Tipping has been passionate about developing a curriculum enriched by the pedagogy of P4C. Working closely with Deputy Head and Curriculum Specialist, Jonathan Lear, P4C has become the foundation of their curriculum. Achieving the Bronze award in February 2016 and Silver award in April 2017, Meghan has been dedicated to encouraging pupils to have an enquiring mind in all that they do.
The report stated that: The achievement of the school in developing a thoughtful, questioning, challenging and reflective learning community is exceptional.
P4C at St Catherine’s is employed as an approach to teaching and learning within a very impressive long-term and holistic strategy incorporating philosophical conceptions of learning and knowledge and innovative approaches to curriculum, community development, staff development, teaching and learning and arrangements of buildings, learning areas and furnishings.
P4C clearly has a positive influence on the teachers, teaching, community and pupils, including how children and adults interact with one another. The school’s ethos and environment are that of a friendly, caring and collaborative organisation, one which embodies creativity and critical thinking throughout. Children and adults happily engage in a relaxed manner; curiosity is explicitly encouraged, thoughtfulness is nurtured, reflection is given time and is rewarded.
As one of only 17 schools in the UK and the first in Sheffield to receive the Gold Award, St Catherine’s are rightly proud of their achievement. They will continue to undertake future work spreading the pedagogy of Philosophy for Children.