When it comes to outfitting SEN schools with the right furniture, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Finding educational furniture that is both practical and comfortable for pupils can be a challenge for bursars and business managers – especially if budgets are tight. In this guide, we’ll share our top tips on how to source quality yet affordable furniture that complies with SEN standards – from seating and desks to sensory resources.
Identify Your School’s Specific Needs for Education Furniture
When it comes to creating the perfect educational environment, it’s important to carefully consider the many options available for furniture. From tables and chairs to storage units and computer workstations, each piece plays a vital role in crafting a cohesive and functional space. But it’s not just about aesthetics – ergonomics, comfort, and safety should also be top concerns when selecting educational furniture. After all, a comfortable and safe environment is key to promoting effective learning. So, take the time to explore various ranges of furniture and create a space that facilitates both education and inspiration.
Different Types of Special Educational Needs (SEN) Furniture
Special Educational Needs (SEN) furniture is specifically designed to help those with physical, cognitive, and learning disabilities. Available in many shapes and sizes, SEN furniture can range from adjustable desks so students can work in a comfortable position including wheelchair accessibility, to comfortable chairs with extra support for physical and emotional needs.
Seating, Stools & Accessories
Through the use of interactive seating such as wobble stools, cushions, and recliners, sensory furniture not only provides an outlet for movement-based learning but also allows students to develop their motor skills more effectively.
Moveable armchairs can be used for pupils with autism who want to work alone, meanwhile, sensory furniture like bean bags can help improve attention abilities among those with autism or ADHD.
Beanbags and Floor Accessories
Bean bags and floor accessories have become increasingly popular in SEN schools and can enhance learning and sensory experiences. These comfortable and versatile items provide a safe and calming space for children to subsequently explore and learn in a non-traditional setting. From sensory play activities to reading corners, bean bags and floor accessories allow educators to particularly create an inclusive and welcoming environment that meets the unique needs of their students. Whether a child needs a break from traditional seating or simply wants to engage in tactile play, bean bags and floor accessories offer students a space to take a deep breath and refocus their energy, ultimately promoting better learning outcomes.
One Piece Chairs (Classroom / Multipurpose)
One-piece polypropylene chairs are not only lightweight and easy to move around but also strong enough to withstand the rigours of school life. But what sets these chairs apart is their ergonomic design. They’re shaped to support the back and provide students with a comfortable sitting experience. These chairs are extremely durable, easy to clean, and great value for money.
- Optional seat pads available
- Available in a full range of colours and sizes
Wave Back Chair
The Intellect Wave chair is engineered with tough classroom environments in mind, this chair is built to last. Its elliptical tubing provides superior frame strength, while its lightweight poly shells resist scratches, fading, chipping, and denting. That means that year after year, this chair will deliver reliable, low-maintenance service.
- Flexible polypropylene seat shell adds subtle movement for increased comfort.
Hatton Multipurpose Chair
The Hatton range is a multipurpose chair suitable for use inside or outside. This chair is not only elegant and streamlined, but it’s also constructed from a 100% recyclable, one-piece injection-moulded polypropylene/glass fibre blend that’s both strong and comfortable. Plus, with built-in UV protection, you don’t have to worry about it fading when using in outdoor spaces. And if you need to reconfigure your space, the chair is lightweight and easy to move around. Thanks to its subtle curved backrest and integrated grab handle. With the ability to stack up to eight high on the floor, or 18 high on its transport dolly, the Hatton range is a space-saving solution that’s both practical and stylish.
- Low maintenance / easy to clean.
Movement is a crucial aspect of cognitive development and learning, which is why Ruckus has been designed to provide an ‘as you like it’ sitting experience. With the ability to quickly transform spaces from a concentrative one to a more communal model, this innovation from this range gives teachers the freedom to teach however they want. The generously sized seat surface is perfectly complemented by the versatile backrest which doubles as an armrest, a worksurface, or a comfortably balanced perch. Ruckus has successfully managed to ensure not only flexibility in teaching but also comfortable and adaptive seating for students.
- Multi-purpose educational chair
As our understanding of the links between physical movement and cognitive development increases, educators are looking for ways to support student activity in the classroom. Ricochet stools are an innovative solution to this need, providing a comfortable seat while also encouraging movement. Built to withstand the wear and tear of everyday use, Ricochet stools are perfect for students of all ages and needs. And with their easy-to-move design, they can be easily repositioned around the classroom to allow for collaborative learning and discussion. With Ricochet stools, students can keep their minds and bodies engaged, unlocking their full potential for learning and growth.
- Durable and easy to clean.
Junior Seating – Vinyl
Bring some fun and playfulness to your space with our vinyl seating range, available in a variety of bubble-gum colours. The modular design allows for maximum customisation, making it an excellent fit for any space or budget. The vinyl material not only offers durability but also makes for easy cleaning. Making this range perfect for SEN schools where wear and tear are a common occurrence.
Multipurpose soft seating is a great investment in SEN schools. Soft modular and low seating supports sensory regulation making a comfortable and relaxed environment that students can thrive in. Soft seating can also reduce anxiety and stress levels, allowing students to focus on learning, communicating, and achieving their potential.
Classroom Desks and Tables
Sensory tables give children the opportunity to explore objects, textures, and sounds that can assist in developing various skills.
Height-adjustable desks and tables are an effective solution for environments that cater to students with special education needs. The ability to easily switch between a seated and standing position makes it easier for those who have difficulty sitting or standing for long periods. In addition, having the desks at adjustable heights helps to adapt the learning environment to each student’s needs by improving posture, promoting active learning, and increasing access.
Fully Welded Classroom Tables / Multipurpose Tables
Fully welded classroom tables are sturdy and durable. They are also designed to meet the specific needs of students with SEN. Fully welded tables offer a safe and hygienic learning environment, making them ideal for classrooms where there are group activities or messy projects that might require disinfection. With a seamless design, there are no sharp edges, corners, or joints, which means they are easier to clean, reducing the risk of infection and ensuring a safer learning environment.
Multi-purpose Tables are designed to promote flexibility and collaboration, allowing for various seating arrangements and activities in a single space. Whether students need to work on their own, in pairs, or in small groups, these tables can be easily rearranged to accommodate their needs. Additionally, they are equipped with features that support accessibility, such as adjustable heights and ample legroom.
Height Adjustable Tables
The ability to customize the height of a desk or table allows students to work in a position that is most comfortable and efficient for them, reducing strain on their backs, necks, and eyes. This can lead to increased focus and productivity, as well as improved physical health. Moreover, students of all abilities can use adjustable tables, regardless of their height or size, promoting inclusivity and accessibility in the classroom.
Polypropylene classroom tables are a practical solution for SEN schools. Not only are they durable and easy to clean, but their one-piece design eliminates the need for additional screws or attachments that could potentially cause injury or damage. These tables also come in a range of sizes, allowing for customisation to fit the needs of any classroom. The lightweight material makes it easy for teachers to rearrange and create different seating arrangements, promoting group learning and inclusivity. These tables are not only functional, but their bright colours and modern design can also add a touch of vibrancy.
Light boards provide much-needed calming environments to focus on creative subjects such as art and music. Whiteboards help to streamline communication between teacher and student and give a framework for the exchange of ideas that might otherwise be difficult to grasp.
Sensory lighting has become increasingly popular in SEN schools, and for good reason. These lights can create a stimulating and calming environment for students with special needs, who may often feel overwhelmed or overstimulated. Some schools even use the lights to signal transitions between activities or to indicate when it’s time to focus on a specific task.
Noticeboards & Whiteboards
Noticeboards play a crucial role in schools as they not only serve as an informative source for the students but also provide opportunities for them to showcase their creativity. These boards can be used to communicate important information about events, schedules, and announcements. Additionally, they can be used to showcase the artwork, poems, and other creative pieces that the students have created. The noticeboards not only help promote inclusivity in the school community but also boost the students’ confidence and self-esteem by providing them with a platform to express themselves.
Whiteboards have become an essential tool in many SEN schools, providing a dynamic learning experience for students who learn differently. They allow for interactive activities that engage students in a way that traditional teaching methods may not.
Floor mats can provide various sensory experiences for the students, such as different textures and colours. Additionally, floor mats also offer safety benefits by preventing slips and falls. Mats can also be personalized with educational designs and messages, making them a fun and interactive addition to the classroom.
Consider Factors such as Quality, Longevity, and Safety When Choosing Furniture
When it comes to furniture for SEN environments, quality and safety should be at the forefront of any purchasing decision. Quality furniture that can withstand daily use, ensures that students have a safe and comfortable place to learn and develop.
It’s also important to consider how long the furniture will last. Investing in well-made pieces will save money in the long run, as they need not be replaced as often. Quality furniture also provides structural integrity which reduces the risk of falling or collapsing due to sudden movements. In addition to quality, consider features like padding, non-slip surfaces, rounded edges, and adjustable heights for student comfort and accessibility.
While selecting SEN school furniture, safety should not be overlooked either. Selecting pieces with smooth edges, correct ergonomics, and fire-retardant capabilities is highly recommended to promote a safe environment.
These considerations will help provide an environment that is both safe and educational for all children regardless of ability.
How to choose the right colours and materials for your SEN environment
Choosing the right colours and materials for educational furniture in SEN environments is a crucial task. It requires expert knowledge, attention to detail, and consideration of factors such as durability, ease of cleaning, and compatibility with the rest of the environment design. For example, warm and vibrant colours can be used to create an inviting atmosphere that’s comfortable for children with sensory issues; alternatively, cool colours offer a calming effect.
Overstimulating colours to avoid:
- Bright White
Stimulating colours for a calm sensory room:
In terms of materials, hardwearing fabrics are best if durability matters more than softness. If comfort is a concern, then a higher proportion of cushioning added to seats and backs may provide extra comfort. Natural materials such as wood are preferable in these environments as they are strong but also easy to clean. Avoiding plastics or fabrics with busy patterns can help keep distraction levels low and ensure desks, chairs, and other furniture pieces don’t become distractions themselves.
Ultimately, it is important to use furniture that can properly support those with SEN while creating a stimulating educational environment.
Research Suppliers to Find the Right High-Quality Educational Furniture for SEN Schools
When it comes to providing engaging learning environment for students in SEN schools, research is key to achieving success. Careful research into the various suppliers of high-quality educational furniture is needed to ensure that the school gets the best value for money. Suppliers should be able to provide advice on suitable products as well as guidance on effective classroom design that can cater specifically to SEN students’ needs.
Luckily, here at COI, we offer a wide range of educational furniture! As educational furniture dealers, our innovative design solutions are based on consultation with leading educational manufacturers and educationalists to help create the best learning environment for students with special educational needs. Thanks to our in-depth knowledge, we’re able to choose optimal fabrics, laminates, finishes, and safety features, ensuring that both form and function work together in perfect harmony.
Summary – Educational Furniture for SEN Schools
School furniture aimed at helping students with SEN can provide not only a safe and comfortable space for learning and growth but also offer sensory stimulation to improve their engagement.
Here at COI, we are passionate about providing the necessary support to enable SEN students to learn without limitation. Our comprehensive service covers everything from onsite visits and consultations to project management, space planning and design, plus the supply and delivery of quality educational furniture and accessories; all backed up by our first-class aftercare service.
We understand that investing in quality spaces for SEN helps create inspiring learning environments for our students. These spaces certainly can foster creative thinking and nurture a sense of belonging.
Last Updated on November 7, 2023