Quality and Validation

The Philosophy Foundation maintains high standards with our specialists in schools by regular observation and on-going continued professional development. Our training pathway sets out benchmarks that must be reached in order to progress in the classroom with us, and has been developed to ensure good practice.

Our work is supported and recognised by both the British Philosophical Association and the Royal Institute of Philosophy, and our co-CEO’s Emma Worley and Peter Worley have been made Visiting Research Associates at King’s College London due to the research and outreach we have undertaken with them over the past 5 years.

“The Philosophy Foundation’s experience in this work, accumulated over a number of years has made it the leading body in this field. The Foundation has the respect and admiration both of schoolteachers and of higher education professionals, and there is no question but that its work deserves the fullest backing. It is doing something that almost alone among supports for teaching and learning in schools is guaranteed to make a very large positive difference to educational outcomes.”

Professor A.C. Grayling

Research Study


Teaching Critical Thinking and Metacognitive Skills Through Philosophical Enquiry.

In 2017 The Philosophy Foundation and King's College London carried out a small-scale study into teaching critical thinking skills in primary school philosophy classes with children aged 8-10. The study compared The Philosophy Foundation's community of philosophical enquiry (PhiE) approach against a new addition of the explicit teaching of critical thinking and metacognitive (learning-to-learn) skills within the enquiry itself. Although there were limitations to the first year the results were positive and it was used to inform developments in a follow-up study of Autumn 2018. The data (qualitative and quantitative) was analysed in the Spring and Summer terms and showed that this new addition to our pedagogy would improve results for children.

This study has transformed TPF's practice by resulting in a method which supports both metacognition and critical thinking skills in a way that is mutually integral, fits into our already impactful pedagogy, and brings further benefits to students (there was a 63% increase in successful use of critical thinking and metacognitive skills in the intervention group, more than double the control group which also improved their critical thinking and metacognitive skills by 26%). You can read about the research in a paper by Emma Worley and Peter Worley published in Childhood and Philosophy (vol 15. 2019).

Although this study also had limitations, the results were strong enough for TPF to use it to inform our pedagogy. TPF Facilitators are finding ways of teaching these skills with younger and older classes within philosophy sessions. Please contact us for more on this work.

IOE Research

The Institute of Education carried out research into our work from September 2012-December 2013. Participating classes were compared with control classes that were very similar in terms of the number of children with SEND and EAL and those on free school meals. The most significant findings were as follows.

  • A term of philosophy improves the reading ability of children on Free School Meals and girls. The reading tests used primarily assesses understanding, but also inhibitory control and the ability to distinguish relevance.
  • All 8 headteachers would highly recommend The Philosophy Foundation to others. All re-booked TPF for the following year.
  • Teachers consistently reported improved verbal reasoning and higher-order thinking, as well as better speaking and listening skills, confidence, concentration and behaviour.
  • Teachers also said pupils showed greater respect, empathy and tolerance of the opinions of others.
  • Boys (86%) enjoyed the philosophy sessions, girls (81%).
  • 83% of the children who had philosophy (250 took part in the research) wanted more of it - both in written feedback and focus groups.
  • 60% of parents questioned said they felt their child had become more articulate and able to put across their point of view more clearly.

“The Philosophy Foundation teachers are all dedicated professionals; they worked beyond their contracted hours, were all highly reflective and thought carefully about their practice.” 

Dr Jon Swain, Qualitative Researcher, IOE


Other Relevant Research

An ongoing longitudinal study into philosophy for children in Spain (Garcia Moriyon et al) has found not only increases in IQ but also a reduction in psychotic tendencies in those young people participating. This impact on mental health as well as intelligence is an important foundation for future success both personally and within society.

Worldwide research into P4C has been gathered on the IAPC website.

“Philosophy helps me think outside the box, about the issues that are really important in life; philosophy has really inspired me and will help me go to university.”