UK State Schools to Add Chess to Their Curriculum

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. curriculum / kəˈrɪk yə ləm / (n) – the subjects or courses at a school

    The school curriculum includes Spanish and French languages.

  2. concentration / ˌkɒn sənˈtreɪ ʃən / (n) – the state of giving your complete attention to something

    Concentration is needed to finish a task.

  3. key / ki / (adj) – being very important in achieving something

    The training was key to her success.

  4. sign up / ˈsaɪnˌʌp / (phrasal) – to include yourself in a list so that you can do or join something

    We signed up for the exercise program.

  5. optimistic / ˌɒp təˈmɪs tɪk / (adj) – hopeful that good things will happen

    I’m optimistic that my team will win.


Read the text below.

Several public primary schools in the United Kingdom have added chess to their curriculum.

In the last two years, about 200 state primary schools in the United Kingdom have started teaching the game to improve their students’ academic skills. According to a UK research, chess can help boost students’ concentration and develop their mathematical and problem-solving abilities, which are key skills to excel in school.

Some schools hold an hour-long class of chess once a week and start chess clubs where students can practice playing the game against each other.

This initiative was started by the organization Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC). CSC is founded by former professional chess player Malcolm Pein. Established in 2009, CSC donates chess sets to schools and offers free chess training courses to teachers. CSC also organizes international chess tournaments called London Chess Classic and Yes2Chess.

With 20 primary schools signing up for CSC’s chess training each month, the organization is optimistic that the initiative will spread to 1,000 UK state schools in the next three years.

The initiative comes amid concerns about UK students’ performance in mathematics. UK educators are worried about low math scores among many students in the country. In a report by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Kingdom ranked 27th in terms of students’ math performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

CSC’s initiative, however, is expected to create an impact on the overall math skills of students in the country. According to a research published in Frontiers in Psychology, students who undergo weekly training in chess have shown improved mathematical skills and overall cognitive abilities.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What is your opinion on using non-traditional curriculum in schools?
• What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum used in local public schools?

Discussion B

• Should schools give higher priority to math and science than other subjects? Discuss.
• Besides these subjects, what other fields of study should be given emphasis in the school curriculum? Explain your answer.