Its advocates have long claimed that chess can play a big part in improving pupils’ mathematical and concentration skills. And in some countries – such as France and Hungary – it is given official encouragement on the curriculum. But until now, its learning powers have never been properly tested in English schools.
Today, the Education Endowment Foundation – a charity dedicated to finding the most effective ways to improve the performance of the poorest pupils and their classmates – is awarding a £689,000 grant to the organisation Chess in Schools and Communities to test the impact of structured chess instruction in primary schools. 6,000 ten year-olds in 100 primary schools in Liverpool, Bristol and Manchester will take part.
The EEF is also supporting seven other new programmes today. Among them is Lesson Study, a Japanese programme of collaborative lesson planning and classroom observation that is already widely used overseas. The programme emphasises the importance of teachers working together to help refine lessons so that they have a strong impact on low-attaining pupils. The EEF is contributing £545,000 towards the £1 million funding of a trial in seven UK areas including Manchester, Merseyside, Devon and Cambridgeshire.
A randomised control trial of chess teaching will compare the progress of pupils who take up chess with that of similar pupils who have not taken up the game. Pupils will spend an hour a week on chess over 30 weeks, learning how to play the game and developing thinking and problem-solving skills through chess. Chess clubs will also be established in the schools.
Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation and of the Sutton Trust, said today: “I played chess at school and competed in the under-11 national championships. I believe that through chess I developed important thinking skills. This trial will test the extent to which a structured approach to teaching chess in schools could improve pupils’ attainment in mathematics and other subjects.”
Malcolm Pein, Chief Executive of Chess in Schools and Communities, added: “Chess has been making a comeback in state schools in recent years, having become a preserve of independent schools in the 1980s. Fewer than one in ten state school pupils get the chance to play chess today. We hope that this trial will provide evidence of its impact, particularly on the poorest pupils, to convince many more heads to adopt chess in schools.”
Kevan Collins, Chief Executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “Together, these eight projects will increase our knowledge of how to help the children in our schools who need it most. Lesson study is a hugely promising model of professional collaboration and, if proven to be effective, could be a method of embedding research informed teaching throughout the country.”
A total of £4.3m in funding is being spent on the eight projects. The new projects will work with over 30,000 pupils in 380 schools.
The other projects will:
- Work with the Communications Trust to test a whole school approach to improving the speech, language and communication skills of disadvantaged pupils.
- Work with the Curriculum Centre to test the impact of a knowledge-rich curriculum on eight and nine year olds’ vocabulary and reading skills.
- Test the impact of a programme designed to improve pupils’ understanding of scientific concepts and reasoning, with the Let’s Think Forum.
- Examine the impact of one to one coaching on academic attainment of at risk 14 – 16 year-olds, through the Think Forward programme developed by the Private Equity Foundation.
- Work with the University of Oxford to test programmes designed to develop younger primary children’s understanding of mathematical reasoning and spelling rules.
- Work with the Greater London Authority to test the impact of behavioural support on pupils at risk of exclusion in 20 London schools.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Education Endowment Foundation is a charity set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust as lead foundation in partnership with Impetus Trust, with a Department for Education grant of £125m. It is dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. Since its launch the EEF has awarded £28.7 million to 56 projects working with over 300,000 pupils in over 1,800 schools across England.
2. Chess in Schools and Communities is a charity which aims to improve children’s educational outcomes and foster their social development by introducing them to the game of chess in schools and inner city communities. CSC aims to establish a chess club in every primary school in England and Wales and currently works with 200 schools, providing them with chess sets, chess coaches and teacher training.
3. The full list of projects funded by EEF can be viewed athttps://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/projects.