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Schools: Furniture

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 11 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of health risks to children from incorrectly-sized or poor quality school furniture. (255438)

The Department has not made a specific assessment of health risks to children using poor quality or incorrectly sized furniture. Schools are responsible for choosing good quality furniture of the correct size for their pupils.

The Department supports them in discharging this responsibility by raising awareness of the importance of buying furniture that is fit for purpose. We are supporting the development of an ergonomic furniture website tool to help users identify the appropriate size of furniture for each child. The delivery organisation for the Building Schools for the Future programme, Partnerships for Schools and DCSF are in the process of re-writing an output specification on furniture and equipment. This supports the expectation that furniture is specified to meet EN1729 (the new European standard for educational furniture covering both ergonomics and strength and stability). We welcome the British Educational Supplies Association agreement that all classroom tables will comply with EN1729 by April 2009.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families if he will take steps to ensure that furniture purchased under the Building Schools for the Future programme conforms with the European Furniture Standard EN1729. (255742)

The Department is working with Partnerships for Schools, the delivery agency for the Building Schools for the Future programme, on an updated comprehensive output specification on furniture and equipment. Within this specification, furniture which meets EN1729 is proposed as an expectation for those involved in the BSF programme. We know that members of the British Educational Supplies Association (BESA) have agreed that all classroom tables will comply with EN 1729 by April 2009 and we welcome this.