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A primary school in Cambridge is exploring the power of chess to unlock pupils’ concentration and critical thinking skills.

 Cherry Hinton C of E Primary School and Nursery received £250 funding for chess tuition from the charity Chess in Schools and Communities and this has been renewed for the 2017/18 academic year.

 In Year 3 all pupils receive chess tuition and many opt to join the chess club too. The school has a chess team that scooped third place in the county championships. Chess is proving so popular at the school that they plan to establish a second team.

 Headteacher Patricia Yoxen, said:  “Wednesday is chess day at school. In the morning there is whole class tuition followed by a lunchtime chess club available to everyone and in the afternoon small group coaching takes place. Throughout the week chess is played in the school library and often in the playground. Chess in school can be lively and noisy or quiet and contemplative as children are working out their strategy.

“Our chess team is a diverse mix of girls and boys, we find that chess appeals to all groups of children but in particular those who are competitive but not sporty. Chess helps to develop reasoning and strategic thinking skills, it improves concentration and resilience and these skills are essential to learning, progress and attainment.

 “The school chess team won 3rd place in the Cambridge Chess Championship Tournament behind St Faith’s and King’s School – competing against 28 teams, mainly from large Independent schools. Their success is due to the enthusiasm and motivation of the players, excellent coaching from Nick Jackson, funding and advice from CSC and the support of the parents.”

 Pupils at the school have achieved great success with Kian Dharmasena, age 10, playing for his county in the U10 British Chess Championships. This summer he came joint third in the under 10 at the 104th British Chess Championships in Wales and narrowly missed out in this year’s final qualifiers for the British squad. His elder brother, Netherhall School pupil, Gavith, 12, is in the British junior squad.

 Their father Geeth Dharmasena, said, “The boys both joined the school chess team and their interest and their talent has grown from there. We now spend most weekends travelling to different competitions around the country.”

 Councillor Simon Bywater, Chairman of the Children and Young People Committee, said, “It is great to see Cherry Hinton C of E Primary School using chess to help pupils to develop skills including concentration and planning.”

 Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC) is a UK charity whose mission is to improve children’s educational outcomes and social development by introducing them to the game of chess.

Founded in 2009 CSC now teaches in more than 300 schools and supports 400 more nationwide www.chessinschools.co.uk.If your school is interested in establishing chess please contact Dan Staples – [email protected].

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