August 2018 English Bridge
www.ebu.co.uk BRIDGE IN THE CURRICULUM
n a significant move for English bridge, and a
first for Surrey, Claremont Fan Court School
has adopted bridge as part of the academic
curriculum. Head of Claremont's Prep School, Mrs
Helen Attenborough, introduced bridge in
September 2017. The private school, for children
aged 7-11, now has a weekly curriculum lesson, led
by school teacher Deb Casey, teaching MiniBridge
to year five pupils (aged 9-10). There's also a
separate lunchtime club, led by Meena Samani, and
open to all. Tim Warren, Youth Officer for Surrey
CBA, spoke to Mrs Attenborough, to find out what
attracted her to teaching bridge.
TW: You've said you love card games yourself - did
you play them as a child?
HA: Oh, yes, lots! The first one I remember is
learning crib: my father played the game with friends,
and brought me into it as soon as I was old enough to
hold the cards and understand what was happening.
(My parents also played bridge at home, but alas I
missed out on that one…) I'm a scientist - my
background is in mathematics and technology - and I
know that cards did as much as anything else to
underpin my sense of number.
TW: What made you want to bring bridge into the
HA: Card games help children learn numbers and
develop memory skills, and the children get to a stage
where they have to work out probabilities, for
instance, even if we don't call it that at the time.
But the benefits are much deeper and more
important. I believe strongly in 'stealth learning' teaching
children without them realising they're being
taught; you might also call it the invisible ink of
education, where 'soft' life skills are acquired through
the experience of learning. Card games are an
excellent way of having fun, but while you're playing,
you're learning, too: how to collaborate as a team,
how to think about things from other people's point of
view, how to make a plan, and rethink that plan if it
doesn't work out the way you expected; in other words,
perseverance. All these things help develop your social
interaction skills. There's considerable emphasis now
on supporting the mental and emotional well-being of
children, and bridge helps here, too; we promote
competition, certainly, but within a healthy
atmosphere and a non-threatening environment.
Our school has a strong ethos, and we place
importance on developing the character of our pupils.
Having to think more broadly than just themselves
helps the children develop their sense of values, and
become well-rounded individuals; it contributes to the
kind of person they are. We might not make that
learning objective explicit in the bridge sessions, but
it's very much there.
Bridge enables a broader range of children to
represent their school. Not everyone is sporty, and not
everyone's outgoing and able to interact with others as
confidently as they might. Don't underestimate how
children can come out of themselves and grow in
stature, as they find that they, too, are good enough to
be selected for a team.
Overall, bridge brings a greater richness to the
TW: How might county associations like ours help
you make the most of bridge?
HA: Schools are always on the lookout for good
sessions for INSET days. Why not design and run one
on teaching bridge? I already know how good the
game is as a learning aid, and you could use such a
session to introduce it to other schools.
If you would like to introduce bridge
successfully in schools, please contact EBEDfirstname.lastname@example.org; Youth Officer, David Emerson, on
01296 317228 or email@example.com.