Chess ‘raises levels of sportsmanship in seven-year-olds’
The charity Chess in Schools and Communities calls for compulsory lessons for all under-11s because the game teaches young pupils to “cope with winning and losing”
By Graeme Paton, Education Editor
6:00AM GMT 05 Dec 2014
All primary school children should be given an hour of chess each week after research found that lessons improved pupils’ concentration, boosted thinking skills and raised levels of sportsmanship.
Experts called for children as young as seven to receive tuition in the game for at least a year because it could have a major impact on pupils’ academic ability and “soft skills”.
Research commissioned by the charity Chess in Schools and Communities found that two-thirds of teachers believed children’s performance in the classroom – particularly in maths – had improved after being taught to play the game.
The study also suggested a link between chess and pupils’ thinking or cognitive skills, problem-solving ability, concentration levels and the “ability to cope with winning and losing”.
But the research, which was published to coincide with the London Chess Classic this weekend, suggested that many state schools struggled to provide chess as part of the normal timetable, often due to the demands of other subjects and behaviour problems.
It follows the publication of separate figures showing that fewer than one-in-10 state-educated pupils currently get access to chess, placing them at a disadvantage compared with privately-educated peers.
Malcolm Pein, the charity’s chief executive and the Telegraph’s chess correspondent, said greater access to chess lessons could have a major impact, particularly on girls and children in inner-city areas who traditionally miss out on the game.
“Our survey demonstrates the impact chess can have in the classroom in improving academic attainment,” he said.
“Chess also engenders many softer skills such as good sportsmanship and builds self-esteem while encouraging children to plan ahead and take responsibility for their actions.
“Chess is a low-cost high impact intervention and the game crosses all social, cultural and language barriers making it ideal for inner-city schools.