Top 10 tips for buying school furniture

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We consider schools’ duty of care in the 21st-century learning environment based on ICT safety and internet safety. A school’s responsibility is to ensure that students are comfortable in their seats and have the right size chairs. Sitting comfortably is a better way to focus and be more attentive.

All schools should purchase furniture that is educationally stimulating and safe for their children’s health. Many headteachers face challenges when making the right investments because of the many factors in purchasing furniture.

Schools must take into account the following 10 areas when buying classroom furniture.

Standard BSEN 1729

The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) Furniture Group has successfully promoted the introduction of BSEN1729, a British Standard for Classroom Furniture. This standard ensures that school furniture is properly shaped, sized, and designed to help children focus on learning and prevents long-term injury to their backs.

Safety and health

Research has shown that furniture designed for high quality and well-designed children improves their concentration, reduces misbehaviour, and leads to better learning outcomes. It is worth the effort to ensure your students are happy. The British Standard for School Furniture, as mentioned above, should not be considered mandatory. Schools should ensure that their suppliers comply with these standards to ensure that all pupils have the opportunity to learn in a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable environment.

Ergonomics

Bad choice of chair can cause back pain. The height of the chair should be equal to that of the table.

British Standard guidelines are followed by quality manufacturers who will calculate the optimal distance between the chair and the table to provide maximum comfort and ergonomic benefits to the pupil.

Research from the 1990s shows that furniture for children was designed based on children’s average height in the 1960s. Children were shorter then. According to the British Standard guidelines, schools should purchase furniture appropriate for the size and age of the children who will be using it. These sizes are available in six different sizes, which are listed below.

  • Size mark: 1. Age guide: 3-4 Foot colour code is Orange. Height of the chair seat: 260mm Table height: 460mm
  • Size limit: 2. Age guide: 4-6 Foot colour code is Violet. Height of the chair seat: 310mm Table height: 530mm
  • Size mark: 3. Age guide: 6-8 Foot colour code is Yellow. Seat height for a chair: 350mm Table height: 590mm
  • Size limit: 4. Age guide: 8-11 Color code for the foot: Red. Height of the chair seat: 380mm Table height: 640mm
  • Size limit: 5. Age guide: 11-14 Foot colour code: Green. Height of the chair seat: 430mm Table height: 710mm
  • Size mark: 6. Age guide: 14+ Blue is the foot colour code. Height of the chair seat: 460mm Table height: 760mm

Mobility and functionality

Most products can be used indoors or outdoors.

Most outdoor furniture will be fixed to the floor to prevent theft. Some suppliers offer freestanding furniture that can be ordered with casters to allow for mobile use.

Mobility is essential in the classroom because class dynamics change constantly. Teachers should be able adapt the room layout and environment as children learn and develop, and not need to call maintenance staff.

Furniture should be modular and have the ability to be mobile or stationary. Schools often hold regular meetings to exchange observations about the children’s use of the equipment and classroom environment.

Aftercare and servicing

Most furniture suppliers work directly with client schools and manufacture and deliver their products from their headquarters. Many companies also sell their products through third-party resellers. No matter who supplies the product, the manufacturer guarantees will apply.

Schools may get better deals if they deal directly with the manufacturer, as they have to provide a financial margin for any reseller. The knowledge and experience complement this that furniture manufacturers have in determining the best configurations and products for schools.

Furniture manufacturers who are quality will offer after-care services and warranties. BESA members that are furniture manufacturers offer warranties and after-care services for up to 25 years. If a company stands behind its equipment, it will offer a warranty. It will also have a tracking system to identify all goods in the field if a customer calls with a question. After-care services include phone and email support, visits to the field if needed, product training, operation, and maintenance.

Value for money

Although some budget furniture on the high streets may seem more affordable than school furniture, it must be durable enough to withstand classroom demands. Whole life cycle costs are important in today’s economic climate. Take a look at case studies from the supplier and, if the investment is large, speak to schools that have used the equipment to learn their opinions about the furniture.

Durability and strength

The product may not be able to withstand the high-impact classroom environment and stress it is subject to. This could lead to a shorter life span and higher costs. A warranty can be a reliable indicator of durability. Many BESA members offer a 10-year warranty. Company history can also be an important quality to evaluate a supplier.

Fit-for-purpose

Before you make a purchase decision, it is important to know where and how the furniture will end up being used. Your school will need furniture that can be used indoors or outdoors. Make sure your supplier has the right expertise. Outdoor use requires materials such as MDF that is resistant to moisture, powder coated paintwork of architectural quality, and UV-stabilized plastics.

Furniture can be creatively used

It is important to think creatively about how you might use certain items to divide work areas for students or staff members.

BESA member organizations

BESA is a membership organization that represents many of the UK’s top school furniture suppliers. It is dedicated to improving safety and quality of school furniture. A BESA member can ensure that you receive high-quality furniture and excellent customer service.

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