Fitted furniture and its links to academic success by Tony Huggins, Managing Director of David Bailey Furniture Systems Ltd
Storage units and fitted furniture play a crucial role in creating functional and productive learning environments within educational institutions. Such is their impact in a modern school that managers and designers are now having to think again about the role of storage units and other fitted furniture items – and it looks set change the way our schools work for years to come.
Storage units and fitted furniture enable educational institutions to maintain a well-organised environment. They provide designated spaces for storing textbooks, supplies, equipment, and other learning materials. By having dedicated storage solutions, classrooms, libraries, and administrative areas can remain clutter-free and promote efficient workflow.
Optimising space allows for better traffic flow, enhances accessibility, and maximises the usability of the available area. These elements contribute to organisational efficiency, student engagement, and most importantly - overall academic success.
We are talking here about humble cupboards or storage units. They rarely get a lot of attention, but they are vital to the smooth-running of schools and colleges, the welfare of staff and students - and make a major contribution to the smooth running of the education sector.
The challenge for managers is to meet the needs of a modern education environment where no two projects are the same. On one end of the scale, modular construction continues to play a more important role with the need for new classroom space while at the other end, the skilled designer needs to look equally at buildings possibly more than 100 years old and badly in need of TLC to bring them up to standard.
Pressure on schools to meet ever increasing demands and challenges, exacerbated by the continued threat of Covid-19, mean that staff are having to work with storage units which have been installed for many years. In many cases these have become chipped or damaged, making them difficult to keep clean resulting in the potential for spreading infection. Modern units are designed to minimise this risk and should be a major consideration for architects when designing new interiors for schools.
It is also said that there are reports that teachers are frequently disappointed by the lack of storage space, particularly at a time when schools and colleges are being asked to be more flexible in their response to student needs.
Fitted furniture and storage solutions play a crucial role in creating a conducive and functional learning environment. Schools and academies need well-designed and organized spaces that promote learning and support the needs of students and staff.
There are many benefits for having good, robust fitted furniture and storage solutions for schools and academies, which is why managers and specifiers should be prepared to work closely with manufacturers to produce the right solutions.
Well-designed fitted furniture and storage solutions promote a sense of order and organisation, making it easier for students and staff to access learning materials and equipment. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels, improving the overall learning experience.
Fitted furniture also offers opportunities for institutional branding and creates a positive visual impact. Educational institutions often seek to establish their unique identity and create a welcoming atmosphere for students, faculty, and visitors.
Customised fitted furniture with school logos, colours, or design add a sense of pride and fosters a sense of community. A visually appealing environment positively influences the perception of the institution and enhances the overall learning experience.
Storage units in educational institutions are not limited to books and supplies but also play a crucial role in ensuring safety and security. Cabinets and lockable compartments allow for secure storage of valuable equipment, sensitive documents, and personal belongings. Implementing proper storage protocols and security measures helps prevent theft, unauthorized access, and damage to property.
Fitted furniture and storage solutions can also enhance the aesthetics of any learning environment, creating an attractive and engaging space for students to learn. This can be achieved through careful selection of colours and materials, creating an inviting and comfortable environment that supports learning.
Architects and specifiers should also consider colour choices and the need to develop attractive environments for students because these factors can have a significant impact on the learning experience. Colours and materials that are too bright or too dull can be distracting or uninviting, making it difficult for students to focus and engage in the learning process.
Ideally, architects and managers should work closely with manufacturers such as David Bailey Furniture Systems to produce the right solutions for schools to solve storage problems because every school has unique needs and requirements. A one-size-fits-all approach may not be suitable for all schools, and working closely with manufacturers can help to identify the best solutions for each school's specific needs. This can include customised storage solutions, with fitted furniture and other equipment that is designed to meet the unique needs of each school.
The best choice and options for fitted furniture and storage solutions for schools and academies include flexible and modular designs that can be easily adapted to changing needs. For example, modular fitted furniture can be configured in different ways to support different learning activities, while flexible storage solutions can be easily reconfigured to accommodate changing storage needs. Additionally, fitted furniture and storage solutions should be designed with safety and durability in mind, with materials and construction that can withstand the wear and tear of daily use.
Fixed storage units are now fitted with sloping tops to ensure dust is unable to build up and any surfaces can be easily wiped clean. Safety is also a consideration as staff could store boxes on top of wall units without sloping tops which would constitute a health and safety risk.
Serious consideration must be given to ensuring that there are no sharp corners or edges where students, particularly younger pupils, might be injured as a result of a fall. As already mentioned, the right choice of colour – particularly in primary schools - and making the best use of available space is also a challenge – while at all times delivering maximum value for money.
There is no doubt that schools are striving to be more welcoming, but that is difficult when you have buildings in serious need of refurbishment and where space is critical, possibly due to overcrowding and need to create more classrooms.
While these challenges are well documented it would be easy to ask what this has to do with something as humble as a storage unit? The answer is simple - clean vibrant units provide essential facilities for teaching professionals, but more importantly, well maintained colourful units help to create the right ambience for pupils.
This is particularly important at a time when schools are being asked to be more flexible with the ability to adapt – sometimes in just a few hours - to the rapidly changing needs of student demands.
The most important focus for every school facility is of course the students. This must have an impact on everything we do in terms of designing fitted furniture for a school environment where we should ask ourselves one key question. How can we make the education experience better and create an environment that promotes wellbeing?
While good design, colour and materials all play a key part in this, it really all comes down to working closely with schools to provide solutions that individually work for them. One of the primary benefits of fitted furniture in schools is its flexibility. Fitted furniture can be designed to fit the unique requirements of a classroom, with shelves, drawers, and cupboards customised to store educational materials and supplies in a neat and organised way.
The flexibility of fitted furniture allows teachers to make the most of limited classroom space, providing efficient storage solutions that help to maximise available space and create a more spacious learning environment for students.
Fitted furniture is also durable, which makes it an ideal choice for the wear and tear of school use. Made from high-quality materials, fitted furniture can withstand heavy use and remain in good condition for many years. This durability means that schools do not have to worry about continually replacing storage units, which can be costly and time-consuming. In short - fitted furniture is a cost-effective option for schools, providing long-term value for money.
So yes, it is time to think again about the humble storage unit – and that is the challenge.
For further information visit https://education.davidbaileyfurniture.co.uk/