Copthorne Prep has built up a formidable reputation as a school for excellence in chess, with pupils being taught strategic thinking skills and emotional intelligence from a very young age. Our success in this area is well documented not least because as a school we dominate the local chess scene with players who represent their county as well as players who represent England.
But chess at Copthorne is not all about the headline acts, and what drives our chess programme is giving children an opportunity to engage in one of the world’s oldest games and to begin to think critically and make reasoned judgements.
Playing chess certainly improves academic performance, but we have also found a very social side to the game which has enabled many of our children to form friendships through a shared interest and low-level, low stakes competitions. In truth we often see our children learning a great deal when they are engaged in chess without actually realising it!
The game itself is very inclusive and has a positive impact on our children’s wellbeing. It captures the attention of those who engage with it, and it is lovely to watch children of all ages, abilities and backgrounds challenging each other in very friendly rivalry across the school!
As one of our pupils recently said, ‘I like playing chess because it really makes me think – you always need a strategy’.