The Lyceum Project


In 2007 a UN survey investigated the wellbeing of children in 21 of the most economically advanced countries in the world. Startlingly, the UK ranked last, with “Educational Wellbeing”, “Family Relationships” and “Subjective Wellbeing”, identified among the weaker dimensions. This became an issue of acute concern to those in the educational sector and those in the cultural sector who, in recent years, have been responsible for developing a wealth of educational programmes to engage with young children and their families.

In 2010, Personal, Social, Health and Economics (PSHE) became part of the national curriculum however, in 2011 a survey funded by the Department for Education highlighted a need for substantial development in PSHE’s delivery method and resources.

The project

By solely focusing on the cultivation of analytical or critical thinking in teaching are we failing to enhance the subjective wellbeing of pupils?

The Lyceum Project is an original programme of philosophical research on teaching and learning managed by the Department of Philosophy.

The project incorporated:

  • Patterns of Thought - provoking aesthetic reflection in gallery settings, piloted in a series of workshops run in collaboration with cultural institutions in the city.
  • Philosophy for Personal Development - developing methodology and resources as well as delivering teaching sessions for PSHE in UK schools, piloted with students at Liverpool College, years 7-9 (ages 11-14).
  • links to the EU-funded Open Discovery Space Project, a socially powered, multilingual open learning infrastructure that enables 4,000 European schools to share ideas, resources and knowledge.

Collaboration with New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), a consultancy think-tank responsible for developing the Wellbeing Measure Tool enabled researchers to analyse and evaluate the subjective wellbeing of pupils taking a three-week Philosophy and PSHE course informed by the methodology developed at the University.

Dr A. Abu-Dayyeh, a member of the UNESCO Committee for teaching Philosophy to children in four continents, has identified the Lyceum Project’s contribution to UNESCO’s aims as ‘empower[ing] young people to integrate in multicultural societies’.



Surveys demonstrated that the project led to significantly increased levels of self-esteem and self-confidence amongst pupils with feedback confirming that pupils either agreed or strongly agreed that; (a) they found the lessons interesting and (b) that they wanted to receive similar lessons in the future.

Liverpool College established the Philosophy and PSHE lessons as an annual programme, and introduced Arete, a unique programme replacing Religious Studies as a direct result of teachers’ exposure to the Lyceum Project pedagogy.

Cultural Institutions

Following the inclusion of the Philosophy and Art workshops in Liverpool’s Biennial official programme of events (2012), a number of new partners became actively involved with the developing methodology.

The project has led to further collaborations with Liverpool Biennial and to the production of new tailor-made workshops for other local partners including: The Bluecoat, National Museums Liverpool, FACT, and METAL.

Testimonials all attest to an increase in objective wellbeing via the enrichment of young persons’ educational opportunities for self-reflection, dialogue and cultural engagement ensuring that the changes in subjective wellbeing will be long-lasting and sustainable.


The Lyceum Project is led by Dr Panayiota Vassilopoulou.