British school furniture too small for modern children: study

November 5th, 2008 - 3:12 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 5 (IANS) British schools are being asked to change classroom furniture as children are taller and heavier than their counterparts in the 1960s, when the last table-desk change was affected.A study by a policy commission on the future of education led by former cabinet minister Charles Clarke has said children who are squashed into small seats suffer not only backache but also loss of concentration because they are fidgeting constantly.

The commission, convened by the British Educational Suppliers’ Association, spoke to and weighed and measured 1,500 schoolchildren as part of its study.

Clarke discovered that children had grown taller by an inch since the 1960s and become heavier. Their arms and legs are longer than a generation ago. However, they continue to sit on chairs that suited the frames of children of the 1960s, reported the Daily Mail.

The study said that in the present day children were of adult size by the age of 16. The average weight of 16-year-old boys in the study was 10 stone 8 lbs (67 kg) and 9 stone 6 lbs (60 kg) for girls - weights previously reached at the age of 18.

“All of this data supported the belief that our children are likely to be spending thousands of hours of their school lives on chairs and at desks and tables where their posture is poor and the potential for damage to their backs is great,” the commission noted.

Clarke said new furniture designs suitable for today’s children were available in the market, but schools were “slow” to respond or making “poor purchase decisions”.

Already European Union (EU) guidelines exist for new school furniture. These add up to an inch to the dimensions of school tables and chairs and ensure chair legs are thicker and chair backs stronger to withstand greater force when children sit down or lean back.

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