Emma Jane Smith discusses her initial fear of teaching philosophy, and howawell-designedCPDprogramme helped her love it HowCPD changed MY VIEWOF TEACHING 58 | F or many people, the word ‘philosophy’ probably conjures up images of bearded old men in ancient Greece, debating the mysteries of life. This is certainly how I viewed it when it was suggested we introduce Philosophy for Children (P4C) into our curriculum. How would we find time for it? What possible impact could it have on our pupils in one of the most deprived areas of the country? But it did have an impact. From pupils treating each other with greater respect, to their ability to really think about their answers across other subjects, it was clear – even in the early days – that something special was happening. However, the journey that led us to become the first Gold Award-winning P4C school in Merseyside has been one in which staff have also changed the way we think and teach, and it involved a lot of carefully planned CPD. Early scepticism When in 2017 David Harrop – one of our then assistant headteachers – announced he was introducing P4C to Middlefield, my heart sank. Timetables were already congested and this was something else we were going to have to fit in. But as teachers we get on with things and give it our best. I’m glad we did. The school signed up for a training and support programme from the P4C charity SAPERE, delivered by Julie McCann of School Improvement Liverpool. Our first two-day inset consisted of SAPERE’s Level 1 foundation training with lots of hands-on activities, including the chance to participate in similar P4C sessions, or enquiries, that we’d be facilitating. That helped me get to grips with what it would be like for the children to take part in an enquiry, and helped me to think about the kinds of thinking skills – critical, creative, collaborative and caring thinking – that we were setting out to develop. I admit, though, I was nervous. What would happen in an actual enquiry in the classroom? How would the children respond? Teacher to facilitator We started teaching P4C for up to one hour a week, from Nursery to Year 6. One of the programme’s challenges is that you don’t teach it in a conventional sense. You’re more of a facilitator, helping to guide the discussion – like Fiona Bruce on Question Time. This was out of my comfort zone. I had to adapt my teaching style, to ‘let go’ a little. But as my confidence grew, I began to enjoy it. Dialogues in my classroom included ‘can you have bravery without fear?’, ‘nature vs nurture’, and ‘is it right for humans to interfere with life?’. We explored big concepts such as friendship, fear, justice, and gender. But it was not just about what we discussed, but how we discussed it. As a group, we agreed our ground rules. Everyone had to show respect, take turns to contribute and listen, and share ideas. Julie became a regular visitor to Middlefield. Working with her, in the classroom and in regular inset sessions, our confidence grew. She gave us ideas for enquiries and suggestions about how to incorporate P4C into the curriculum. We picked up techniques to develop