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Talk & Philosophy for Children

"If we improve the quality of classroom talk, we improve the quality of learning "

Neil Mercer

At Willow Tree Primary School, we want all children and adults to be confident, effective communicators. Our aim is to develop a culture of high quality dialogue and reasoning across the curriculum. In order to do this, we equip all children with the skills to participate in discussions and debate in a variety of contexts. We model and encourage our children to listen to the views, opinions and ideas of others respectfully and curiously. We want children to articulate their ideas and thoughts clearly, with appropriate tone and vocabulary recognising various audiences. All children should be able to respond to questions and opinions and ask thoughtful questions. Our aim is to foster an interest in words and their meanings, to support the development of a growing vocabulary, listen carefully in discussion, making contributions and asking questions. We believe that high quality talk and feedback is central to this.

We actively promote speaking and listening across school through the use of the Pupil Talk Promise. Pupils are taught the promise from early years right through to Y6. Building on the promise pupils are taught to use the talk prompts and are provided with opportunities to practise using them across the curriculum. There is half hour planned, dedicated talk time as part of the weekly timetable in all year groups where pupils are given the opportunity to practise using the talk prompts with an expectation that prompts learnt should be used within the rest of the curriculum. 

We use teacher Talk Moves to promote discussion. We want children to:

  • Share, expand and clarify their own individual thinking
  • Listen carefully to one another
  • Deepen their reasoning
  • Think with others

We use Philosophy for Children (P4C) to develop thinking across the curriculum. We want children to form communities of enquiry that are rooted in the 4C's of P4C: Creative, Caring, Collaborative and Critical Thinking. Children will have the opportunity to engage with various stimuli in all curriculum areas and challenge themselves to think beyond the stimulus.

Within the curriculum clear talk opportunities are planned into lessons in all subjects with specific P4C sessions built into some curriculum topics. Within lessons children are given opportunities to have thinking time independently with the use of ideas books to help them to organise their thought. They have talking partner time to begin to have their ideas challenged or confirmed which leads to whole class discussions. 

Within writing sessions children have the opportunity to take part in debates and read work they have composed with varying tone and intonation to children younger.

We will know high quality talk and feedback is impacting positively on learning when:

  • Our children are confident articulating their thoughts, feelings and ideas and are able to disagree with others respectfully
  • They are resilient and can take challenges to their thinking as another way to learn
  • We ask our pupils to self-assess using Communicating the Curriculum from ‘The Curriculum Trust’
  • We reflect on the impact of talk and feedback in professional staff dialogue and through lesson study
  • We ask our pupils through pupil voice every half term across a variety of subjects as well as specifically talk.