Furniture for focus

Benedict Primary School

When the Foundation stage staff at Benedict Primary School moved their class into spacious new accommodation, they found that the open spaces affected their children’s focus. They utilized the Community Playthings room layout service, and with new furniture now have their room divided into smaller focus areas. Staff say that the improvement to children’s behaviour and concentration has been amazing!

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My name is Judy Hills and I'm the foundation stage leader here at Benedict. The school is a primary school here in South London. We have children throughout the school, age three up to age eleven. Here in the foundation stage unit, which is a separate building, we have approximately 99 children. We are going from one form entry school to a two form entry school.

Approximately two years ago we moved into a purpose built early years unit, a large open space made up of five hexagonal pods. When we moved into the new building, we didn't buy any new furniture. We've brought all the furniture from the old building and it was a bit of a mismatch and we found we had problems with that in terms of the behaviour of the children. I had heard of Community Playthings through a couple of other teachers in the area of London where I work and they had said how wonderful Community Playthings were in solving the problem of making thoroughfares and small areas, activity areas, for the children and enhancing their learning and play skills through the furniture and the way it's positioned.

And then we went to Robertsbridge and visited the actual place where the furniture is made and looked at the showroom. And while we were there we received planning advice. We took down a plan of the spaces, the pods, and we received fantastic advice on the best way to use those areas and to create smaller learning environments for the children. The furniture immediately had an impact on the children's behaviour. We had set furniture up in such a way that small spaces were created, for example, to sit and read a little book with some friends.

We noticed an immediate impact. The whole environment seemed calmer. Initially, the children are very excited to see the new furniture in the new areas, but they made it their own very quickly. One area that they particularly adore is now the new brick building area, which is a contained area, as were before, children used to start buildings, and then somebody else would trample on them or something would happen and they would be destroyed.

And we see longer attention span and concentration spans from our children in activities due to the layout now of the furniture. But after a short while there were things that we wanted to move and it was immediately a really obvious, easy operation to do. We can flick forward little buttons and casters come out. So instead of us waiting for the site manager to come and help us or hurting our backs moving furniture, everything is on casters, it could be secured in one place or moved around. Everything is flexible and we can create our own areas and we can change those areas if we change topics.

For example, if we change the use of a room, it's very quick and easy to move.
Room Design, Block play
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