UNESCO global network focused on philosophy for children welcomes University of Winchester as partner

17 May 2021

The University of Winchester has become part of a unique global UNESCO network which encourages children to think more deeply by engaging with philosophy in the classroom.

As a partner in the UNESCO Chair on the Practice of Philosophy with Children, based at the Université de Nantes in France, experts in education at the University of Winchester now have an opportunity to collaborate with other leaders in this field of teaching around the world.

Recent global events - including the current coronavirus pandemic - have alerted governments to the need to educate future citizens from early childhood in critical thinking, humanistic values, gender equality and the need for peaceful and respectful dialogue between cultures. The UNESCO Chair on the Practice of Philosophy with Children works to develop such citizen practices through research, teaching and training.

In the United Kingdom, Philosophy for Children (P4C) is promoted by the charity SAPERE (the Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education), with the aim to encourage children and young people to become more willing and able to question, reason, think critically and collaborate. Dialogue is based around concepts such as 'truth', 'fairness' or 'bullying'. The University works in partnership with SAPERE and is one of its registered partner universities.

P4C has been part of the University of Winchester's Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes for the past eight years. Student teachers learn about P4C during their training and undergraduate Primary Education students gain an Introduction to P4C certificate from SAPERE. Student teachers also have an opportunity to gain the SAPERE Level 1 Teacher Facilitator certification. Student teachers on the University's PGCE Secondary Religious Education course gain their Level 1 accreditation as part of their taught programme.

Dr Rhiannon Love, a senior lecturer in the University's Institute of Education, said: "Here at the University of Winchester, we have a real commitment to Philosophy for Children, as it aligns with our commitment to Rights Respecting Education, as well as our University values of Compassion, Individuals Matter and Spirituality."

Emma Goto, senior lecturer in Education, said: "Philosophy for Children is an approach to education that seeks to develop critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinking and affective skills such as open-mindedness and empathy in young people. We hope that being involved in the UNESCO Chair network will allow us to take part in new and exciting collaborations with other researchers, teachers and institutions through research, teaching and training to further develop use of this pedagogical approach in the future."

Dr Edwige Chirouter, head of the UNESCO Chair on the Practice of Philosophy with Children and a lecturer at the Université de Nantes, said: "I am very proud that the University of Winchester is now part of our network and I look forward to working with the University more directly when the pandemic has passed."

The University of Winchester is rated as an 'Outstanding' provider of teacher training in England by education inspectorate OFSTED for its provision of both primary and secondary ITE, making it one of the best providers of teacher education in the country.

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