Bridge in Schools

The English Bridge Union is the governing body of the game in England and during the last several years, in conjunction with the charity English Bridge Education and Development, we have succeeded in introducing bridge to many schools, much to the enjoyment and benefit of their pupils and staff.

Why should we encourage bridge in Schools?

As we know, bridge is terrific fun. It is something that children of all ages really enjoy once they try it. They love working things out, discovering how to make the most of the cards, and of course they love winning, It is also an educating team activity, helping kids to cope with defeat and victory, and to learn that mistakes are part of life. As an intellectual challenge, bridge is unsurpassed, posing continuous problems to be solved, involving elements of logical reasoning, probability analysis and decision-making. One of its greatest virtues is that it develops skills which benefit children in their future lives: young people can develop a sense of achievement and understand the value of working steadily towards a goal, the need to co-operate with a partner, to share information and to combine as a team to compete effectively.

For an overview about minibridge and its educational and social benefits, see http://www.ebu.co.uk/minibridge/educational-implications and http://www.ebu.co.uk/minibridge

Repeated studies in the UK and elsewhere around the world have shown the sort of enhancement which bridge can bring to the classroom. A study commissioned by the EBU at St Paul’s School in Manchester showed that bridge and minibridge taught skills in numeracy, problem solving, probability, speaking, listening, rule following, team building, mental capacity and much more. At the time of the St Paul’s study, David Milliband, then Minister of State for Schools Standards said, “Innovations such as Minibridge are to be encouraged...it was a pleasure to witness primary school children’s complete concentration, whilst so obviously enjoying playing a game that is proven to improve their school learning ability.”

For an examination of this phenomenon in an American context, see http://www.acbl.org/statisticallyspeaking.pdf

Sir Peter Williams' report for the Department of Children Schools and Families (Independent Review of Mathematics Teaching in Early Years Settings and Primary Schools) presents the case for what is going wrong with Maths teaching in schools today, and what can be done to put it right. Within his report, Sir Peter states:

"The foremost concern, drawn from Ofsted and Primary National Strategy (PNS) findings, is the need to strengthen teaching that challenges and enables children to use and apply mathematics (UAM) more often, and more effectively, than is presently the case in many schools [...] A closely allied concern is that too little attention is paid to building good attitudes to mathematics. Clearly, if children’s interests are not kindled through using and applying mathematics in interesting and engaging ways, and through learning across the full mathematics curriculum, they are unlikely to develop good attitudes to the subject." (p. 62)

Most recently, in France, the Ministry of Education has specifically identified bridge as a route towards rekindling interest in mathematics as a subject among schoolchildren.

Of course, bridge is not only for the privileged minority. As reported in the Times Educational Supplement, at a junior school in Grimsby, a group of 10 youngsters studied minibridge for one term, following which they showed a 35% increase in their marks for maths in their SATS results. And this was at a school in a deprived area where minibridge was introduced as an Educational Action Zone initiative

Getting started

Looking for Some Help to get you started?

Probably the quickest way to get help locally is to contact our sister charity, English Bridge Education & Development by email or phone 01296-317218. After a careful discussion of your needs, EBED will offer you a programme of support which could include:

1. A bridge taster session which will allow the school and pupils to understand more clearly the reward and pleasure available through starting a regular bridge session at the school
2. An introduction to volunteers who will help run bridge sessions at the school
3. Contact with our network of teachers at schools where bridge is successfully established
4. Bridge training for the teacher who wishes to start and run a bridge club
5. A starter kit of bridge supplies which can be supplied to get the club up and running quickly
6. Advice on teaching methods including our Teachers Resource Pack

Be sure to check http://www.ebu.co.uk/minibridge for links to a range of other teaching materials

Junior Award Scheme

The Junior Award Scheme is an important and exciting initiative from English Bridge Education & Development, designed to stimulate enthusiasm for junior bridge among young players, parents and educators. It is an award scheme that offers graded attainment levels dependent upon teacher assessed ability demonstrated at the table. It aims to give young people positive reinforcement, confidence and a sense of achievement through monitoring and encouraging the student's progress along their bridge learning journey. We hope they will enjoy working to complete each level.

The scheme breaks down the skills required to develop from raw rookie to serious contender into a set of steps and milestones which can be easily understood and evaluated in the classroom. These skills (covering bidding, play and defence) are grouped into six progressive levels of attainment: Minibridge, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond. Each level requires the satisfactory ‘demonstration’ of about twenty increasingly difficult elements of technique.

The scheme is intended to be administered by school teachers through observation of the junior player performing the required task in a real play situation (possibly with prepared deals). Progress cards for each student are maintained by the teacher for ‘ticking off ’ each skill on the list, and the student can see exactly where they stand against the objectives for the level. We would expect that the school’s bridge organiser would have the bridge skills required to evaluate the students up to a certain level, but for students attempting the higher ranks, a local ‘expert’ may be drafted in to help.

The scheme can be used as part of the 'skill' component of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

You can find out more about the scheme here.

Events for Juniors

There are a range of events for School Age players including:

1. The annual Junior Teach-In held over a weekend at the end of August/beginning of September

2. The Young Bridge Challenge, a suite of inter-schools competitions run over a day at Loughborough Grammar School

3. The EBU Students and Schools National Simultaneous Pairs

4. Really Easy Events throughout the year

5. Under-21 Pairs Event, held in London at Easter

Bridge in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme

Bridge is recognised as an optional element in the Skills section of the scheme. Bridge can be studied under the scheme at any level, from an introduction to the game using MiniBridge right up to advanced levels. Please contact us directly for further advice.

Safeguarding, the EBU's Child Protection Policy

The EBU is committed to the care and safety of young people. Whilst bridge is predominantly an adult pursuit there are a significant number of young people who take part in our activities. Parents and guardians are entitled to know what to expect when their children play - particularly if they attend an event unaccompanied. The EBU Policy and Procedures gives full details of what to expect from anyone who is involved in running a bridge activity where young people are present. Whilst the whole document is important those who are planning to organise a bridge related activity will find Appendix C particularly useful - this gives guidelines on how to plan the activity from the initial risk assessment, through to the conclusion of the event. There are a number of useful forms which can also be used.

Any adult who supervises a child or a group of children (other than their own) in a bridge activity should obtain Criminal Records Bureau Enhanced Disclosure. Full details are contained in the document Checks for Youth Workers.