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Should older primary children be sitting around tables?

(32 Posts)
kesstrel Wed 22-Mar-17 10:20:06

I thought this article was interesting:

"Eager to try something new, I arranged my tables in horizontal rows facing the front. It worked: behaviour rapidly improved. On the second day, the deputy head walked in and saw the layout. Obviously not happy, she pulled me to one side and said ‘that’s not how we do things here. That looks appalling to anyone that walks in – it looks like we don’t do collaborative learning, and we do.’"

I've read a number of instances of teachers being actively forbidden to arrange desks in rows, even for older children. But even Finland has primary age desks in rows, so is there really something that wrong with it?

irvineoneohone Wed 22-Mar-17 10:26:48

In my country, desks are in rows from start of primary and it definitely works. When need to do group works, or paired works, we simply move the desk.

Bloopbleep Wed 22-Mar-17 10:33:57

I can only talk from my experience as a parent of a primary age child. She gets very distracted sitting round a table and spends more time helping others with their work than doing her own. The school's solution was to allow her to go sit at a desk at the back of the room on her own for quiet time which I think no child would actively choose for a number of reasons. Individual or rows of desks I think would work better for her but I know it doesnt necessarily work for everyone

MollyHuaCha Wed 22-Mar-17 10:34:38

For some learning tasks groups are needed. But many activities are more suited to tables facing the front. The horse shoe shape is one of the best because it allows whole group discussion and it also allows each student to face the front of the room (albeit with a twisted neck). But school inspectors seem to like small groups of children facing each other and kicking each other under the tables...

irvineoneohone Wed 22-Mar-17 10:44:30

I think a lot of silly low level disruption can be prevented.
But the problem is that school have already invested in bigger tables, not individual desks, so I don't think school will change easily even if they find it may be beneficial.

Finola1step Wed 22-Mar-17 10:44:50

I was a teacher for many years and this sort of rigid thinking over tables would drive me mad. I have taught using rows, group tables, horseshoe shapes, t shapes and a combination of styles in the same room. My only criteria would be what was best for the children in that class plus what I was teaching.

I have walked into many classrooms and wanted to rearrange the group tables because there is invariably a few kids in the class sitting with their backs to the front of class. Flipping madness.

One of the things that I was taught on my Education degree was that when you set up your classroom, sit in every seat and ask yourself what the child can see. Walk around on your knees to check that pathways are suitable and safe.

Older children from Year 3 upwards are more than capable of managing a quick change round of tables if they are taught how and expected to do it.

irvineoneohone Wed 22-Mar-17 10:49:43

Yeah, children facing back is totally stupid.
My ds complained of neck pain last year, from twisting all the time to see the teacher.
When I asked him if he wanted me to speak to the teacher, he replied, "No, somebody have to sit there."

noramum Wed 22-Mar-17 11:31:40

We had issues with group tables as DD is borderline ADD. One solution DD and her teacher came up with was to sit her on a small table next to the others, so still together but she didn't have the others directly in her face. Attention and work improved significantly.

CountryCaterpillar Wed 22-Mar-17 11:35:24

I was a secondary teacher and rows was the only lay out ive hated. Horseshoe with a group in the middle I usually ended up with. There's more interesting layouts possible with a smaller group. With the adult ed class I did we had 2 groups of tables which worked really well - the grownup version of primary tables!

graciestocksfield Wed 22-Mar-17 11:40:15

I liked the way we sat at sixth form college, which a number of secondary schools and colleges favour now, where the tables go round the edge of the room and everyone looks in and is side on or front on to the board/teacher. That could work for primary as well.

CountryCaterpillar Wed 22-Mar-17 11:42:37

It doesn't work well for primary as you can't usually fit 30 seats in a horseshoe (hence I used to have a group in the middle as well). Also primary tend to be up and about more during the lesson and you can't move around to the person the other side of the room so easily. Works brilliant for 6th form though when you come in, sit down for the lesson, and can interact and debate etc though.

graciestocksfield Wed 22-Mar-17 11:53:12

Also primary tend to be up and about more during the lesson and you can't move around to the person the other side of the room so easily.

It would be better surely if they aren't up and down so much, though I can see there is a space issue. They can swap seats quite easily for group work though, and no table-moving is required.

kesstrel Wed 22-Mar-17 15:08:39

In my view, older children sitting around tables also facilitates bullying, because the children are often so close together, and some have their backs to the teacher.

Witchend Wed 22-Mar-17 15:42:08

I loved horse shoe arrangement we had. We all could copy from the best person out of 15 people rather than just one from round the table. grin

mrz Wed 22-Mar-17 18:51:29

Group tables mean there are always children with their backs to the teacher (or the teacher has their back to the majority of the class) and who are facing away from the board so have to twist around.

lavenderandrose Wed 22-Mar-17 18:52:45

I much prefer rows. Behaviour deteriorates in groups.

MrsKCastle Wed 22-Mar-17 18:57:00

They're lucky if they've got tables! I know of a primary school where most of the children sit on the floor.

leccybill Wed 22-Mar-17 19:03:00

I teach in 5 schools presently. 4 of them primary, in a very tough area where behaviour can be very bad.
2 schools have square group tables of 6.
1 school has a horseshoe with centre table.
1 (the most difficult) has rows.

I much prefer the horseshoe but you need a big room and some classrooms are very poky.

What can look a bit Victorian but definitely works is individual (twin) desks. Much less potential for messing about.

mrssusanmanchester72 Wed 22-Mar-17 19:06:28

My 12/yo DS told me he has classes in rows and he doesn't like it, but what can you do? When I've tried talking to teachers in the past about other concerns they say they won't change their teaching to fit the pupil's needs. AFAIK they should do whatever they can to adapt to the kids. AIBU? hmm

OvO Wed 22-Mar-17 19:17:45

My DS's class has changed to random seating. There's groups tables, individual tables, sofas and bean bags. Every day they go in and pick where the want to sit that day.

The children love it.

It's new so I have no idea if it'll work long term. Their teacher is very positive about it though.

jamdonut Wed 22-Mar-17 19:24:50

All our year 5 and 6 classrooms are in rows.
Year4 are 'L' shapes, Year 3 and under are in tables.

mrz Wed 22-Mar-17 19:36:34

How does he want to sit MrsS?

leccybill Wed 22-Mar-17 19:47:41

My DS's class has changed to random seating. There's groups tables, individual tables, sofas and bean bags. Every day they go in and pick where the want to sit that day.

This would cause no end of problems with my pupils. They would all pile in the room racing to get the 'best' seats, they would argue over 'but that's my place, I sat there on Monday etc', beanbags and sofas would not be conducive to learning.
That's just my students though. Very tough kids in very deprived area. It may work elsewhere.

OvO Wed 22-Mar-17 20:09:29

I'd have expected that too, leccy, but so far so good. I do wonder if it'll work with other classes in the future though.

The class has a budget (it's a Scottish education thing, other schools are taking part) and all the pupils in the class have been involved in choosing how they want the classroom to be - not just the seating.

I'm hoping we'll get to see the feedback from all the schools taking part so we can see what's worked and what didn't.

mrssusanmanchester72 Wed 22-Mar-17 21:52:37

Mr. Z
He feels uncomfortable near a more academic pupil who picks on him because she apparently gets higher marks. I suggested grouped tables of similar abilities (some of the other mums agreed) but his teacher was having none of it. angry

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