30 August, 2008


When they were building the Old Castlemaine Gaol 150-odd years ago, nobody thought the place would one day be filled with young schoolchildren doing battle over chess boards.

Monday 15TH September sees the third annual Mt. Alexander Cluster Schools Chess Tournament at the iconic Castlemaine landmark.

It is expected 300 primary school students will converge on the venue, including first-timers from St.Mary’s Primary School (Castlemaine), and a group venturing over from the Maryborough Education Centre.

Other primary schools represented include Winters Flat , Campbells Creek, Yapeen, Guildford, Elphinstone, Taradale Chewton, Castlemaine Primary, Castlemaine North, Harcourt Valley, Maldon, and Newstead.

The event is the culmination of a program run by schools in the Mt. Alexander cluster that sees tutors from the local community venture into classrooms delivering the finer points of chess during term2 &3.

Program convenor, Harry Pouton says: “It’s a successful partnership between the tutors and the classroom teachers”.

Research conducted by James Cook University indicates students take their classroom skills into the home and that facilitates chess play within the family.

From an education perspective the program has a number of benefits. It fosters effective links that strengthen the partnership with home and school.

Among other things, the passion and expertise of the tutors has an enabling effect on student learning, and combining the program with a numeracy focus has seen under-achieving students find success at school.

The program was invited last year to deliver a Keynote Presentation at an International Conference at Aberdeen University Scotland, where it was considered a unique and outstanding example of schools building social capital within their local communities.