Bridging the gap with card games

12th November 2010 at 00:00
Primary school maths pupils given a hand with simplified version of bridge

The relationship between education and the age-old card game of bridge has long been limited to bridge clubs at public schools, where it comes slightly below chess in the social hierarchy.

But, unlikely though it may seem, this looks set to change with the development of a simplified version enabling primary pupils to use the game in the classroom.

The English Bridge Union (EBU) is keen to promote the use of Minibridge, designed for children in Years 4 to 9, as a way of improving maths and social skills at school.

The initiative has gone down well at Pembury School, Tunbridge Wells, according to Year 4 teacher Cindy Cole.

Ms Cole, who took up bridge four years ago, said: "I enjoy the game and thought I'd start up a club at school. There are sports and music clubs already and I thought this would be something a bit different.

"Then I saw the English Bridge Union was offering support for teachers and schools, so I organised an Inset training day at school."

The EBU has been offering free training sessions since it received a donation from the Milton Damerel Trust last year. Between 100 and 200 schools are believed to have taken up Minibridge and it has proved very popular in the North West, particularly in Manchester.

Students at Pembury School are equally enthusiastic about the game. "I usually win when I play," says eight-year-old Jason Best. "I like that it involves numbers, so you are doing maths at the same time."

Harry Francis, also eight, said: "My parents think it's a very good game. I've taught them to play and they play with me and my brother, who is in Year 1. He's too young to play at school."

Ms Cole will take 16 pupils to the House of Lords next week to meet the All-Party Parliamentary Bridge Group.

The trip follows a visit from Lord Skelmersdale, a member of the parliamentary bridge group, who came at Ms Cole's invitation to the 400- pupil primary last summer.

"He was very competitive," said Ms Cole of Lord Skelmersdale's card- playing. "Like most bridge players, he wanted to win.

"The visit back is fantastic. It will be incredible for the children to go up there and see the House of Lords and the different people who play the game."

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