Primary schools looking for classroom tables that offer ample space for computers or craft work will welcome a new range of furniture from the Department for Education and Employment.
1st Base offers multi-use tables for pupils who require a flat working surface for any number of subjects. This is a top-quality range, which is well designed so that it is extremely practical and looks good (pictured on previous page).
The table surface is 600 x 1200mm and has "add-ons" that enable staff to build up a work area for practical standing tasks and sitting activities. The tops of the legs are the main support of the pivoting arm and wire mesh which stops items from going over the back. They also support small plastic coloured tote bins for Lego etc. The table comes with well-made components which fit on to it - shelves, bins for storing small items, 240v power box, low-voltage wire management system. Pre-drilled locating holes can even be provided for a craft vice, small drawing board and mitring block. The add-ons work well and the colours look good.
In practical terms, the depth of the table from front to back is not very generous for computer applications, but the manufacturer, Morgan Grundy, says it is now modifying it.
The height of the table works well if pupils are standing using vices or doing light tasks, but it's not ideal for five- or six-year-olds sitting down. When I saw it being used for computer work, the feet of many younger children were not fully reaching the floor. What happens then is that circulation is cut off and the children begin to wriggle and cause a fuss.
Pupils play up when they are uncomfortable, so it's in the teacher's best interest to encourage good ergonomics which will encourage better posture. Ergonomics is now a marketing element of our European neighbours. Add a swivel chair and you are on the way to having a good combination for comfortable sitting.
Overall, though, this is a good, adaptable and flexible design, offering many different primary options.
The cost depends on the specifications and what add-ons are purchased, but ranges from Pounds 125 to Pounds 200. The table has been tested for normal levels of strength and stability and is currently undergoing more stringent tests.
* Morgan Grundy, Turbro Works, Gibraltar Street, Bolton BL3 5EP. Tel: 01204 383686. Stand C64