LOUISE is a newly-qualified teacher in a 320-pupil junior school that has operated flexible seating arrangements for some years.
She has a ground-floor classroom with access to a corridor. Three tables are set up in the corridor so that the shared classroom assistant can work with groups of pupils or individuals.
Louise has two basic layouts for her Year 3 class of 26 children. Layout A (see diagram) is used for all paired and individual work, as well as some whole-class teaching, and is in the form of a double horseshoe. There is enough space between the two U-shapes for her to move around comfortably and work in front of or behind any child who needs help.
The size of the classroom, and the fact that it is carpetd, means that she can have all the children on the floor in front of the tables, regardless of the seating arrangement. Louise is also able to keep a set of tables positioned to one side of the classroom as a focus group table which is used for intensive teacher-pupil groupwork. This arrangement is used most of the time.
Layout B (see diagram) is preferred for collaborative work in science, history and geography and some technology activities. Some tables are moved to form five grouped sets. This is usually done just before break or lunch.
In each arrangement the teacher allocates seats. Six children, acting as monitors, move the tables.The monitors take about 60 seconds to move the tables from Layout A to B.