6 Steps To Create Effective Seating Plans

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Holly Gardner

Holly Gardner is TT Editor, as well as a Freelance Publisher. She has been working with @TeacherToolkit for over 6 years - since she published his first book in her role as Senior Commissioning Editor at Bloomsbury Publishing. Since then, she left her day job,...
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Why are seating plans so important?

We all know the important influence that classroom layout has on pupil behaviour, but too many teachers continue to overlook the power of the seating plan.

Research from Montana State University has clearly shown a huge attainment increase for the lower ability students, with no detrimental impact on the high ability pupils when teachers set up a mixed ability seating plan. (Source)

Source: Angela Jean Hammang, 2012

Few teachers ignore the importance of a seating plan, but some simply opt for sorting students into alphabetical order and forgetting about it for the rest of the year. As bad habits slip in, students and teachers become comfortable and requests to “sit next to my friend: I’ll work better” are granted before chaos ensues. (Ross Morrison McGill)

6 Seating Plan Solutions

As a design technologist working in a carousel system at key stage 3, as subject specialists, we are very accustomed to revising seating plans every 6-12 weeks. Why? Because we have to. The requirement to handover information to another teacher mid-year, ensures that seating plans are carefully considered as part of the planning process. Teachers, at all costs, must use seating plans religiously and link seating locations to current data. Having a ‘secure overview’ of the starting and end points of all students, as well as their ability in the subject, should develop a data-rich classroom that is carefully mapped out. (McGill)

Below we explore the ‘Instant Seating Plans and Effective Behaviour Management’ section of Class Charts alongside the 6 key benefits of a good seating plan. It can take hours to get a seating plan right and it’s also hard to measure if they have been truly successful. With the aid of Class Charts you can do this work in just 2 clicks of a button.

Class Charts is the only software that can actually identify how students influence each other in the classroom and automatically suggest seating plans optimised for learning and behaviour.

Would you like to see how Class Charts works?

1. Ability

As shown above, research proves that arranging your higher and lower ability pupils assists the low ability pupils’ learning, without having a detrimental effect on the higher ability children. Sitting them in mixed-level groups encourages peer-to-peer learning and group work can be encouraged based on ability of the pupils.

With Class Charts you don’t need to spend hours with test scores and pen and paper. With 2 clicks of a button, Class Charts can sit high and low ability pupils together, differentiated using your data of choice, be it assessment, core pupil data or behaviour scores.

2. Data Rich

Having key data within easy reach is an important factor when creating seating plans. It allows teachers to be aware of student needs and abilities at a glance. Once a data rich seating plan is created for a class, you can ensure that in the absence of the teacher, a substitute teacher can easily be informed of the pupils’ capabilities and needs.

Class Charts analytics will give you an overview of data throughout the school, with the option to visually represent it by tutor group, year group, subject or house. You can spot at a glance those children who need extra support and customise the information for your class, for example by colour coding students’ cards.

3. Influences

Knowing which pupils have a positive and negative influence is crucial when it comes to organising your class seating plan. Think about which pupils work well together and which ones do not and have a seating plan that allows for pupils to work and enjoy the classroom experience to the maximum.

Class Charts Artificial Intelligence Engine learns about how pupils influence each other in the classroom and seating plans can be optimised based on behaviour, boy/girl interaction, progress targets and current English grade at the click of a button. Class Charts analytics not only analyses the interactions of students within a certain class but it can expand the influences from all the classes the pupils are in, providing an overall insight to which pupils work together effectively.

4. Consistency

This is key when using seating plans at your school. Tips for improving consistency include  ensuring seating plans are always used in the classroom and they are displayed on the board when entering the room. Pupils thrive on consistency and once a good routine is established you can guarantee the  learning in the classroom is maximised to its full capacity.

5. Peer to Peer Learning

Through using seating plans you can easily arrange pupils to encourage group work and alongside this, peer-to-peer learning.  Research proves that there are many benefits to peer teaching, including reinforcing pupil’s own learning by instructing others, encouraging a more individualised form of learning and promoting student interaction.


6. Gender

Although not always a popular choice amongst pupils, organising your seating plan with a boy, girl arrangement can prove to be an effective approach. Alternatively you may prefer the approach for pupils to work in groups, therefore splitting the whole class up into mixed gender groups.


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How do you consider your seating plans? Take a look at Class Charts to reduce your staff’s workload.

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