Philosophy class boosts maths

Encouraging primary school children to have philosophical discussions in the classroom can boost their reading, writing and arithmetic, new research has found.

Children as young as nine who have taken part in sessions on subjects like truth, fairness and knowledge, can improve their progress in maths and English.

The study did not explain why philosophical discussions appeared to boost children's reading, writing and maths, the Education Endowment Foundation said.

Prof Gorard's opinion, having spoken to teachers and children, was the children grew more confident after having some input into their learning, and enjoyed school more.

While his study took a neutral stance in evaluating the lessons, he came to approve of the sessions.

"I like the idea of getting them to marshal their arguments in a coherent way and to have respect for and listen to people who may have opposing views," he said.

The study looked at 48 schools and 3,159 pupils and compared results of pupils who took the sessions with children from classes which have not yet included them in their lessons.

Dr Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), said: "Philosophy for Children is a long-established and well-respected programme.

"It's absolutely brilliant that today's results give us evidence of its positive impact on primary pupils' maths and reading results.

"Given its low cost, teachers should use these results to seriously consider whether philosophy sessions and promoting philosophical thinking could work in their classroom."

The study was being published by the EEF which funded the university research.