Southwold Primary School opened recently with big hopes for the future. Its new tables and chairs are built to international standards (ISO 5970-1979 E), dimensions which are slightly larger than British Standards.
The manufacturer, Marko, advocates this on the grounds that the slightly higher furniture encourages pupils to sit and work in the correct posture, in the hope of preventing back problems in later life.
The school itself was designed by Kevin White of W S Atkins Consultants and the tables and chairs were made by Marko in Holland and supplied by Morley's of Bicester. The cost of the total project was approximately Pounds 1million and was funded by Oxfordshire Education Department.
The furniture is attractive and well designed and seems very robust. Marko intends to test it to the UK educational standard (BS 5873 parts 2 and 3) for strength and stability. The larger tables allow pupils to spread out their work, which is helpful when children are working in groups. The cost of the table and chairs is significantly higher than the UK alternative, but staff at Southwold Primary say the environment created is friendly and supportive and, what's more, it looks good.
Southwold County Primary School, Holm Way, Southwold, Bicester OX6 9UU. Tel: 01869 324061.