YOUNGSTERS at a primary school in Great Lever are becoming masters at problem solving.

And it’s not just traditional lessons which are helping youngsters develop these essential skills.

Alongside their maths, English and other classes, year four pupils at SS Simon and Jude CE Primary School are having lessons in how to play the ancient game of chess.

Year four teacher Nicola Whitehouse said: “It is helping them to develop their cognitive skills. The children are becoming critical thinkers, better problem solvers and more independent decision makers.”

The game is said to be making a comeback in primary schools with 175 UK schools putting chess on the curriculum — 30 years after it was all but wiped out in state schools.

And every Thursday Andrew Wilson, from charity Chess in Schools, visits SS Simon and Jude as well as other schools in Bolton to take both year four classes.

This week they got to grips with the en passant rule.

Mr Wilson said: “The game helps children’s concentration and to think strategically.

“It is about applying knowledge to solve problems. In Bolton we have the example of Nigel Short and the backbone of the Greater Manchester Junior Chess Team was made up of young people in Bolton.”

The amateur chess player says that the children are at the perfect age to be introduced to the game.

“There are some talented players,” said Mr Wilson, who reckons the next step is to enter some of the young chess players in competitions.

Mrs Whitehouse said the skills the children develop through playing chess can be used in other more traditional lessons.

And children are enjoying it so much that some have asked for chess sets for Christmas.

Ethan Pope, aged nine, said: “I enjoy playing chess, it is a fun way of helping develop your thinking skills.

“When we heard that we would be playing chess in school I was excited and it is very interesting.”