There has been a Chess Club at St Edward’s ever since the school first opened. In fact the club is older than the school, as it followed on directly from a club operating in one of the schools this school replaced.
The club is currently run by Mr Abell, Mr Rose
and Mrs Salmon. Mr Abell and Mr Rose
teach Mathematics and are both accredited ECF coaches. Mrs Salmon teaches Modern Foreign Languages
and PE. It takes place on Fridays during term time, from 3:40 to 5:00. Membership in recent years has varied between 50 and 80 pupils, of which around a third are girls. We run a variety of internal competitions as well as taking part in the national competitions mentioned elsewhere. As well as our own pupils, the club is also open to talented chess players in the upper years of our feeder schools and, by invitation, to those from other schools in the local area.
Chess on the Curriculum
When the school first opened as a middle school in 1981 chess was on the curriculum in all four year groups as the then Headteacher Miss Wrathall felt that it was of value to the pupils’ education. It has remained part of the school’s curriculum ever since. Chess is currently taught to all pupils in Y5. Pupils receive 12 lessons during the year as part of a rotation within the Mathematics department.
Why Teach Chess?
Chess is one of the oldest strategy games in the world and is almost certainly the most widely played. It is played in a huge variety of different cultures and is one of a very small number of sports that can be played on level terms by all people regardless of age, gender and physical disability. A game of chess can be seen as analogous of many situations in life. Each player has a desired outcome and a set of resources that can be used according to fixed rules. Through playing chess pupils can learn concentration and strategic thinking skills but they can also learn about accepting responsibility when one makes mistakes and fighting against the odds in difficult situations. Chess, like other sports, also gives players the chance to learn to ‘meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same’. For some pupils chess can provide a means of sublimating aggressive tendencies. For others it may introduce them to the idea that study and practice can lead to success, which has obvious benefits for the wider curriculum. In some ways chess in school may be compared to cross-country. Very few pupils will go on to be great runners but all benefit from the physical exertion. In the same way, few pupils will become great chess players but all benefit from the mental exertion.
Coaching is provided within the chess club by Mr Abell and Mr Rose and also by Mr R. Milner who is the Chairman of Cheddleton and Leek Chess Club and a qualified ECF arbiter.
The most promising players have the chance to be coached by Mr W. Armstrong who has played chess at international level for the Great Britain Visually Handicapped Team.
Cheddleton and Leek Chess Club
The School is very fortunate to have strong links with Cheddleton and Leek Chess Club, which is the largest and most successful chess club in North Staffordshire. The school chess club is effectively the junior section of Cheddleton and Leek Chess Club. When pupils become strong enough players they are invited to join the senior club where they can learn more. Many then go on to play for one of the club’s teams in the North Staffordshire and District Chess League. Click here to find out more about Cheddleton and Leek Chess Club.
UK Chess Challenge
The UK Chess Challenge is the largest junior chess competition in the world and starts each year in the Spring term with tournaments to find the top players in each school. These go on to play in county ‘Megafinals’ from which the top scorers qualify for the Northern and Southern ‘Gigafinals’. We have taken part in the challenge, very successfully, for a number of years and have hosted the Staffordshire Megafinal since 2005. Click here to find out more about the UK Chess Challenge.
English Chess Federation National Schools’ Chess Championship
This is the ‘FA Cup’ of schools’ chess and is open to all schools with pupils under 19. We usually enter a team each year, with varying levels of success. Our best result was in 1990 when we reached the quarter finals. For the academic year 2012-13 the ECF introduced new sections for under 11 mixed teams and under 11 girls' teams. We entered three teams in each of these sections and were delighted to reach the National Finals of both. In 2013-14 our under 19 girls' team reached the National Final and finished equal third in England. In 2014-15 we reached the National Finals of the under 11 mixed and of both of the girls' tournaments; only one other school was represented in all three finals.
Click here to find out more about the English Chess Federation.
Many of our pupils have been selected to play for Staffordshire at under 11, under 13, under 15 and under 18 level. Several have played for the county under 100 team, where it should be noted that the 100 refers to chess grade and not to age.
Click here to find out more about Staffordshire Junior Chess.
British Chess Education Trust Award
In 2014 the Academy was presented with an award by the British Chess Educational Trust, in respect of the school's outstanding enthusiasm and achievement in chess over a considerable number of years. We were nominated for the award by Staffordshire County Chess Association via the Midland Counties Chess Union.
The award consists of an inscribed wooden chess board with felted and weighted wooden pieces as well as an electronic chess clock. It was presented, in a full school assembly, on Monday 10th November by the ECF Director of Junior Chess and Education Mrs Traci Whitfield.
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