The classroom computer can no longer be tucked away in a corner and largely ignored. Now that it plays an essential role in delivering the curriculum it needs to be easily accessible at all times and, fortunately, there is a wide range of furniture specifically designed to accommodate all your technology resources and help the children to work in the best way possible
Many classrooms do not have space for wholly designated computer areas and the concept of placing the computer next to the bookshelves, so that it becomes part of the information retrieval or quiet work area, rather than a focus for children who are off-task and wandering around, is a sound one. Heron's Book and Computer LinkUp is part of the company's ComputerBook System and includes two small and two medium frames, two double-sided shelves and display shelves, a Kinderbox, open shelf and computer worktop with stabilising feet. The unit pictured above measures 250 x 76 x 130 cm, price pound;359. Longer computer stations, tables, monitor stands and cupboards are available.
Another way of making the most of space is to provide continuous surfacing around the edges of the classroom. Hostess Furniture's CirKit system includes base tables, plus corner and add-on units. It is available in different heights, including 650 mm for primary school use, and in beech veneer, beech and ailsa laminates. The frames are availale in charcoal, red, blue and green, or you can discuss different colours with them. They cost from pound;217 for an 'L' shape measuring 2 x 2 m.
Computers will eventually become less 'industrial' in appearance, but in the meantime if you are looking to 'soften' the IT working area you might want to consider Galt's new Junior Computer Workstation. Made from bright blue, wipe-clean, vinyl-faced MDF and beech effect MFC, it includes two shelves for the computer, hard drive, keyboard and printer with a shutter that can be pulled down over the hard drive and locked for security. A lockable cupboard with shelf and wire book stays forms the back of the workstation and there is bench seat which tucks away when not in use on a special bracket underneath. The workstation measures 93 x 74.5 x 81 cm, priced pound;219.95.
LFC stocks adjustable height work centres on lockable castors. The work centre is 762 mm wide and can be easily altered between 508 - 635 mm high. It is available in grey with a choice of trim in green, burgundy, blue or grey, priced from pound;189.99.
It is a great advantage if the position of the computer can be varied. EFM's computer table has locking castors and is designed to be moved easily to different locations. The table has an attached upper shelf for printer and screen and large lower table for keyboard, hard drive and work materials. The table is available in a range of heights and comes with grey tops and red frames, priced approximately pound;125.
Asco's computer desktrolley also has lockable castors, a rounded safety rail to prevent equipment being knocked off and a lower shelf for printer. The trolley measures 85 x 66 x 86 cm, priced pound;97.50.
Health and Safety
Now computers are part of the everyday learning experience more attention needs to be paid to the welfare of the children who are using the equipment. Worksurfaces and tables must be at the correct height to avoid back strain and ensure children do not have to lean over or sit too close to the screen. Four Oaks Indesk computer furniture takes account of these issues because the work surface has a sunken box covered by toughened glass which houses the computer, so children can look down at the screen and the keypad without moving their necks. And because the screen is covered, 95 per cent of the radiation is screened. The system is delivered ready assembled; a unit with 300 mm pedestal, measuring 700 x 800 mm, costs pound;499.
Computers are probably the items most frequently stolen from schools and some of the most expensive to insure and replace. Ensuring your equipment remains on the premises and undamaged will pay obvious dividends. Diamik stocks ready-assembled security centres which are easily screwed to the floor. They come with a spring-loaded action door and will fit all standard Diamik computer workstations. They have a double locking facility for extra security and are available in a selection of colours. The centres measure 1200 x750 x 1205 mm (measure your doorways before ordering a ready assembled unit!), priced pound;250.
The Diamik workstation shown with the security centre comes in infant and junior heights and costs from pound;114.
Woodpecker Products stocks floor fixed security cabinets with an optional shelf so that the cabinet can be used as a work station. The cabinet measures 1420 x 1128 x 700 mm, and comes with two padlocks, floor fixings and instructions, priced pound;352.80, optional shelf, priced pound;31.50. Woodpecker also specialises in a unit called The Combination which is an integral trolley and steel cabinet with shelf, measuring from 500 x 1000 x 700 mm. The unit includes two padlocks, shelf and support, price pound;396.
Asco, 19 Lockwood Way, Parkside Lane, Leeds LS11 5TH (0113 2707070, fax 0113 2775585).
Diamik Quality Furniture, Diamik House, Cross Green Garth, Leeds LS9 0SF (0113 248 6688, fax 0113 248 3888).
EFM-Chesterfield, Grove Road, Whittington Moor, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S41 8LN (01246 455191, fax 01246 260221).
Four Oaks Design Ltd, Unit C, Riverside Estate, Fazeley, Tamworth, Staffordshire B78 3RW (0800 7839807, freefax 0800 7839808).
Galt Educational, Culvert Street, Oldham, Lancashire OL4 2GE(0161 627 5086, FAX 0161 627 1543)
Heron Educational Ltd, Carrwood House, Carrwood Road, Chesterfield S41 9QB (01246 453354, fax 01246 260876).
Hostess Furniture, Vulcan Road, Bilston, West Midlands WV14 7JR (01902 493681, fax 01902 353185).
LFC, Freepost, Phoenix House, Denington Road, Wellingborough NN8 2BR (0800 616621, fax 0800 616629).
Woodpecker Products, Unit B18, Little Heath Industrial Estate, Old Church Road, Coventry CV6 7NB (01203 638246, fax 01203 638508).