FREEDOM of speech and the right to offend might be up for debate in some places, but not at Headington School.

On Friday girls welcomed Professor A.C. Grayling, philosopher and master of New College of the Humanities, to the latest session of the school's philosophy cafe.

The regular events allow pupils to listen to and quiz a range of influential thinkers and explore sometimes-contentious issues.

Philosophy and religious studies teacher Simon Drew set the sessions up two-and-a-half years ago and has been pleased with the level of interest both pupils and philosophers have shown in attending.

He said: "Philosophy is not a subject that most of our girls choose and the philosophy cafe is designed to make it accessible to those who do not necessarily study it.

"The main benefit is that the girls are exposed to a wide range of ideas, perhaps ideas they might never have come across before.

"It can broaden their horizons and can help them look at problems in different ways."

Professor Grayling spoke to pupils about the idea that we now live in a 'post-truth' world and the importance of critical thinkers being on their guard.

Mr Drew said: "If you can equip students with critical thinking skills, expose them to a wide range of ideas and get them engaging in those ideas in a critical way that is incredibly useful.

"There is so much information around at the moment that it is good that students are encouraged to think for themselves."

Other recent speakers include Australian moral philosopher Professor Peter Singer and Professor Angie Hobbs from the University of Sheffield.

The sessions are designed as informal chats rather than lectures to allow the girls to engage in a relaxed way with the philosophers who visit.

Pupil Bryony Fyffe, 17, said: "I found Grayling's idea of living in a post-truth political era where appealing to the emotions is more effective than providing objective facts really thought-provoking, particularly when applied to the recent political events we have seen both here in the UK and around the world."

Niamh McCormack, 18, added: "You rarely get the chance to see things come to life outside of the classroom, so to be able to meet a renowned philosopher that we study as part of our course was a phenomenal experience.

"Professor Grayling's talk was truly thought provoking, and he opened my eyes to arguments I hadn't considered before."

The philosophy cafe's next visitor will be Professor Simon Blackburn from Cambridge University.