Free Chess Sets for schools

Discussions regarding the 70,000 Free Chess Sets for Schools in England.
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andrew martin

Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by andrew martin » Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:47 am

I am interested to know what other people think of this project. It seems a massive undertaking.

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Gavin Strachan
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Re: Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by Gavin Strachan » Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:06 am

Calculates at about 10 chess sets per every school in England.
Last edited by Gavin Strachan on Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Bill Wilson

Re: Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by Bill Wilson » Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:35 am

Fanastic, Well Done.

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Nigel Wright
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Re: Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by Nigel Wright » Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:47 am

Good idea in principal, but my feeling is that a lot of schools are just going to throw away the sets they receive and it'll be a complete waste. However, for the schools that care it's a great thing. And it may spark a lot of interest within schools that haven't previously dabbled in chess, and tournaments such as the British Land UK Chess Challenge may see a huge boost in numbers for next year, which is a great thing, because I played in my last one of those last year, and the experience of spending a weekend in Leamington Spa for the National Final is something I wish upon all other young chess enthusiasts. So, thanks to the people responsible for this feat, and pray that it works!
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Re: Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by Charles W. Wood » Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:23 pm

Hi All

My first post and I get to waffle straight away.

Andrew Martin is right that this is a massive undertaking but no-one gets a chance like this ever. When Peter and Gerry contacted me about moving these sets and boards I didn't realise how big this was. Scale for everyone: a football pitch 6 foot deep in chess sets and boards, weighing 250+ tonne. The first mountain was haulage which has now been answered I all but detail, so the plan is to get the sets right to the front desk of every school (Using only sponsorship deals from Hauliers) without any invovlement from the associations and Unions; reason: chess players should be there for the chess bits not for moving sets and boards around.

Every school: this means every Primary, Secondry, SEN and Middle school across England.

How do you encourage schools to play chess when we've been trying for years without success?: The problem with state schools is they have change massively over the last 20 years. Once state schools where just a poorer copy of independant schools, now state schools run differently. Teachers have too many demands on their time to be able to help in many cases, the governments have recognised this and made state schools run so teachers educate and other agencies deliver extra curricular activities in the schools. This project is being supported by these people, the only way we could get into these schools is due to the Every Child Matters policy we have conform with; we used the certification programme to open them agencies doors, that worked. It was harder than any can imagine, every time we check we had everything covered something else came up, now the Renaissance Academy Certification Programme is Ratified, inline with the Duke of Edinburgh Award, modular, 50% vocational, 50% academic and will develop into a qualification in its own right by September. All but one area in England's schools agencies has agreed to deliver chess to as many schools as can be done using the Certification Programme. Over the last 2 months we have contacted as many associations as possible about how to help in the schools once they start opening the doors, thats where the biggest problem is. We have the sets and boards, we have the schools and students, we now need to have coaches opperating under the control of the counties so that the county association's Child Protection Policy with cover them and the county association's Pulbic Liability Insurance is covering them too.

So to some up, sets and boards are going to the schools (them deals are done) the agencies are ready to roll out chess in them schools BUT the coaches can't go in until we match the legal requirements the councils now need. N.B.: to go into any state school as a coach you should be covered by at least £5million worth of cover and have a CRB check and Child Protection Policy.

My Renaissance Academy has £15m just for the coaches in Bradford and to cover the 6 events we run, but that is a slight case of over bombing as Bradford MDC only ask for £10m coverage in their schools, Our Child Protection Policy is Audited annualy and all coaches put forward from the Renaissance Academy to Bradford MDC have their CRB's checked by the board before we can put them forward. I believe this is the law as of the 1st April 2008 any way. Because the Renaissance Academy is set up similar to the ECF (Ltd compamy on a membership basis) we can not associate with any organisation who has not got their Child Protection policy up to date. This is where because none of the sporting bodies demanded this the government has done it in stead, and made it law.

I'm sure you'll have loads of questions (don't point out my poor grammar and spelling because I don't care :lol: ) I'm a coach with the ECF so I'm on the list, so call me if you wish or post on here and we can debate to our hearts content.

Charles W.Wood
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Greg Breed
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Re: Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by Greg Breed » Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:26 pm

I wouldn't mind coaching kids in local schools - it might even help draft some in to my club :wink:
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andrew martin

Re: Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by andrew martin » Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:47 pm

One thing that hasn't been mentioned : by providing all this free equipment, what thought was given to chess retailers who are struggling to stay afloat and who partly rely on equipment sales for income? If you attack the fragile chess ecosystem, it will shortly break down.

I must admit that as The ECF manager of coaching I was very surprised to hear of this project only AFTER it had been announced on the ECF website, amazed in fact. Absolutely gobsmacked to be frank.

I would have sounded a note of caution privately, which I will sound publicly now, because I didnt get to voice an opinion. Isn't this project TOO ambitious ? Will it ever happen ?

My best guess at present is that SOME chess sets and boards will be distributed, maybe 5 % and then everyone will get sick of the logistics of the project, which I actually can't see have been very well thought through. According to the Marketing Director, Holloid Plastics will be making the sets IN SPARE TIME AT WEEKENDS......

How long then,is it going to take them to produce all the sets ? What is the timeframe? Is there a timeframe ? What design are these sets. I hear now it is a special design.

Once Holloid Plastics have received the initial blaze of publicity, will the motivation be there for them to complete?

If the whole project works, I will have nothing but respect and admiration for those who have worked on it and who have carried it through. It will be a feather in the cap of the Federation. I will also personally thank Holloid Plastics for the amazing offer.

But what happens if it is NOT carried through ? Despite all the propaganda and big words and of course the advertising, at this moment in time I find that more likely.


Andrew

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Re: Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by Charles W. Wood » Wed Feb 20, 2008 4:53 am

andrew martin wrote:One thing that hasn't been mentioned : by providing all this free equipment, what thought was given to chess retailers who are struggling to stay afloat and who partly rely on equipment sales for income? If you attack the fragile chess ecosystem, it will shortly break down.

I must admit that as The ECF manager of coaching I was very surprised to hear of this project only AFTER it had been announced on the ECF website, amazed in fact. Absolutely gobsmacked to be frank.

I would have sounded a note of caution privately, which I will sound publicly now, because I didnt get to voice an opinion. Isn't this project TOO ambitious ? Will it ever happen ?

My best guess at present is that SOME chess sets and boards will be distributed, maybe 5 % and then everyone will get sick of the logistics of the project, which I actually can't see have been very well thought through. According to the Marketing Director, Holloid Plastics will be making the sets IN SPARE TIME AT WEEKENDS......

How long then,is it going to take them to produce all the sets ? What is the timeframe? Is there a timeframe ? What design are these sets. I hear now it is a special design.

Once Holloid Plastics have received the initial blaze of publicity, will the motivation be there for them to complete?

If the whole project works, I will have nothing but respect and admiration for those who have worked on it and who have carried it through. It will be a feather in the cap of the Federation. I will also personally thank Holloid Plastics for the amazing offer.

But what happens if it is NOT carried through ? Despite all the propaganda and big words and of course the advertising, at this moment in time I find that more likely.


Andrew
The German polymath JW Goethe once said: "Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game."


I thought we'd start as we mean to go on.

Hi Andrew

Thanks for your comments. Firstly, I'm just as suprised that no-one has informed you of this project, my remit is to coordinate the sponsors at the start of all this. Then I work with the County Associations (that are interested) and LEA's to make sure they both can work together. My job is not to talk to the Directors, Managers and staff of the ECF. My biggest thought on this is that at some point you will be heavily involved later down the line as ECF Manager of Coaching.

Chess Retailers are rubbing their hands with glee at the moment, any of them with any sort of business nouce will have spotted that the whole market has just opened up 25,000 new named customers all wanting clocks, score sheets, books, dispay boards, software, and amazingly more sets and boards. Most of the super schools (anything over 1500 students) will have serveral groups setting up chess clubs, E.G.: IM Gary Kenworthy's old school has 60 kids playing chess and will be getting 10 free boards and sets, you do the maths. Most of these schools are going to set up leagues and tournaments so clocks will be very high on the agenda.

You also mention logistics, timeframe and motivation. Manufactured by Holloid Plastics Ltd from now until this time next year (5,000 to 6,000 sets and boards every weekend in their fully automated factory) Pallets moved up, across and down the country to distribution hubs by Fortec Pallet Distribution Network Ltd near Rugby, then delivered to the door of each and every school across England by a Parcel delivery company (yet to be named but we are close to a full country wide deal) over that year of manufacter. Holloid Plastics Ltd have given £2m worth of chess sets and boards (each set and board being worth £8 each roughly) Fortec Pallet Distribution Network Ltd haulage to the regional hubs is £1.4m of absorbed cost, local delivery to the schools door estimated at £2m of absorbed cost. Making this a very big project, so motivation; every council, MP, head teacher, chess association, LEA, commercial press will or does know about this project which puts alot of pressure on Holloid, Fortec and the third corporate sponsor to ensure the commitment donated (if all this did fall through there is a plan B and C) because if anyone backed out the bad press would crush a firm in such sensitive markets, manufacturing and haulage.

What happens if it does not work? The only question worth answering. State schools will not roll out chess en mass for a generation, England stays the poor third world chess country of Europe, Leagues keep shrinking and dying, 500,000 young people will never learn chess, ECF never reaches the status it deserves as governing body, areas of junior chess development stay the exeption and not the rule, chess retailers reduce in number, coaches start selling their skills abroad, chess never becomes a sport in England and most importantly the benefits of chess never reaches the poor, the under acheiving, dis advantaged and impaired at the level they will if this works. In fact every thing here is the exact opposite to what will happen if this works.

I have run many PRINCE2 (project management method) type projects in my time, this is definitely the most challenging and could have the biggest outcome. Alot of people want it not to happen or think it can't happen. The ECF is now a Limited company and has to be able to react to situations like this. The biggest problem is everyone in chess is quick to point the finger or scorn an idea, but do very little to help push it forward.

Lets get behind this, we need the chess community to pull together not the usual thing of pulling apart. For once lets all move in one direction, you'll be amazed what the outcome will be.
Charles W. Wood
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andrew martin

Re: Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by andrew martin » Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:28 am

So you are saying English Chess is going to fall apart if this doesn't work !? That's is an exaggeration.

I admire everyone who works unselfishly for chess in this country and I hope the project is 100% successful. I give it my FULL backing.

However, the phrase ' too good to be true' , is large in my head.

Prove me totally wrong please.

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Re: Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by Charles W. Wood » Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:59 am

andrew martin wrote:So you are saying English Chess is going to fall apart if this doesn't work !? That's is an exaggeration.

I admire everyone who works unselfishly for chess in this country and I hope the project is 100% successful. I give it my FULL backing.

However, the phrase ' too good to be true' , is large in my head.

Prove me totally wrong please.
English Chess has been slowly falling apart over the last few years, leagues getting 6-7 players less each year. You wanted to know what happened if "Chess for Schools" didn't happen, the point was the status quo continues, locally to me i've watched divisions fall from league structures over a period of 15 years and many other (not all) areas suffer the same problem.

"too good to be true" was something that popped into my head when I was first told about this (if I'm honest) along with "only London will get it" but if a Yorkshireman can have faith in an ECF project anyone can. I believe the ECF has become an organisation pointing in the right direction and can do this. I may look to be doing the donkey work at the minute but I'm not the ECF office is doing a huge amount of work, Gerry and Peter are doing everything they can to fill in any gaps. And further down the line when the logistics are sorted you and many others will be our greatest assets.

There must be more questions I'm quite enjoying this debate.
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Re: Chess for schools

Post by Charles W. Wood » Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:37 pm

Thank you to all of you who contacted me by phone, as you all know I have a complete open door way of thinking and just need you all to ask the questions about this project. The idea of this is to use "Chess for Schools" to heal old wounds, make "Adult" leagues stronger and develop chess in general. I have no affiliation to any sort of politics, my view is simple, make junior chess stronger, and help juniors become "Adult" league players. We are aiming for the young people who are not going to university as well as those who are. Only as Team England can we make this work, you are all important in this so pick up the phone, email me, or post right now here on this forum.

All and any (within the rules) questions are welcome.
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Paul Bailey
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Re: Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by Paul Bailey » Thu Feb 21, 2008 8:05 pm

Charles W. Wood wrote: So to sum up, sets and boards are going to the schools (them deals are done) the agencies are ready to roll out chess in them schools BUT the coaches can't go in until we match the legal requirements the councils now need. N.B.: to go into any state school as a coach you should be covered by at least £5million worth of cover and have a CRB check and Child Protection Policy.
Hi Charles

We met the other week in Sheffield. Firstly I have to say I'm very enthusiastic about the potential of this BUT after the meeting there were real concerns about how we were going to stop these sets sitting gathering dust in a cupboard. The questions below might not be particularly well framed but I wanted to get the ball rolling:

1. How many adults would be needed to run a club?
2. When would it run?
3. Where would it run? (You mentioned clusters of Extended Schools at our meeting)
4. Who would run it?

As you say teachers are generally too busy, but school hours mean that anyone employed in a regular 9-5 slot would not be available either, and parents may well have other kids to consider. I think kids enjoy playing chess, they've now got the equipment - but where is the manpower? How is that part of the project going to be managed? Who is going to coach the kids? I really really want this to work and I find the scepticism, or is it cynicism?, in other posts in this thread disheartening/bewildering but there are hurdles to be overcome.

Regards

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Re: Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by Nigel Wright » Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:06 am

I find any negativity necesary and in most cases absolutely essential, when doing anything, as it then allows for better planning to try and overcome any negative aspects. I like the whole idea in general, but I'm a bit shocked at how little notice was given to the general chess-playing public about this scheme, and the fact that we weren't able to debate the idea and iron out any potential flaws before it went ahead. There are some major issues mentioned above, for example, man-power, and the huge scale of the scheme, that probably should have been openly debated about. Good luck anyway...
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Charles W. Wood
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Re: Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by Charles W. Wood » Fri Feb 22, 2008 11:02 am

Paul Bailey wrote:
Charles W. Wood wrote: So to sum up, sets and boards are going to the schools (them deals are done) the agencies are ready to roll out chess in them schools BUT the coaches can't go in until we match the legal requirements the councils now need. N.B.: to go into any state school as a coach you should be covered by at least £5million worth of cover and have a CRB check and Child Protection Policy.
Hi Charles

We met the other week in Sheffield. Firstly I have to say I'm very enthusiastic about the potential of this BUT after the meeting there were real concerns about how we were going to stop these sets sitting gathering dust in a cupboard. The questions below might not be particularly well framed but I wanted to get the ball rolling:

1. How many adults would be needed to run a club?
2. When would it run?
3. Where would it run? (You mentioned clusters of Extended Schools at our meeting)
4. Who would run it?

As you say teachers are generally too busy, but school hours mean that anyone employed in a regular 9-5 slot would not be available either, and parents may well have other kids to consider. I think kids enjoy playing chess, they've now got the equipment - but where is the manpower? How is that part of the project going to be managed? Who is going to coach the kids? I really really want this to work and I find the scepticism, or is it cynicism?, in other posts in this thread disheartening/bewildering but there are hurdles to be overcome.

Regards
Its a very strange area, as different Council Agencies and different Chess Leagues work very differently compared to the ajoining area. Lets stick to an areas you know as your from the Sheffield area: take junior development in Yorkshire compared to Lancashire, at the minute in Yorkshire coaches are very seperate from the County Association and their local City-wide Chess Association; in Lancashire most coaches work through or around the main committee, and academies work together with the committee to make a successful junior calendar. The Council LEA agencies are the same: in one Borough of London there is only 5 members of extra curricular staff and 65 schools, in the next Borough there is 26 extra curricular staff covering 82 schools. So what I'm trying to say is we have to make our "Hand" fit their "Glove" and visa versa.

Your Questions answered as best I can,
1. Q. How many adults would be needed to run a club? Ans: At least one (see 4).
2. Q. When would it run? Ans: Whenever the agencies want to run it, but if theres outside help from the league coming in the agencies will work with the coaches. (here is two of the many models used so far: 1. schools chess club is run by the school support staff (1 person) on a lunch time/after school aimed at the Under Achievers, they take part in tournaments and schools league run by the local league at a distance, when they have a rising star they encourage them to a Monday evening training night run by a league chess coach starting at 7pm finishing at 9pm, and then on into the "Adult" League; 2. Coaches/activist trains the kids at their local school at 3pm every Wednesday the coach then encourages the students into the right events for their level as he knows them better. So in short we have to adapt whatever you have available in the way of coaching and however the local agencies want to do it.
3. Q. Where would it run? Ans: see 2.
4. Q. Who would run it? Ans: see 2. with addition the agencies are doing this with or without us, LEA's can still get information from the ECF direct and have the ablility to get outside coaches in if need be. In direct answer to 4. I have worked with, a policeman, Probation service worker, Duke of Edinburgh Award Worker, School Gov, Extended Schools WorkerS, Youth Service WorkerS, Young People Support Unit worker, Support staff from School, a Librarian, Parents, even an MP BUT I have yet to work with a teacher, state schools don't work like, thats why we get no answer from many of them.

Having said all that all this is academic as leagues keep looking at whats coming more than what they need to do now to be able to help in the first place, one league mentioned to me that asking its members to do CRB checks was a slure on them, (which century!?!), The four big items that need to be in place are Public Liability Insurance, a fully audited Child Protection policy (the ECF has one and so does the Renaissance Academy), to take responsibility for the coaches put forward to help, and to sign up and run the certification programme. Then all the rest of the questions fall heavily into place. From a personal point of view, due to Sheffield and Rotherham councils both wanting a 100% roll about accross their schools so in your area it would probably be more about advising, mentoring and up-skilling the people who running clubs rather than coaching the young people direct until the councils can organise the coaches/activist in a way that both sides can work with.

Cheers mate loved that question. :D
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Re: Free Chess Sets for schools

Post by Charles W. Wood » Fri Feb 22, 2008 11:25 am

Nigel Wright wrote:I find any negativity necesary and in most cases absolutely essential, when doing anything, as it then allows for better planning to try and overcome any negative aspects. I like the whole idea in general, but I'm a bit shocked at how little notice was given to the general chess-playing public about this scheme, and the fact that we weren't able to debate the idea and iron out any potential flaws before it went ahead. There are some major issues mentioned above, for example, man-power, and the huge scale of the scheme, that probably should have been openly debated about. Good luck anyway...
Negativity shows dis trust, something that happy bogs down development in many areas accross the UK, especailly chess. Nearly all the 40+ county leagues have been contacted in some shape or form acroos England and nearly all the councils are up to speed as well. Timescale is a bit fast due mostly to exactly that, timescale.
Heres the problem and may be you can kick us off with your own idea (I'd be interested in your ideas):
1. How to move 250,000 chess boards produced over one year in a factory with no storage space? (a football pitch 6 foot deep in chess sets or 250 1 tonne pallets)
2. How to get them to every schools door, without any going to the wrong place?
3. How to get the take up rate in state schools from 5-10% (as IM Andrew M rightly pointed out) to 90-95%?
4. How to get 25,000 schools the right coaching with only a hand full of coaches?
5. How to make the project have a possitive effect on the "Adult" Leagues?

I look forward to seeing how you would of handled this.

Regards
Charles W. Wood
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