Checkmate!

Blog
20 March 2018 by ATL
James Corrigan, from Chess in Schools and Communities, tells us why chess should be played in every school.

Why does chess belong in a school? Imagine a pleasant scene during morning break, two children are bent over a chess board. Furrowed brows concentrating, calculating and searching for that winning move that will let them cry “Checkmate!” and claim victory. Their opponent defeated and glowering but already plotting their comeback. They shake hands and both demand a rematch.

Chess belongs in schools because in that small instance, the two pupils have started to learn more skills than they realise. However old the pupils are they can learn something from chess. Reception age children can learn how to take turns in a game, practise maths by counting the number of pieces they have captured and try to solve simple puzzles. Year 6s pupils can stretch their talents and hone their critical thinking and problem-solving thought processes.

It is Chess in Schools and Communities’ (CSC) mission to maximise those skills that can be acquired through chess.  Improving children’s educational outcomes and social development by introducing them to this wonderful game and educational tool. Chess fosters intellectual character, promotes problem solving, critical thinking, concentration and logic. Despite its cerebral reputation, chess is an easy game to learn and we have shown that any child can learn to play and benefit from chess no matter what their academic level.

97% of teachers asked agreed that chess improved a child’s thinking skills.

 

It is our ultimate aim to get chess in every state school in the country (almost every private school pupil has the opportunity to learn); to make chess and its benefits accessible to every primary age child regardless of their background or personal circumstance. CSC was established with this target in mind in 2009 and we have expanded our reach fast since. We now have chess tutors teaching chess within the curriculum in over 300 schools across the country, there they also run chess clubs during lunch, or after school. We also support another 500 with chess equipment and teaching materials. Throughout the year and across the country we offer chess tutor training days to teaching assistants and teachers in state schools and a ready-to-use 30-week curriculum with lesson plans, handouts and workbooks. We have an annual reach to 47,500 schoolchildren which is growing every year. As a charity we supply the above for free, and the chess tutors at a subsidised cost.

Feedback from teachers and head teachers has been excellent with a 2016 poll finding that 97% of the 89 teachers asked agreed that chess improved a child’s thinking skills.

There are countless public figures who credit chess with helping their success, like Demis Hassabis who founded the world leading Artificial Intelligence company DeepMind.

 

CSC welcomes the recent motion passed at the last Association for Teachers and Lecturers Annual Conference (Motion No.39) we echo the call articulated in conference;

“For the government to recognise the potential of the game of chess to aid children’s intellectual development and improve socialisation by seeking to give every child the opportunity to learn how to play at school.”

There are countless public figures who credit chess with helping their success, like Demis Hassabis who founded the world leading Artificial Intelligence company DeepMind. Even buying his first computer from the winnings of chess tournament when he was 8 years old, he has extolled the virtues of chess and how the analytical skills he learned when playing chess can be transposed life skills too.

Legislatures in Spain and Armenia have made chess obligatory at primary level and have noticed the improving maths test results that come about because of it.

 

It is a little ironic that the government has refused to accept chess as mindsport and ignore its educational potential, given that so many prominent Parliamentarians play game. Both of the Eagle Sisters (Maria and Angela) represented England when they were younger and Rachel Reeves MP was England Girls Under 14 Chess Champion. They believe playing and succeeding in chess taught them a valuable life lesson; that they could play just as well as the boys (if not better) in what was a male-dominated game. Former Director of Waitrose (Lord Price) has credited playing chess at a young age with equipping him with the skills of planning, anticipation and thoughtful decision making that were key to succeed in the business world.

Hopefully the government will realise the potential of this cheap and highly accessible teaching tool from our neighbours. Legislatures in Spain and Armenia have made chess obligatory at primary level and have noticed the improving maths test results that come about because of it.

 

 

The good news is that schools and teachers see the wonders chess does for pupils themselves. They contact us off their own backs and we work with them to make sure that their school does not go without a chess club or chess lessons. If you think that becoming a chess tutor is right for you or think your pupils would benefit from one, we would welcome you to get in touch.

Please do contact CSC on 020 7935 3445 for any queries or fill in our join us form online.