Whatever you’re looking to buy, whatever your budget and requirements, there are some features that all education furniture should have in common, and which you should look for in your procurement journey:
- Safety: Number one priority, without a doubt, is safety. Furniture for educational environments needs to be stable and safe for students to use, particularly for younger children. Chairs should not tip back easily, shelves should be sturdy and not feature finger pinching gaps. Furniture with moving parts should be easy to manoeuvre and lightweight to avoid hands and fingers getting stuck.
- Durability: With many schools on increasingly limited budgets, buying furniture that’s built to last is a real necessity these days. Year after year, your chairs, tables and storage units will be put through the mill by hordes of students, so buying something robust and easy to maintain is crucial. Look for wipe clean surfaces, non-marking materials and solid, well-built products.
- Flexibility: Smaller, more manoeuvrable chairs and tables allow greater flexibility in terms of classroom layout and flexibility. Think about the different activities you plan to undertake, the different ways in which your spaces are used, and choose furniture which allows freedom of movement and simple storage, so you can change and vary the layout at will.
- Ergonomics: No matter the age of your students, care should be taken to purchase the right sized furniture for their height. Chairs and tables are particularly crucial, as working at a station which is too small or too big can cause long lasting problems with posture and damage to their backs.
- Price: As part of your procurement process, you’re going to need to ensure your school is getting great value for money. That usually doesn’t mean buying the cheapest thing available though, as this could result in poor quality products with short life spans. Try and balance costs with quality, and choose items that fit within your budget without compromising on any of the other essential features mentioned here.
Looking at every potential piece of furniture with these key issues in mind will help you narrow down your choices when purchasing classroom furniture.
The British and European Educational Furniture Standard
Over recent years, a new standard has been introduced relating to educational furniture. European Standard EN1729, last reviewed in 2015, specifies the functional dimensions and marketing for all tables, desks, stools and chairs to be used in an educational environment. The standard specifies the correct heights for desks and chairs for each stage of a child’s development, each of which is colour coded by its feet, which are:
- Size mark: 1. Age guide: 3-4. Foot colour code: Orange.
Chair seat height: 260mm. Table height: 460mm.
- Size mark: 2. Age guide: 4-6. Foot colour code: Violet.
Chair seat height: 310mm. Table height: 530mm.
- Size mark: 3. Age guide: 6-8. Foot colour code: Yellow.
Chair seat height: 350mm. Table height: 590mm.
- Size mark: 4. Age guide: 8-11. Foot colour code: Red.
Chair seat height: 380mm. Table height: 640mm.
- Size mark: 5. Age guide: 11-14. Foot colour code: Green.
Chair seat height: 430mm. Table height: 710mm.
- Size mark: 6. Age guide: 14+. Foot colour code: Blue.
Chair seat height: 460mm. Table height: 760mm.
The standard does not specify the design of tables or chairs, so you are still free to choose any colours, upholstering, design or features at will, but sticking to these sizes will ensure good posture and comfortable seating is promoted in your classroom. These don’t apply to specialist workstations or to desks for teaching staff.
For further information on choosing education furniture for your school, speak to one of our team. We can provide a wealth of knowledge on school furniture and which designs will fit your requirements.