Chess ‘should be part of the curriculum’
As the Yes2Chess grand final takes place in Hyde Park, MPs in an all-party group call for chess to be made a part of the national curriculum

By Josie Gurney-Read, Online Education Editor
7:30AM BST 08 Jul 2014

Chess should be included in the national curriculum, according to MPs in an all-party group, as studies suggest that teaching children at a young age could be an aid to concentration, logical thinking, numeracy and social interaction.

Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South-East, said that while chess has been traditionally associated with private schools, it should be embraced in all state primary schools as part of the curriculum and should also be categorised as a sport, to allow access to funding.

Speaking in Westminster, at the Yes2Chess parliamentary reception yesterday, Ms Qureshi highlighted the benefits of chess for children saying: “The skills involved in playing chess are actually skills that a lot of young people can benefit from learning, especially children who have problems with attention and hyperactivity.”

“The group is hoping to raise awareness of chess as a great learning tool, but we are also working closely with Chess in Schools and Communities to get chess into all schools – but primary schools especially.”

Yes2Chess, a new Internet chess community for primary schoolchildren, offers pupils the opportunity to play chess online.

This year – the first year of the partnership between Barclaycard and UK charity, Chess in Schools and Communities – saw eight countries take part, with 22,000 participants from over 400 schools.

Following months of online tournaments, and the reception yesterday, the final 40 participants of the challenge will compete in a grand final in Hyde Park today.

Malcolm Pein, the Telegraph’s chess columnist and chief executive of Chess in Schools and Communities, says that, while it doesn’t need to be made a compulsory part of the curriculum, chess should be accessible to every child.

“All children should have the opportunity to play chess for one hour a week at primary school. Chess can improve concentration, numeracy and ability in problem solving, but it also helps social development.

“Children have to take turns; they learn how to lose as well as how to win; and we make sure every game starts and ends with a handshake.”

In April, Hank Roberts, former president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, called for all pupils to be given compulsory lessons in chess for at least one term, as current figures suggest that fewer than one-in-10 pupils in state schools get access to chess at school.

David Chan, CEO of Barclaycard Europe, says that participation in the joint initiative has far exceeded the initial aims of the partnership for its first year and the company have “ambitious” targets for the future.

“We are hoping to expand the number of countries we have reached next year. This is not just about making funds available but also about making available our time to help the programme. Chess is a great way for children to develop the life skills needed to make them employable in the future.”

Last year, the Government-funded Education Endowment Foundation announced the award of a £689,000 grant to help spread the game in state primary schools in Liverpool, Bristol and Manchester.

The scheme – delivered by Chess in Schools and Communities – targeted 10-year-olds in 100 schools, giving pupils the opportunity to spend an hour a week on chess over 30 weeks, to test the impact that it had on their performance across academic disciplines.


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