Chase High School, in Westcliff, offers young people the opportunity to indulge in gaming and games design through its unique curriculum and extra-curricular clubs.
Since 2021, the school has been giving students the chance to take part in eSports where they play competitive digital games, such as Rocket League and Overwatch 2.
The most successful are invited to join the school’s eSports team and compete in national competitions.
Since setting up the eSports lab with three purpose-built computers, the interest in the club, which is held twice a week, has grown rapidly
Now, thanks to a donation from Every Child Online, the club has been expanded to cater for all students in Year 7 to sixth form who want to get involved
Melanie Hall, subject leader for computing, said: “We have always been very passionate about the games development courses that we offer in Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5. The courses are popular with our students and interest in the sector grows year on year.
“The positive impact we witnessed on student motivation and progress in our lessons was significant. Not only did the club motivate students, but it provided an opportunity for them to forge new friendships, increase in confidence, and it helped to improve their teamwork and problem-solving skills.”
The Every Child Online charity works with businesses to repurpose their old computer equipment to be used by schools and families in need.
Mike Tarbard, from the charity, visited the school and fitted out an entire classroom with hi-spec gaming computers, as well as donating VR headsets and laptops to be used across the curriculum.
Mrs Hall said: “This has made an enormous difference to our students, giving many more an opportunity to experience something that would not be accessible to them otherwise. Esports is growing into a huge industry, but even just taking part has so many benefits.
““Students tell us it is the highlight of their week. It has been amazing to see the development of teamworking, problem-solving and communication skills as they compete with each other on the games.
“EveryChildOnline has allowed us to open up pathways for our students that would not have otherwise been open to them. By taking part in eSports, being able to study games development from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 5, having the chance to use VR technology and have hands-on experience with a wide variety of devices, our students are able to broaden their horizons further than ever before.”
The school was one of just two in the area to achieve Digital Schoolhouse status last summer, giving students a unique link to the games development industry.
As a Digital Schoolhouse, teachers have access to resources and free training, as well as direct links to the UK video games industry to support games development students.
Digital Schoolhouse uses play-based learning to engage young people with the computing curriculum. https://www.digitalschoolhouse.org.uk/