Taking part in our research

Evaluation of the Philosophy For Children (P4C) Programme

Project code: EEPS


Why are you doing this research?

P4C is a pedagogy – a way of teaching and learning that seeks to develop skills in independent thinking, reasoning, good judgment, communication and collaboration. P4C aims to develop intellectual dispositions, such as curiosity and clarity of expression, as well as emotional intelligence. This takes place within what is called a Community of Enquiry, that is to say, a safe learning environment which values the importance of caring and collaborative thinking. Headteachers usually introduce P4C for these benefits because they recognise that P4C is about children’s lifelong learning. Please see P4C website for further information: http://www.sapere.org.uk/. EEF has commissioned NFER to ascertain the benefit of the programme on Pupil’s attainment in maths and reading.

Who is carrying out this research?

The evaluation is being carried out by a team from NFER, who are also recruiting schools for the study. It is funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).


What is NFER’s role in the study?

NFER are evaluating the project. They will randomly allocate schools to the intervention or control group. NFER will collect pupil data from all schools for those pupils in year 4. NFER will also administer the pupil social skills questionnaire to pupils in year 4 at the beginning of the spring term 2017 and again in the sprint term of 2019 to the same pupils. NFER will use the data from the tests to evaluate the intervention and will disseminate the headline findings of the intervention. NFER are also helping to recruit schools to the study.

What is the Education Endowment Foundation’s role in the project?

EEF are funding the project and will help to disseminate the findings.

What does the school need to do as part of the project

All schools will be asked to provide pupil data (name, DOB and UPN number) for all pupils in year 4 and take a short social skills questionnaire

What the school does depends on whether it is allocated to the intervention or control group.

Intervention schools must commit to:

Control group schools will:


When does the study start?

Schools will be asked to provide pupil data from November 2016 and schools will be sent the social skills questionnaire from January 2017. Schools will be randomly allocated to the intervention and control groups from February 2017.

When does the study end?

The study will end in July 2019, when the participating students have reached the end of Year 6.

When will we know if we have been allocated to the control or intervention group?

Randomised allocation to intervention and control groups will take place in January 2017. Schools will be informed soon after.

Data collection

Which pupil questionnaire will you be using?

We will be using a social skills questionnaire designed by Durham university and customised for this trial by staff as NFER. The survey is designed for primary school pupils.

What data will be collected?

Background data about students will be collected through the National Pupil Database. To enable us to undertake the analysis we will require Year 4 pupil names, date of births and UPNs. NFER will contact participating schools to collect this information in November 2016.

How will you handle data?

The pupil information you provide, including questionnaire responses, will be linked with the National Pupil Database (held by the Department for Education) and other official records. Named data will be shared with SAPERE, the Department for Education, Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), EEF’s data contractor FFT Education and stored anonymously on the UK Data Archive. Please note that no individual schools or pupils will be identified in any reports arising from the research.

When will the report be available?

The report will be available in 2020.

Where will the report be published?

The report will be published on the EEF website and disseminated by EEF and NFER.

Do you need to visit the school?

NFER test administrators will visit the school in Spring 2019 to carry out the second pupil social skills questionnaire.

Do the research team have current Disclosure and Barring Service checks?

All members of the research team who may visit schools have current DBS checks.

Who needs to give consent for participation in this study?

The Headteacher gives consent to take part in the trial on behalf of the school. In addition, parents/carers and students themselves will be fully informed of the data we will be and may choose to withdraw their data from the study. They can do this by returning an opt-out consent form which we will send to schools for circulation to parents/carers. Students can withdraw their data from the study at any time up until the end of the intervention. Although we would encourage them to take part, teachers may also withdraw their data from the study and choose not to participate in research activities.

Research methods

What is a randomised controlled trial (RCT)?

A randomised controlled trial is a type of study in which the people being studied are allocated randomly either to receive an intervention or to be in a control group that does not receive the intervention, so that any effect of the intervention can be assessed by comparing outcomes for the two groups. Can I choose whether I am in the intervention or control group? No. In a randomised controlled trial, participants are allocated at random to the intervention or control group.


What are the incentives for participation?

Intervention schools will receive the P4C Going for Gold programme at a reduced cost of £1,600 per annum. This represents a discount of more than half on the normal cost of the programme. Where schools are allocated to the control group, they will receive a financial incentive in September 2019, equivalent to the subsidy given to the intervention schools for taking part in the trial. This can either be used to invest in introducing P4C to the school or used in other ways.

All schools will receive the results from the social skills questionnaire taken by pupils and will also be sent the results of the evaluation when the report is published in 2020

The school

Who from the school will need to be involved?

Students in Year 4 (2016-17) will participate in the study, along with their teachers. Up to 25 teachers will need to attend training in the P4C programme if the school is in the intervention group. The Headteacher must give consent for the school to participate and senior leadership team support will be needed throughout the study.

Are pupils allowed to withdraw from the research?

Pupils are allowed to withdraw from the pupil questionnaire and the data collection at any time. If a school is in the intervention sample then withdrawing from the P4C programme is at the discretion of the school.

How can we get involved in the study?

You can get involved by completing and returning the reply form and memorandum of understanding contained in your school’s approach letter. Alternatively you can contact us on 01753 637096 or by email (p4c@nfer.ac.uk) if you have any queries.