Painful time of the year for chess teachers ?

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John Upham
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Painful time of the year for chess teachers ?

Post by John Upham » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:14 am

You might imagine that the last couple of weeks of the state school term were joyous ones for chess teachers : year 6 children move from their primary school to their new secondary school. I, for one, wish each year 6 chess club leaver a successful and happy time at their new school and that they will continue to enjoy playing chess at school and improving. :D

You might think "This seems obvious so what is the reason for mentioning it ?"

The year six children from Preparatory and other Independent schools will reply that their new school or college does indeed have an active chess club (I probably knew that anyway) but the children from state schools will be disappointed to tell me that their new school does not have a chess club nor does it have an interest in chess and for that reason they will probably give up playing. :shock:

I've suggested that they talk to their new form teacher and ask for help in starting a club. How successful this is depends on how well motivated the child is.

The question is this...

Does this above "problem" really matter and, if it does, what can the chess community that cares do about it ?
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John Swain
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Re: Painful time of the year for chess teachers ?

Post by John Swain » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:44 am

In Nottinghamshire, for the past three years, we've issued a letter to Year 6s encouraging them to continue playing chess even if they discover that there is no chess club at their new secondary school in September: www.nottschess.org/files/letter_to_year ... n_2019.pdf

Linked to this, a couple of years ago we set up a graded rapidplay tournament for under 12s, as part of the County Championship in the autumn.

The letter advertises other Notts events like the Congress and Rapidplay and encourages juniors to join local clubs.

Neill Cooper
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Re: Painful time of the year for chess teachers ?

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:01 am

John Upham wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:14 am
Does this above "problem" really matter and, if it does, what can the chess community that cares do about it ?
I think it does matter, which is why I have done what I can to promote secondary school chess.
But I do not think you can solve the issue within the school. A keen year 7 might get a chess club going, but without a member of school staff who is enthusiastic it is unlikely to last very long. Sometimes sixth form pupils can be the dynamo for a school chess club.
The main thing that the chess community can do about it is to encourage them to join their activities. That works best if they are a junior chess club or a junior county organisation, as most adult chess clubs can be daunting to 11 year olds.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Painful time of the year for chess teachers ?

Post by Alex Holowczak » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:07 pm

The main issue is that there aren't enough Neill Coopers and John Swains in secondary schools. Whereas primary schools rely on external coaches coming in, those same coaches don't do that at secondary school. To some extent, this is because children don't have to wait around after school to be collected - they can just go home on their own. To another extent, given it is reliant on school teachers, it is a model that is destined to fail, given these days teachers hop around the country seeking promotions in their jobs, rather than settling in to a job at a school for years/decades as was the norm in the past. So even if a school gets something going for a few years, when the teacher leaves, the club dies with it.

So Neill is right that the answer lies outside the school environment, and the local county association (or area or whatever) running activities for them to continue to take part in once they leave primary school. This is where Sussex's model is excellent - they are not normally challenging to win inter-county events at Under 11 level, but they have been historically dominant at secondary school age groups, and they punch well above their weight (relative to their population) at keeping interest at secondary school and generating strong players in that age group who seem pretty likely to continue even into adulthood.

Neill Cooper
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Re: Painful time of the year for chess teachers ?

Post by Neill Cooper » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:40 am

Not just Sussex but also Kent, Essex, Herts and Berks do lots to support and encourage juniors transitioning into secondary school and onwards. It is one of the reasons why schools from the south east do so well in national competitions.

John Upham
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Re: Painful time of the year for chess teachers ?

Post by John Upham » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:06 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:40 am
Not just Sussex but also Kent, Essex, Herts and Berks do lots to support and encourage juniors transitioning into secondary school and onwards. It is one of the reasons why schools from the south east do so well in national competitions.
Neill,

I would like Hampshire to be included in your above list at some future point.

Could you list here the specific actions you believe help primary school chess club to continue with chess once they move to secondary school ?

I'm not so much thinking of those who play chess outside of their primary school but the ones who only play chess in their school.

Thanks !
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Neill Cooper
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Re: Painful time of the year for chess teachers ?

Post by Neill Cooper » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:16 pm

John Upham wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:14 am
The year six children from Preparatory and other Independent schools will reply that their new school or college does indeed have an active chess club (I probably knew that anyway) but the children from state schools will be disappointed to tell me that their new school does not have a chess club nor does it have an interest in chess and for that reason they will probably give up playing
Actually Pisa data shows that "just above half of the students attending schools where this activity [chess club] is offered."
[Figure from https://www.gov.uk/government/publicati ... l-mobility]
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Neill Cooper
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Re: Painful time of the year for chess teachers ?

Post by Neill Cooper » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:41 pm

John Upham wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:06 pm
Could you list here the specific actions you believe help primary school chess club to continue with chess once they move to secondary school ?

I'm not so much thinking of those who play chess outside of their primary school but the ones who only play chess in their school.
If they only play in their school (and not, for instance, at a Megafinal) then there is not much that they can do - apart from play on line or against their computer. If their school claims to have a chess club then they can ask for it to be run. (I did a random choice of a Secondary School in Basingstoke, found The Costello School, and found it's parent handbook includes "Chess Club")
They can see what other chess might be available locally - not just organiseations but also in libraries or in cafes.

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