What are the different sizes of school furniture?

Buying furniture for primary and secondary schools poses a number of challenges; one of which is sizing. After all, a set of chairs for a reception class won’t necessarily be suitable for a Year 6 class. So, if you want to find out more about the different sizes of school furniture so you can buy the right sizes for your school, read this complete guide from Rosehill…

School furniture sizing definitions

Before we go into the details of school furniture sizing, there are a number of terms and phrases which we’d like to clarify first. 

By understanding these various terms and phrases you’ll be able to more confidently purchase the correct furniture for your educational premises. 

Popliteal height

This is a phrase which refers to the correct seat height for a student (it is sometimes also called the ‘stool height’). 

The popliteal height measures the distance from the floor to the back of the knees when seated. Imagine someone seated in the normal way, with their thighs horizontal, their lower legs vertical, and their feet planted flat on the floor. It’s this seating position which is measured to give a seat its popliteal height. 

Note – popliteal height is not the same as sitting height. Sitting height refers to the distance between the floor and the top of the head when seated.

Sitting working height

This refers to the correct height of a table. 

Sitting working height is calculated in the following way; an individual sits down with their upper arm vertical and their lower arms horizontal (as if they are resting their arms on a table top). 

The distance from the floor to the individual’s elbow is then measured to determine the sitting working height of a table.

Metalliform Craft and Science Laboratory Tables

Metalliform Craft and Science Laboratory Tables

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Stature

Stature simply refers to the distance from the floor to the top of an individual’s head whilst they are standing. 

Standing working height

If you are looking to buy a table which will be used by people when they are standing (such as in a science lab), you need to be aware of its standing working height.

Standing working height is measured in the following way; an individual stands at the table with their upper arm vertical and their lower arm horizontal (i.e. their lower arms would be resting on the table surface if it was the correct height). The distance between the floor and the individual’s elbow is then measured to arrive at the standing working height.

What are the different furniture sizes for primary schools? 

With those terms defined it’s now time to turn our attention to the furniture sizes in each educational context. We’ll begin by looking at primary school furniture sizes.

The table below sets out the popliteal height range, stature range, standing table height, table height and chair height figures for each primary school age group. 

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

 

To ensure you purchase the correct sized furniture for your primary school we would recommend working out the average stature and popliteal height for each year group and then comparing these numbers to the table and chair height of your chosen pieces of furniture.

What are the different furniture sizes for secondary schools? 

When it comes to selecting the correct size furniture for secondary schools, it’s still important to take into account average popliteal and height stature. 

This is because many children experience rapid growth spurts during their secondary school years; this means that tables and chairs for year 7 pupils will not necessarily be the correct size for year 10 and 11 pupils.

The table below sets out the common furniture sizes for secondary school pupils along with the expected popliteal height and stature for defined year groups.

 

Size Mark Age Range School Year Popliteal Height Range Stature Range Standing Table Height Table Height Chair Height
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

 

Note – in Britain, the average popliteal height for men is 440mm, whilst the average for women is 400mm. So, as you can see, when it comes to buying furniture for pupils in years 10 and up, you’re effectively buying adult-sized furniture.

How to buy compliant furniture for schools

The different size requirements of school furniture stem from a British and European standard which sets out recommended heights for tables and chairs in schools. 

This standard was introduced to ensure that any furniture purchased for educational settings is of the correct dimensions and is ‘fit for purpose’.

This standard is BS EN1729 and has sections, Parts 1 & 2.

Below we’ve taken a closer look at each of the two parts of this standard.

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Metalliform Teacher Desks

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BS EN1729 Part 1 – Functional Dimensions

This part of the standard sets out six ‘size marks’. These size marks indicate the ideal seat and table height for each age of child.

The size marks within the standard take into account factors such as stature and popliteal height – what the standard describes as ‘dimensional fit’. 

So, any school furniture that is marked as ‘Conforms to BS EN1729 Part 1’ will comply with the required dimensions set out within the standard. 

What’s more, tables and chairs which conform to Part 1 of BS EN1729 will also have a shape and ergonomic design which are considered to encourage good posture, reduce instances of repetitive strain injury (RSI) and prevent the onset of back and joint pain.

BS EN1729 Part 2 – Strength & Stability

As you’ll probably be more than aware, school furniture takes a beating. Part 2 of BS EN1729 sets out a series of strength, durability and safety standards that furniture must meet in order to be considered ‘fit for purpose’ for use in schools. 

Furniture that meets Part 2 of BS EN1729 then, will have a long service life, will be of high quality and will create a better learning environment; research shows that quality, ergonomically-focused school furniture improves pupil concentration and reduces misbehaviour.

Note – at the time of writing, all school tables and chairs sold in the UK must comply with Parts 1 & 2 of BS EN1729.

What else should you consider when buying school furniture? 

Yes, you absolutely need to make sure that you purchase furniture which is of the correct size for your school. And, you certainly need to buy furniture which is compliant with BS EN1729 Parts 1 & 2.

But, there are a few other things you should consider when purchasing furniture for your school:

  • The British and European size marks are based on averages. It’s worth checking where your own school’s pupils fit within these size marks before you order. There are regional/country-based height variations after all.
  • Give some extra thought to ergonomics. Yes, dimensions are important, but so too are ergonomics. Where possible, go for the most ergonomically-designed furniture you can. The evidence shows it’ll lead to better learning outcomes.
  • Look for school furniture that offers back, neck and leg support.
  • Allow for a 10mm +/- leeway against the British and European size marks.
  • Double check that all of the furniture you order sits within the age brackets you are buying for.
  • If you’re buying furniture for classrooms, why not update the staff room seating and tables as well as other furniture at the same time? Many retailers such as Rosehill offer all of these types of furniture for education settings.
  • Consider whether the school furniture you have in mind is transportable and stackable. Your teachers may want to teach outside during the summer. Or you may need to stack classroom chairs to make room for an event.
  • Check to see if the school furniture you are looking at comes with a guarantee. School furniture has to put up with a lot – so furniture that comes with a guarantee is a sign of quality and confidence from the manufacturer.
  • Can the school furniture be customised? It’s worth asking this question to potential suppliers as many will be able to customise seats and tables to meet your school’s specific requirements.
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Student Metal Easy Chair

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With all of the points above in mind, you should now be in a position to buy safe, high quality, compliant furniture for your school.

The best classroom furniture for UK schools

Here at Rosehill we have extensive experience in supplying quality furniture to preschool, primary, secondary and higher education users. We offer everything from plastic chairs with metal frames through to a wide range of tables including standard classroom tables, exam desks and lab tables.

Plus, if you’re looking to update the furniture in other parts of the school, Rosehill also offers common room seating, staff room chairs and even cafeteria dining sets. 

Below, we’ve highlighted some of our most popular pieces of school furniture. 

KI Postura+ Classroom Chairs

KI Postura+ Classroom Chairs

KI Postura+ Classroom Chairs

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For schools looking to make the most of their furniture budget, the KI Postura+ classroom chairs are the perfect choice. 

Why? 

Well, firstly, they have an incredible 20-year guarantee. Secondly, they are super strong yet lightweight, ergonomically shaped, and are easy to carry and stack.

The KI Postura+ chairs are designed specifically with children in mind and as such feature a large footprint for anti-rocking. Thanks to the chair’s poly shell, it’ll stay cleaner for longer and can be quickly and easily wiped clean. 

These chairs are also designed to be hard to scratch and are difficult to write on – perfect for resisting those mischievous school endeavours!

The KI Postura+ is available in a wide range of colours and sizes (covering all junior age groups up to young adults).

Geo Poly Chair

Geo Poly Chair

Geo Poly Chair

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The Geo Poly Chair is the modern, fresh seating option for your classrooms. 

Featuring a shaped poly shell, the Geo is ergonomically shaped with a waterfall seat for comfort and to promote good posture. 

The four leg frame is manufactured from robust 19mm diameter tubular steel and so will withstand significant wear and tear. The Geo also features a handhold on the back, making it super easy to handle and move these chairs around. 

The Geo is manufactured in the UK and is available in 10 different shell colours and can be upgraded to include upholstered seat pads.

Classroom Tables

Classroom Tables

Classroom Tables

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If you’re looking for new classroom tables, then you’re in the right place. At Rosehill we are able to supply classroom tables in a huge number of different variations – our classroom tables are available in different heights, different sizes, different shapes and more. 

Our popular classroom tables are also available with different choices of metal frame. Choose to have either a fully welded metal frame (which can spiral stack), or a crushed bent metal frame (which can nest stack). The metal frames are also available in a variety of different finishes including black, charcoal, light grey and Duraform light speckled grey.

The table top is also highly customisable, with several table top colours to choose from and even different optional 2mm PVC edge finishes.

Folding Exam Desk

Folding Exam Desk

Folding Exam Desk

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When exam season rolls around, there’s nothing worse than having to lift, carry and set up heavy old desks. Make you and your team’s life easier by investing in our lightweight folding exam desks. 

The Rosehill Folding Exam Desk is easy to move and will neatly store flat when not in use. The top is manufactured from 16mm-thick MDF in either a grey or beech finish and includes a pencil groove for added utility. 

The sturdy steel frame comes in a black finish and has secure fitting brackets to maintain the strength of the desk when it’s set up. The desk also features plastic feet to protect your floor.

Depending on how many of the desks you want to move, you can store 25 or 40 on a trolley.

Rosehill: the home of quality classroom furniture

For more than 30 years Rosehill has supplied high-quality, great-value classroom furniture to schools all across the UK. Whether you’re looking for a new set of classroom tables or chairs, or furniture for other parts of your school such as the staff room, we’ll have the perfect furniture for you. 

Please explore our website to see our complete range of school furniture, and if you have any questions this guide hasn’t answered, then please feel free to contact our friendly, knowledgeable team on 0161 485 1717 or sales@rosehill.co.uk.

Shop school furniture at Rosehill today

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