A rare expedition out of the Teesside area enabled me to run an introductory Chessday at Broadway Junior School in Sunderland. The children were impressively enthusiastic as they learned about the very basics of chess.
Our link to the school was provided by Mrs Hastie, formerly one of my top chess people on Teesside, with whom I worked alongside at Brambles Primary Academy for several years. Mrs Hastie joined Broadway Junior School towards the end of the previous school year and decided to take chess with her! This act of spreading the word of chess - when a key member of staff has left one of our schools and called in the CSC almost immediately - happened at two other schools this year on Teesside and one more well follow before the year is out. Thank you for a great day, Broadway! I am planning a return trip in the New Year.
''I love chess because I love to win! Some of the chess tricks are called skewer, pin and fork. The chess pieces are called pawns, rooks, knights, queen and king.''
''I really like chess because it is really, really fun! I like going in tournaments and getting medals and also like getting lots of trophies. I'm very competitive and like winning a lot. My favourite piece on the board is a rook.''
''I like chess because it is so good and intense. If we are the same strength it gets harder and harder. I like to go to tournaments. I like chess as much as anything. I enjoy doing forks, skewers and pins so I can trap people or pieces, win the game and rule at chess! Chess! It's fun!''
Krishaan (8) ''I love chess because I like to play games. I like to fork and pin a player with the king, queen and rook.''
Zak (8) ''I love chess because it is so much fun. I learned so much! I know forks, skewers and pins, so Mr Marsh please give me more chess - not too hard because I'm not too good - but give me more chess because I love my chess!''
Back in 2012, Chess in Schools and Communities started a shared project with The Education Endowment Fund (''EEF'') to assess the impact of our weekly chess curriculum sessions on academic attainment.
We worked with a significant number of Year 5 classes with the aim of assessing their results at the end of their time as Year 6s. A similar number of schools acted as control groups (without weekly chess sessions).
In the words of the EEF:
''The majority of studies that link chess to academic attainment have been carried out abroad and included self-selecting intervention groups. However a randomised controlled trial was carried out in Italy and this showed that chess had an impact on maths attainment. The study funded by the EEF will build on existing evidence with a more rigorous evaluation. If effective, chess is a cheap approach which could be taken up by many schools.''
If the study into the impact of chess on school attainment returns a positive result, it should lead to the opening of many doors. Would schools really decline the opportunity to add chess to their curriculum if it proved to be an effective way of increasing pupils' results?