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Talk and Philosophy for Children

The Talk Project
At Willow Tree, we believe that communication is essential for learning. It is also the foundation of positive relationships. Sometimes in today’s fast-paced world, children have limited opportunities to develop things like vocabulary, listening skills, being audible, and having the confidence to respectfully challenge their peers. So, we have decided to prioritise pupil talk.
We have a whole-school Talk Promise, Pupil Talk Prompts, and Teacher Talk Moves. We regularly play Talk Games. Five of our teachers have formed a Talk Team to lead this.
The Willow Tree Talk Promise
Our Talk Promise was developed by our staff, with pupil involvement. It is designed to be friendly for all children from Nursery to Year 6:
• We will talk clearly so that others can hear and understand us.
• We will take turns and wait for others to finish before we talk.
• We will think about what we are going to say and use Talk Prompts to help us.
• We will ask questions to help us understand.
• We will look at and listen to the person who is talking.
• We will respect what others have to say.
• We will think about what has been said (and how to develop this).
• We will try our best to join in.
The chance to talk with lots of different children
In lessons we make sure children have the opportunity to talk with many of their peers, not just the same partner all the time. This makes things much more interesting and helps everyone share lots of ideas.
Philosophy for Children
We use Philosophy for Children (P4C) across the school. P4C is an active learning technique which gives children an opportunity to discuss big ideas in a safe and structured way. Promoting high quality talk, critical thinking and reasoning, P4C is a participatory methodology which gives children a voice.
All our staff from Year 1 to Year 6 have their Level 1 P4C qualification. (The Early Years team will be completing theirs in school year 2019-20.)
Here are some questions our pupils came up with in philosophy sessions:
Year 1 pupils are provided with a stimulus followed by a question. For example:
• ‘Imagine that you are walking along a path, suddenly a chest appears in front of you. Would you look inside the chest?’

Other year groups generate their own questions:
• “What makes love special?” (Year 2)
• “Are zoos a good thing or a bad thing?” (Year 3)
• "Is it ever ok to treat people differently because of the way they look?" (Year 4)
• “Who decides who are our friends? “ (Year 5)
• “Would the planet be a better place without humans?” (Year 6)
Pupil Voice
Here’s what some Willow Tree pupils have said about Talk and P4C:
• “If you say your idea out loud you can remember it and write it down later if you need it.” - Year 3 pupil
• “I like P4C. I like that it gets me going. It makes me think and it gets my brain switched on.” - Year 4 pupil
• “I like P4C because it gives you the chance to express what you feel and listen to how others feel too.” - Year 6 pupil

We have developed our Talk Project with local trainer Topsy Page. If you would like more information or ideas about how you can support your child please visit her website - www.topsypage.com