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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

C.—School Furniture

C.—School Furniture.

Dual Desks.—The most important articles of school furniture are the scholar's desk and seat. In earlier days the scholars sat in rows, on a long backed seat in front of a long desk. The main objection to this arrangement was that the teacher could not have access to the pupil, and that the pupil could not reach or leave his seat without inconvenience to others. Moreover, in this arrangement the various objects for which the desk has to be used were not sufficiently considered. In the abstract it would appear that the best form of desk would be the single desk; but the objections to this are two-fold: firstly, that a class-room of single desks would necessarily have to be increased in size, and, secondly, the cost would be excessive. When planning their earlier schools, the School Board for London gave careful attention to this question, and had the advantage of the advice of Dr. R. Liebreich, of St. Thomas's Hospital. Ultimately they decided upon the dual desk and seat (i.e., a desk and seat for two scholars), of which the following are the main advantages:—The teacher has access to the scholar, and the scholar can leave his seat or return to it without interfering with any other scholar. In the case of the old desk, it was necessary, in order that the scholar might stand in his place, that the desk should be at some distance from the seat, the result of which was that the pupil, whenever writing, was compelled to lean forward, and so contract his chest. In the dual desk, as at present designed, the inner edge of the desk is vertically above the outer edge of the seat, so that the scholar can write without ineonvenience. Further, by an arrangement which admits of a part of the desk being turned upwards, the scholar is enabled to stand, without leaving his place. And again, the desk, in consequence of this arrangement, has two different angles—one in its original position for writing, and the other at a greater angle for resting the books when reading. Moreover, the seat is so arranged as to slope upwards from rear to front, and has a rail which fits into the hollow of the scholar's back, thus affording complete rest when the child is sitting and reading or listening to the lessons of his teacher. The desk is also fitted with a shelf for books, and with a recess for slates.

In an ordinary class-room, with accommodation for sixty children, there would be six files and five rows of desks (or, in a square room, five files and six rows); in a class-room for ninety, nine files and five rows, and so on.

10.Details of desks—six sheets, mounted.
The following are hung in all the schools of the Board:—
11.Time Table, setting out the subjects and times of instruction.
12.Sections 7 and 14 of the Elementary Education Act of 1870, which define a public elementary school and a Board School.
13.Regulations of the Board in regard to Bible Instruction and Religious Observances.
14.Jieyulations of the Board in regard to Infectious Diseases.
15.Duties of Schoolkeepers.