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August 2018 English Bridge 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 oneā€¦) 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 EBED'; Youth Officer, David Emerson, on

01296 317228 or


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