A Guide to School Dining Furinture

School dining furniture has to put up with a lot. Not only does it have to withstand plenty of wear and tear, but it needs to withstand regular cleaning, stacking, moving and more. Plus, it’s vital that school dining furniture is of the appropriate sizes and dimensions to accommodate all year groups. So, buying school dining furniture can be complex. But, Rosehill is about to make it easy with our complete guide to school dining furniture…

Why selecting the right school dining furniture is so important

Whether you’re a local education authority, school administrator, bursar, finance director, headteacher, facilities manager or caretaker, it’s important that you select furniture which not only represents good value for money, but which is durable and offers a comfortable dining environment for students. 

In many schools, you also have to ensure that the dining furniture you select is multi-functional and capable of being used in other scenarios (e.g. assemblies).

You may also need to think about how the furniture is moved and stored, as in many schools the cafeteria is used for other purposes. 

In short, there’s a lot to think about when selecting dining furniture for your school! Get it wrong and you can waste your budget and end up with unhappy staff and pupils.

So, keep reading and we will detail all of the key considerations you need to think about when selecting your cafeteria furniture. 

What types of school dining furniture are there? 

When you first set out to buy new dining furniture for your school, it’s easy to fall into the misconception that your choice is limited to chairs and tables. 

However, modern educational furniture manufacturers these days offer many different types of school cafeteria furniture, including: 

  • Chairs – stackable and non-stackable, where the entire chair is polycarbonate or where the chair is metal framed with poly backs and seats. 
  • Tables – stackable and non-stackable, in a range of materials and finishes.
  • Mobile dining tables – foldable, with integrated seats and caster wheels.
  • Benches – stackable, in a range of materials and finishes.
  • Folding tables – available in a range of materials and finishes. 
  • Canteen units – tables with chairs integrated into a single piece of furniture
  • Block and modular furniture.

As you can see, you have a considerable amount of choice when it comes to buying furniture for your school/college/university cafeteria.

Hatton Stacking Chair

Hatton Stacking Chair

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What standards should school dining furniture adhere to? 

First and foremost you want to select school dining furniture which meets the correct standards. 

This means that the furniture has been designed, manufactured and tested to meet important safety, sizing, strength and durability standards. 

Here at Rosehill we recommend that you only buy school cafeteria furniture which adheres to BS EN1729 Parts 1 and 2.

Below, we’ve detailed what the two parts of this standard mean.

What is BS EN1729 Part 1? 

Part 1 of the BS EN1729 standard looks at the ‘dimensional fit’ of pieces of furniture. 

This means that furniture that conforms to BS EN1729 Part 1 will be ergonomically designed to encourage good posture, reduce instances of repetitive strain injury (RSI) and prevent the onset of back and joint pain. 

Part 1 of BS EN1729 also sets out six ‘size marks’. These size marks set out the correct size and dimensions for a piece of furniture for each age range of pupil. 

In other words, if you are buying tables and chairs for a reception class, then BS EN1729 Part 1 stipulates that furniture for this age group must be of a specific size, in this instance being: 

  • Standing table height – 590mm.
  • Table height – 460mm.
  • Chair height – 260mm.

By purchasing furniture which has passed BS EN1729 Part 1, you can be sure that you are buying furniture that is of the correct size for your pupils. 

What is BS EN1729 Part 2? 

Part 2 of the BS EN1729 standard sets out the strength and stability requirements that a piece of school dining furniture must meet. 

A piece of furniture which has passed BS EN1729 Part 2 will be robust, have a strong, long-lasting design and construction and will help to create a better learning environment for your pupils. 

Note – all school furniture sold in the UK must comply with BS EN1729 Parts 1 & 2.

School dining furniture sizes

When it comes to buying furniture for your school cafeteria, it’s important to consider sizing. 

In general, many school facilities managers and caretakers select furniture in the medium size range for primary schools, whilst for secondary schools they simply select full-size adult furniture. 

Think of it this way – in a cafeteria, you have to accommodate pupils across different age groups, whereas with a classroom, you’ll generally be dealing with pupils from only one or two year groups age and size (particularly in the primary setting). 

In other words, it’s better to go with an ‘average’ for cafeterias and communal areas. 

As you’ll have just read, when you buy furniture for your school that complies with Part 1 of BS EN1729, you’ll have six choices of size.

Each of these six ‘size marks’ correspond to an age group of pupils. 

These six size marks are as follows: 

Size Mark Age Range School Year Popliteal Height Range Stature Range Standing Table Height Table Height Chair Height
1 3-4 years Nursery & Reception 250-280mm 930-1150mm 590mm 460mm 260mm
2 4-6 years Reception & Year 1 280-315mm 1080-1210mm 710mm 530mm 310mm
3 6-8 years Year 1 to Year 3 315-355mm 1190-1420mm 760mm 590mm 350mm
4 8-11 years Year 4 to Year 6 355-405mm 1330-1590mm 900mm 640mm 380mm
5 11-14 years Year 7 to Year 9 405-435mm 1460-1765mm 1000mm 710mm 430mm
6 14 years+ Year 10, 11 and up 435-485mm 1590-1880mm 1000mm 760mm 460mm

 

This means that when you’re buying dining furniture for your school, you need to make sure you have selected sizes which will fit the greatest number of pupils. 

As we mentioned earlier, it’s better to select a ‘medium’ size for primary school pupils e.g. size mark 3 or 4, and adult furniture for secondary cafeterias e.g. size mark 6. 

Trying to buy cafeteria furniture for every single group of pupils is an ultimately futile task, particularly if you only have one cafeteria space in your school! So, stick to averages.

Guide – for more information on things like popliteal height, stature ranges and more, read our guide to the different sizes of school furniture.

Ease of cleaning

Being situated in a school dining hall means that your furniture is bound to become dirty, covered in the remains of food and more. 

As such, you should make sure that you purchase dining furniture which is not only easy to clean, but is also able to withstand repeated cleaning using common detergents and cleaning agents. 

When it comes to buying tables, you should look for models which feature tabletops that have tough edgings, robust MDF cores and wipe clean laminated tops. 

In terms of chairs, it’s recommended that you opt for models with metal frames and plastic seats and backs. Not only are they generally highly affordable, but they are tough, long-lasting and can be easily wiped down. 

Maintenance

It’s important to select school dining furniture which requires minimal maintenance too. 

Where possible, we would suggest purchasing items of furniture which have welded frames, which reduces the number of parts that can potentially come loose through use. For example, it’s possible to buy school tables which have either fully welded or crushed bent frames – both of which require basically no maintenance. 

If you are going to buy furniture which can be folded, make sure that you buy models that have strong, proven folding mechanisms that will withstand repeated folding over time. 

Here at Rosehill you’ll find dining furniture which meets all of these low or no maintenance criteria. 

Michigan Chair

Michigan Chair

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Colour

If you’re trying to create a cohesive school culture and ethos, it can help to have furniture that matches your school’s colours. 

So, if your pupils wear a particular colour blazer or tie, why not purchase furniture that matches? It’s the little details that can make all of the difference. 

At Rosehill many of our school tables and chairs are available in different colours and with different finishes. For example, our Contour stacking benches (which are ideal for dining halls) are available in 17 different colours (including wood finishes). 

Aftercare

When you’re spending your precious budget on new school dining furniture, you want to make sure that you’re getting quality items. 

So, look for pieces of furniture that come with warranties. This is a good indication that you’re buying a well designed and manufactured piece of school furniture. 

Plus, with a warranty, you’ll be able to have any issues remedied should anything go wrong. 

Fit-for-purpose

You should ensure that the furniture you purchase is fit for your intended purposes. 

For example, if you want your pupils to be able to dine outside, then it’s recommended that you select outdoor-specific items rather than moving indoor furniture outside. 

With outdoor-specific pieces of school dining furniture you’ll be able to leave them in-situ and won’t have to worry about them suffering from corrosion or weathering. 

Portability and storage

If, like many schools, your dining hall is used for other purposes such as assemblies, then you will want to select dining furniture which can be easily moved. 

It’s possible to buy dining table and chair sets which can be easily moved using caster wheels and can also be folded away for storage. A great example is our Spaceright Mobile Dining Tables

The Spaceright Mobile Dining Table uses a folding frame which includes integrated chairs which can be folded away when not in use. It also features a safety lock when in the open position, so troublesome pupils can’t cause any mischief to it…

It’ll also fit through a standard-height doorway (1980mm) and is available in multiple different colours. 

Should that not be to your tastes, we also stock a wide range of stackable benches, chairs and tables, all of which can be quickly and easily moved and stored away.

Consider modular and block seating

If you have a sixth form at your school, then you’re probably aware that when pupils enter into post-16 education they won’t necessarily want to sit with younger pupils in the main canteen or dining area. 

Instead, they’ll want to hang out with their friends in a more relaxed setting such as hybrid/study/breakout areas in the sixth form common room or sixth form department more widely. 

You can create this kind of setting by using modular and block seating. Pieces of furniture such as our Point Modular Seating Range and Tandem Cube & Bench offer a more stylish, modern alternative to traditional dining tables and chairs. 

In addition to being the ‘cool’ option, these types of seating are highly configurable and can be set up to make the most of your available space. 

The best school dining furniture UK

We hope that you’ve found this guide useful and that it’s given you some food for thought (if you’ll excuse the pun) regarding your next school dining furniture purchase. 

Below we’ve set out some of our most popular pieces which fulfil the criteria outlined above.

Spaceright Mobile Dining Tables

Spaceright Mobile Dining Tables

Spaceright Mobile Dining Tables

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Spaceright’s mobile dining tables are the ideal solution for schools which use their dining area as a multi-use space. 

These mobile dining tables feature seats integrated into the table, which itself can be folded for storage purposes. 

As their name suggests, these dining tables are easy to move around thanks to their caster wheels located at each corner of the table. 

They are also easy to clean and long lasting thanks to their 16-year warranty on all welds and mechanisms. 

So, if you need dining tables that can be easily set up, moved and stored, take a look at our Spaceright mobile dining tables. 

Axiom Block Steel Tables & Benches

Axiom Block Tables and Benches

Axiom Block Tables and Benches

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Available in a range of sizes, the Axiom Block steel tables and benches are ideal for modern educational settings, be they secondary schools, colleges or universities. 

The Axiom Block tables and benches are not only sleek and contemporary, but have a robust, fully-welded frame with a loop design. They also have a quality 40mm thick top on both the tables and benches which is easy to clean and maintain. 

What’s more, these tables and benches are available with the frame in one of 17 colours and edging in contrasting or complementary colours too. 

The Axiom Block tables and benches are ideal for high-use environments and come with a 5-year warranty. 

Hille Apero Canteen Seating

Hille Apero Canteen Seating

Hille Apero Canteen Seating

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Should your school have a dedicated full-time dining area, and you’d like some more ‘permanent’ furniture, then consider our Hille Apero Canteen Seating. 

This is a piece of furniture which incorporates the table and chairs into a single integrated piece of furniture. 

Fixed canteen seating allows you to make the most out of the available space in your school dining room and also helps you to create, and maintain, an efficient layout. That’s because this Hille Apero canteen seating can be either floor fixed or freestanding (with Duragrip feet).

This canteen seating is also available in a range of finishes, with the metal frame available in light grey, dark grey or a raw steel finish (chrome is also available on request). The polycarbonate seats are available with or without a back in a selection of six colours.

Gopak Contour Stacking Benches

Gopak Contour Stacking Benches

Gopak Contour Stacking Benches

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When you’ve got to seat a large number of pupils in your dining space, benches can often be a far more efficient use of space. 

Benches like Gopak’s Contour benches will allow you to do just that, providing plenty of seating space for pupils, whilst also being stackable, so they can be easily stowed away when not required. 

Strong and robust, with a lightweight aluminium frame, Contour benches will provide years of reliable, faultless service. 

They’re also available in three different lengths and heights, so no matter what age groups you have in your school, there will be a Contour bench to suit them. 

Available in a wide range of colours or finishes, the Contour bench will perfectly complement the Gopak Contour Folding Tables. 

Gopak Contour Folding Tables

Gopak Contour Folding Tables

Gopak Contour Folding Tables

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Designed to be used with the Contour bench detailed above, the Gopak Contour folding table is a versatile and flexible folding table that is perfect for use in dining areas that also serve as multi-use spaces. 

Thanks to its aluminium frame, the Gopak Contour folding table is lightweight, making it easy to move around and store away. However, despite it being lightweight, the design of the Contour’s frame makes it very stable once set up. 

It’s also easy to find a Contour table that perfectly matches your school’s colours, with a large number of colours and finishes available for the table top. And, with a laminate finished top, the Contour is super easy to wipe clean.

Outdoor Laminate Tables & Benches

Outdoor Laminate Tables and Benches

Outdoor Laminate Tables and Benches

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Do your pupils or students prefer eating their lunch outside in the warmer months of the year? 

If they do, then consider investing in some quality outdoor laminate tables and benches. 

Designed to withstand the elements, our outdoor laminate tables and benches are available in a variety of shapes and sizes including rectangular, square and circular tables. 

Featuring a robust, yet lightweight aluminium frame construction, these outdoor laminate tables and benches can be purchased with the option of security fittings, so that you can fix them to the floor. 

You can also select these outdoor tables and benches with a variety of laminate finishes as well as having either a solid or slatted top. 

Point Modular Seating Range

Point Modular Seating Range

Point Modular Seating Range

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To create a more laid-back dining environment, perhaps in your sixth form or staff room, choose the Point modular seating range. 

The Point modular range of comfortably upholstered seats includes one, two and three seater models, along with corner, convex and concave ‘modules’ that’ll help you create an unusual and fun seating layout in your cafeteria. 

Each Point unit features black nylon glides to help protect the floor and make movement of the modules easier. 

What’s more, the Point modules are available in a variety of fabrics and wipe-clean vinyls in multiple colours. 

Rosehill: top of the class for school furniture

Get your school dining room ready for the new school year with Rosehill. 

We’ve been providing top-quality furniture to schools for over 30 years and are ideally placed to help you get the most out of your budget. 

We know that ordering furniture for schools can sometimes be a tricky business, so we’re happy to offer you free advice and guidance. Contact our friendly sales team who will be happy to help on 0161 485 1717 or email: sales@rosehill.co.uk

Shop school dining furniture at Rosehill today

For more furniture buying guides, information and advice, read the Rosehill blog

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