OVERVIEW OF BRIDGE IN SCHOOLS IN BERKS, BUCKS AND OXON.
There are currently 600 children playing Bridge in 40 schools in Berks, Bucks and Oxon.
Bridge has been played in schools for many years but until recently people teaching Bridge in schools have mostly operated in isolation. In 2009 local bridge players started to help and encourage each other by providing training programmes. The number of participating children increased rapidly as the number of volunteers grew. This increased participation has meant that we have been able to reintroduce competitions at a local level, which are greatly enjoyed by the children.
The majority of schools are rural primaries, reflecting the fact that we are ‘shires’, and many of our volunteers have an emotional attachment to the school where they run the bridge club. The number of secondary schools is increasing as ‘our children’ move on and wish to continue playing. Similarly, the number of children playing bridge as opposed to minibridge continues to rise.
We realise that as devotees of the game we may be biased, but the pleasure of playing the best card game in the world with your schoolmates is very clear. The sessions can be noisy but very cheerful showing all the advantages of the social and partnership aspects of the game. The Bridge clubs are run either as 30 minute lunchtime sessions or as 45+minutes as an after school club, by agreement with the schools. Bridge clubs are very popular with headteachers and Ofsted inspectors.
We have been very fortunate as a group in obtaining a lottery grant through the Chiltern League together with computer dealing boards and cards. We now own over 2000 boards complete with cards. Fortunately most of these are in use by the volunteers or there would be a serious storage problem. Additional funding has come from the County Bridge Associations in Oxfordshire, Berks and Bucks and from The English Bridge Union. These funds enable us to train our volunteers, and underwrite our competitions.
We are all delighted by the fact that so many children have been introduced to Bridge, and hope that the numbers will continue to grow, and the skill level to increase. The desire to learn Bridge is not confined to the children. We are being approached by their teachers who want to learn, and are pointing them towards adult classes. We believe that the game itself is undergoing a welcome and deserved resurgence of interest.