Compulsory Chess Lessons For Seven-Year-Olds?

Pupils should be made to play chess to boost their concentration and make them more patient, says a teachers' leader.

Hank Roberts, former president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said chess sharpens the mind and should be made compulsory from the age of seven.

In a motion submitted to ATL's annual conference in Manchester, Mr Roberts called on the government to give more funding to the charity Chess in Schools and Communities to provide lessons in state schools, despite the award of almost £700,000 last year.

Mr Roberts added: "Chess covers or comes into many areas of the curriculum. It's not just about kings, queens, rooks etc, it's about quadrants and coordinates, thinking strategically, foreseeing consequences. It's about lines and angles, weighing options and making decisions.

"It's about teaching patience. Researchers have showed the children that can wait and get a bigger reward, rather than consume an immediate but smaller reward, do better in school and in later life."

Britain was one of the few European countries that failed to recognise chess as a sport or fund a proper 'in-school programme'.

Mr Roberts insisted the game was hugely popular in private schools but too many in the state system failed to offer it to pupils.

He said the game can dramatically improve pupils' levels of concentration, boost problem-solving skills and develop their thought processes.

It's also claimed that chess can boost numeracy levels with knock-on benefits across other subjects, including reading.