Philosophy at Key Stage 3 and 4

For older students grappling with the transition from childhood into their teenage years, we engage participants with challenging political, moral and social issues that are unavoidably relevant to their lives and futures. Philosophical enquiry is especially well-suited to ‘stretching and challenging’ all students, through expertly guided exploration of topics such as:

  • new biomedical science and technology;
  • climate change and sustainability;
  • mental health, deviance and morality;
  • communities, rules and laws;
  • evolution and religion;
  • terrorism and security;
  • freedoms and their erosion in the surveillance society;
  • fundamentalisms (how science, knowledge, culture and religious commitment interact).

By creating a safe space in which to address difficult topics, we enable students to develop their critical thinking skills whilst building the emotional resilience. Students tackle the foundational concepts that underpin these topics – rights, morality, responsibility, knowledge, the role and limits of of science and technology. Reasoned argument and critical but caring engagement build team-working and participation. Structured research, group and individual work reinforce creative, responsible, and reflective learning.

These activities can make a big contribution to PHSE, the development of critical thinking, work in response to the Prevent agenda, and generally to the effective development of learning and thinking capabilities.

Philosophy at Key Stage 5

Philosophical enquiry at Key Stage 5 offers many opportunities to develop pupils as global citizens who have the critical capacities to engage independently with their studies and futures with open-minded understanding. In addition to the overarching developmental benefits of philosophy that apply to the younger age groups, philosophy has particular application for students who are now young adults; undertaking sixth form study, perhaps considering university applications, and addressing the many opportunities and challenges of life beyond school or college.

A-level

We offer targeted Study Days for students working on topics for Philosophy or Religious Studies AS/A2.

Extended Project Qualification

Myfanwy Williams and John Foster have worked through Lancaster University to develop an alternative to the current Philosophy A-level using the Extended Project Qualification, and are happy to adapt this work to the needs of individual schools. Find out more about Engaging with Philosophy including sample materials.

Key skills

Philosophy-based work at this level powerfully develops critical thinking and other skills for socially responsible citizenship. The open-ended and reflective enquiry that characterises philosophy provides excellent preparation for independent study and university life; and of course, it equips all students – irrespective of their future paths – with the tools to navigate life’s most challenging questions and decisions. Philosophy helps students to deal with potentially difficult decisions about how they should live their lives.