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When generations compare furniture from their early school and University experiences, they’re bound to find that not too much has changed. Whiteboards may have replaced chalkboards in many classrooms, but desks remain in every room, and so, too, do plastic chairs.
These staples of the education facility experience are unlikely to change drastically, but on closer inspection, the functionality of these items has. Ergonomics, thank goodness, are a top priority, and versatility now trumps practicality. While the furniture may look very similar, the way it is designed and used is always changing to match the needs of both teacher and student.
Education furniture trends for 2021 and beyond
Considering the momentous changes to work and learning in 2020 and into 2021, the trends for education furniture have become much more “must-have” than any trends before.
Whether social distancing stays with us long-term or not, classroom dynamics may be forever altered. Teachers and students learned that distance education was possible (even if not usually desirable), and this means that it could stay as an option moving forward.
Flexible seating and classroom customisation first allows education facilities to adhere to social distancing requirements and, long term, offers the ability for classrooms to be built for purpose. With movable furniture, educators can bring stations together for collaborative work and keep them apart when privacy is required. They can scale up or down as required.
Adaptable furniture allows educators and students to do more with less. Examples may be tilt tables that double as a desk and a whiteboard with erasable tops that can be flipped up to present on. It could also refer to furniture that helps with classroom customisation. Such as desks which can be moved to be for single students or arranged for collaboration.
Planning classrooms or common spaces with adaptable furniture means using less to get better outcomes. For small spaces and tight budgets, this a smart consideration that has big benefits.
With learning bound to continue online, private spaces for students becomes all the more important. It’s likely we will see hybrids of on-campus/online learning, and there needs to be space for students to be doing both while there. Privacy pods or nooks are a great way to give students privacy.
Whether it’s used for individual study, online learning, or simply taking a break to refresh their mind, these spaces can help to boost productivity and wellbeing.
Inclusive seating options
Educators today understand well the neurodiversity of students and how important it is to provide spaces that allow each student to thrive. In some cases, simply offering furniture, like stools and rocking chairs, allows students to stimulate themselves – by rocking, for example – when they get fidgety, without it disrupting their learning.
Soft seating like beanbags and lounges is also a great option for those who are tactile and even for students who just need a change of seating to keep them engaged and motivated.
Ample space for storage
While classroom designs haven’t changed too much, the amount of electronics lying around the classroom definitely has. To avoid tripping hazards, any school refurbishments should consider storage units a top priority.
Whether base units or wall units, making space to organise and get easy access to electronics, and all the cords that connect them, can go a long way in smoothly running through classes. You can never have enough storage space.
Trends in education furniture – where to find out more
For your more permanent fitted furniture solutions – worktops, wall units, storage trays, and more – David Bailey Furniture is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers, ready to help you build education facilities equipped for 2021 and beyond. Read case studies of our furniture installations at schools and other education facilities. Or get in touch with us to discuss how we can help with your refurbishment or new build project.