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After School/lunchtime chess club

(21 Posts)
ChessAtSchool Thu 18-May-17 18:03:07

I have name-changed for this as it will be identifying.

I am considering offering a chess club at my child's primary school. Have talked to the HT who is keen, so will as a next step meet with the school's business manager.

The options I see are either half hour lunchtime sessions or one hour after school sessions, or perhaps both. I could do some sort of teaching, e.g. run a 5 week programme introducing the rules of the game and some basic strategy/tactics, or for those who already play, some sort of training sessions aimed at improving their play. In contrast, I could simply run sessions where I provide chess sets and oversee the kids playing against each other. That sounds simple, but is not to be sneered at - young chess players need opportunities to play against various other people, rather than just their parents/their computer programme.

Ideally I could do all of that. But it's not realistic all in one session. So I have been considering offering two separate lunch time clubs, one being a beginners class and the other for 'improvers'. In addition to that an after school session open to anyone wanting to play.

School charges outside providers for use of the premises, unless the club is free of charge. I'd need to charge at least for the actual 'classes' because mid-term this is my plan to earn a little money, have recent work experience, and get references. If I had smallish groups of up to 10 children for the 30 minute classes, does £4/session sound reasonable or too much?
In contrast perhaps I could hold the 'come and play' after school 1h sessions for free? Or perhaps charge a nominal fee of £1/session. I'd hope in that case that the school would not charge me for the use of the premises.

Teachers: Is that too complicated a proposal to offer the school?

Parents: Would you be interested in such a set up?

(In a previous life I was a competitive chess player at international level, twice women's champion in my home country; I competed at numerous youth world championships and represented my country at the chess olympics. I also taught children in chess clubs (beginners) and coached and trained some of the most able girl players at the time, very successfully.
This was nearly two decades ago however, I 'retired' from chess in my mid-twenties and haven't been involved since. So my chess is decidedly rusty, but definitely up to scratch for teaching children. Moved to England in the mean time and have no knowledge of the local chess landscape as I have never participated.)

RueDeWakening Thu 18-May-17 18:15:51

We pay £45 a term for a lunchtime chess club. It's quite well arranged, each child competes against all the others who go, and earn points to qualify for the megafinal every term/year (can't remember which!). Plus during each term when they get a certain number of points they get a small reward - pencil, book to record moves in etc.

mrz Thu 18-May-17 18:52:50

Our chess club is half an hour at lunchtime. It's less popular at this time of year but we have giant chess sets outdoors and some table versions for children to use in the summer months. It's free.

cantkeepawayforever Thu 18-May-17 19:11:38

Local (large, very successful) out of school chess club charges £1 for 1.5 hours, but has lots and lots of members.

In-school chess club (also does inter-school competitions) runs for an hour after school each week and is free.

i think a little while ago they had someone coming in to do some coaching and there may have been a small charge for that, perhaps £10 for 5 sessions? £4 per week sounds a little more than normal for a club within school time, I would say.

bostoncremecrazy Fri 19-May-17 09:04:38

Our school offer chess club for free. I wouldnt pay for a lunchtime club.

Autumnsky Fri 19-May-17 13:24:52

DS1 attended a chessclub in primary school.He learned chess from the tutor and developed the interest from it. It was run by a parent as well.We paid £4 per session, but it was an afterschool club. I prefer afterschool one, as DS would like to have his lunch break running around with friends. An after school one also provide childcare, I like the free time for myself.
As for the teaching, don't make it too formal. Ours session are a bit of talks of how to play, then children would play games with each other and the tutor would watch and give advices.There is a point system, children were quite keen to earn the points. The rules are taken after the professional club rules I think.
DS1's secondary school's chess club is free though, just children play with each other, no teaching invloved.

Autumnsky Fri 19-May-17 13:31:27

I would suggest OP to find a local chess club to attend, this certainly will give you some idea of how England system work, and also later if you find out some talented player, you can give some advice on this side. DS1's secondary school always held chess match each year, then enter their best players to attend the regional matches, and some has gone into national final. I think there is an organisation doing this match each year for children.

ChessAtSchool Fri 19-May-17 13:51:43

Interesting. Those whose schools have free chess clubs, who covers the costs? As in, who provides the chess sets, and workbooks/photocopied worksheets for (voluntary) homework, and such? And the people who actually run the clubs (as in, set up, organise, oversee, tidy up) - I assume they must be volunteering their time. (I doubt many schools have funds to pay someone to run a club in order to keep it free for the children.) Are they 'school volunteers' e.g. school parents, teachers, former staff; or are they 'chess volunteers' e.g. people from a local chess club who volunteer to go into schools?

In contrast, RueDe, do you really 'only' get kids playing/competing against each other for your £45/term (probably shorter than one hour sessions at lunchtime)? The effort involved for what you describe seems small. If there is no teaching/coaching/training involved, it seems steep for something that any local chess club would provide for much less/free! Who are they people who run it, are they competitive chess players? (I get that not everywhere has a child friendly local chess club within reasonable distance, but still, it seems a bit of a rip-off)

Setting up a chess club would involve financial investment (buying chess sets; and if I were to teach beginners/improvers, purchasing teaching resources; possibly public liability insurance (just finding out about that) and time investment (especially preparing the teaching/coaching sessions, setting up and tidying up, and the actual time of the club/course). I cannot do all that for free, it would leave me financially out of pocket after having given maybe six hours of my time per week.

The school is keen to have a chess club. There are popular 30 minute lunchtime French clubs that cost £4.60 per session. Before/after school clubs are free if run by the PE teacher, and cost between £4 and £6.50 per (roughly one hour) session for external providers. From that perspective I think parents in our locality would be willing to pay something, if they get something in return. Which is why I figured I could charge for a chess course and/or for coaching/training sessions, even if perhaps not for simple 'play against other kids' sessions.

However if I had a free after school chess club, I expect I would be used as free childcare (the free PE after school clubs are used that way by many), even for children not in the least interested in chess. That prospect doesn't fire up my enthusiasm! If I'd do anything on a voluntary/free basis, it would be because I enjoy chess, and would like to pass on some of that passion, not because I wish to look after children for free after school (whilst paying for my own to be in childcare). Which is why I figured perhaps a nominal £1/session or such? Or could joining the after school chess club be made dependant on actually knowing how to play? I mean, what do people who run free chess clubs do with kids who arrive not knowing the rules and who have no interest in learning?

ChessAtSchool Fri 19-May-17 14:01:11

Cross-posted with Autumnsky. Thanks, yes I have been in touch with some other people who run chess clubs at schools, and have discussed about competitions etc but last time I checked there was no (non-school) chess club that I could join anywhere near.

And yes to not making the teaching too formal, I do understand that, the children are still little.

I know what you mean about lunch being for running around, for the same reason our child does not attend French club. Hmm lots to think about.

Sittinginthesun Fri 19-May-17 16:38:04

My son plays chess, both at school and in a club. School club is at lunchtime and is free - he discovered chess in school, then moved to a club.

School chess club is run by a volunteer (a parent who is a v.good player), but is mainly playing for fun with a little bit of coaching. School provide the chess sets and a coaching board.

Locally, in other schools, parents pay up to £6 for group lessons. I think this is to much for a school club, but I would pay £4 for an after school hour if this included a decent level of coaching. Lunchtime, I would prefer a free "drop in" club.

If you're thinking of this as a business, have you at Chess in Schools? I'll find a link if I can.

Sittinginthesun Fri 19-May-17 16:40:07

I believe it has a section about setting up a club.

catkind Fri 19-May-17 16:47:30

I'd keep it simple to start with. After school chess club, £4 for an hour session, limit 20 kids say. That's 5 tables in the classroom, 2 sets on each. See how many you get and what level. If you later want to offer extra coaching sessions for smaller groups, or add a second session if demand is high, you could consider it once you're established. Most primary schools a (one) chess club is plenty.

I don't think a token charge would work. I do think you could reasonably refuse to have back any children who don't engage with learning chess. If you were prepared to volunteer, you could see if school could be persuaded to fund sets, or ask for sets donated. They might even have some in a cupboard somewhere, have they really never had a chess club before? Or wet playtime cupboard? I don't know what other costs there would be - you really don't need handouts or homework or anything for a school chess club.

If lunchtime, could they bring their packed lunch so they have an hour to play? You don't get much done in half an hour by the time you've got sets out and packed up.

All school chess clubs I've seen have been based on playing each other. Usually they have a ladder tournament on the go. Sometimes a little coaching session at the beginning, maybe only selected children if there aren't things that work for all of them. For example when you first start up you're likely to need to pull aside the beginners and show them the moves.

The mention of megafinals makes me think ruedewakening's school may be doing this:

cantkeepawayforever Fri 19-May-17 17:32:36

If the school already has a culture of paid-for after school clubs, then it will be easier for your to be paid-for as well.

Where I work, almost all clubs are free because they are run by staff volunteers, so it might be harder to persuade people to pay, if that makes sense?

ChessAtSchool Fri 19-May-17 17:54:42

Thanks everyone, that is very helpful. I have had a look at ChessInSchools and yes, I could imagine becoming a tutor for them. If I'm being honest, I feel that chess should be taught as part of the curriculum rather than as a club, there is so much to be gained - and CSC is promoting exactly that. So thanks for that link! Also they provide a curriculum complete with handouts and worksheets :D I'll definitely be looking at that.

Yes I'm coming to the conclusion that I should be looking at starting simply, like Catkind suggested. That chess challenge competition would be something to work towards for next spring. But in general just because 'it's the usual way' to just have kids playing against each other, doesn't mean that I will necessarily stick to that... ;)

catkind Fri 19-May-17 18:01:36

Good luck with it! I wish DC's school had a chess club, paid or otherwise.

PhilODox Fri 19-May-17 18:09:10

I don't think 30 minutes is long enough, IMO. If you want to teach something (e.g. an opening​) then give them chance to try it out on one another. 45-60 minutes is better.
Also, you might need to do some rated tournaments before you start, as the first thing parents will ask before they hand over cash is "what's your rating?".
Is this your child's school, or other local schools?

PhilODox Fri 19-May-17 18:16:14

BTw, women can often enter tournaments in UK for free because there aren't enough entrants.

coragreta Fri 19-May-17 18:36:38

I really disagree with paying for lunch time clubs. What if the parents can't afford £4?
I suppose you could charge for after school.

Sittinginthesun Fri 19-May-17 18:58:53

I'm sure you're up to speed on this, but in case it helps":

ECF for all things chess related in England. You'll need an ECF number to play tournaments, and the calendar shows tournaments and congresses if you want to build up a grade again.

BackforGood Fri 19-May-17 22:54:32

I agree with those saying they'd be much more likely to pay for an afterschool club, than a lunchtime one.
It is difficult to get a good 1/2 hour in at lunchtimes - around squeezing people through the dinner queue etc., so 30 mins would be tight, but also it's quite difficult to teach much in 30mins.
There is also (as a parent) the thought they are 'there anyway', whereas an after school club is more clearly 'something extra' they are getting.
You'd also see they could learn a lot more in an hour, than 1/2 hour, and, I should imagine, have a much more satisfying experience in terms of 'complete games'.
Depending on how local you are to a school, and if this were feasible, but the idea of offering some 'taster' sessions at lunch time might get people interested to then persuade their parents to pay for an after school club?
My dd went to after school chess for £2.50 a session (was an hour though) some 5 years ago, so whereas at first I'd have thought £4 was a bit much, I suppose it's not that far off for an hour but seems a lot for 1/2 hour.
How many would you have in the club at once? That would obviously make a difference to your sums.
Also, is there actually a room you could use at lunch time ?

Witchend Fri 19-May-17 23:09:55

I'd be reluctant to pay for a chess club in primary school unless I knew it was successful with lots of people.
This sounds a little silly perhaps, but I (and dh who was good as a child) could teach them enough at primary level, but what they'd benefit from is playing other children. So if there were perhaps 15 other children of various standards going, it would be worth it, but if there were only 2, then I wouldn't really feel it was worth it.

I think also going into that would be for me at primary it was a wet weather (free) thing to do-there were however many chess sets and a couple of teachers happy to wander round giving instruction. Similar for dh, although he also went to an out of school club-but he says it wasn't paying unless you were entering tournaments in which case you had the entrance fee.

I've just looked up the local chess club (just outside M25, big one has everything from beginners upwards) and they charge £25 per year, meeting for up to 2 hours a week-not just term time, so I wouldn't be paying £5 a week even for the convenience of having it at school.

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