In a recent piece of research reviewed by Scottish International Chess Master Craig Pritchett on the educational benefits of learning to play chess, it was concluded that “chess coaching in Primary 4 curriculum class time linked to the development of out-of-hours clubs helped improve pupils’ behaviour and social skills and that, taken together, impacts on reading, spelling and comprehension made a difference to learning”.
The Aberdeen Chess in Schools project started in 2001 and involved seven primary schools with over 300 pupils participating. This was expanded to include other schools and funding was secured until 2006.
Aberdeen Council appointed a full-time Chess Development Officer and the initial aims of the project were to:
- establish after school chess clubs;
- develop teaching materials to encourage parents to become chess coaches;
- organise family chess evenings;
- organise tournaments and one to one coaching;
- involve parents in the classroom, developing one to one chess for learning difficulties and behavioural problems and develop a mentoring scheme.
The project came under the scrutiny of HM Inspectorate of Education. They reported that the Chess project addressed the literacy and numeracy needs of young people.
Researchers from the University of Aberdeen’s Rowan Group conducted quantitative assessment in comprehension, reading, spelling, vocabulary, numeracy and social adjustment.
The research found that there were positive benefits to comprehension and numeracy skills, and children who played chess developed self-regulated learning and problem solving skills through such study and play. Chess helped teach children how to learn. It created a desire to learn and the ‘will to use knowledge’.
Frank Park (B.Ed; B.Sc (Hons); M.I. Biol) is a fully qualified teacher and is Centre Director of Kip McGrath Education Centres, Kilmarnock and Ayr. Frank launched the Kilmarnock centre in 2003 and took over the Ayr centre in January 2011. All of our tutors in Maths and English are fully qualified teachers.
Although I love to teach and thrive on the results that my students attain, my other interests are astronomy and chess. To this end, I have invited all Ayr and Prestwick Primary Schools to enter a pupil in a chess tournament being organised by the Kip McGrath Ayr Centre, please contact Frank Park for details at firstname.lastname@example.org. The tournament is limited to the 16 schools in Ayr and Prestwick due to the size of my premises, however I would hope to organise something similar for the other South Ayrshire schools if this tournament proves a success.