OAT national chess club and championship

Enrichment case study (Trust-wide)

Supported by Ormiston Trust a national chess club initiative and chess championship was developed following inspiration from a study to test the impact of structured chess instruction in schools.

What we did

OAT’s Chess Clubs programme was set up for the first time in 2019,  established in line with OAT’sEnrichment Charter and to ensure OAT students, in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the country, had access to an activity that many of their peers in more affluent areas were able to enjoy.

Academies submitted funding applications to receive up to £100 to set up or develop an established chess club, and 15 academies initially applied and were granted funding. To support the development of the clubs and create an opportunity for inter-academy competition, a chess club co-ordinator was also appointed, Karen Giller, a chess fanatic who has gone on to develop and co-ordinate several online competitions.

Students to-date have completed online tournaments with an inaugural OAT chess championship shield presented to the winning school. This initiative has allowed over 400 young people at almost half of our schools to now access the broad and wide-reaching benefits that the game has to offer.

The impact

Whilst participation in extracurricular activities has long been known to benefit young people, developing chess clubs is an effective way that schools across the country can promote the skills needed to develop pupils into well-rounded adults. For any schools that may be considering a chess club, it’s important to look into how to invest in the necessary equipment and staff training needed, whether support comes from an academy trust or a charity like Chess in Schools and Communities.

Across OAT, we are proud to be strengthening our long-standing reputation for providing high-quality enrichment opportunities that will aid us in our mission to improve the life chances of children and young people. By engaging pupils from across the network, we want to ensure that the chess club project has a lasting impact and legacy by fostering lifelong interests and skills.

What we thought

A student said: “I joined the chess club because I want to become better and I enjoy a challenge.”

Jemima Waltho, the Enrichment Manager at Ormiston Academies Trust: “OAT’s commitment and investment into the establishment of chess as one of the pillars of our enrichment offering is excellent.  I am a fan of the game in its own right, but there is also so much evidence that chess benefits children and young people and can help improve their results.”