Classroom Table Arrangement Choices

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Hanna Beech

Hanna Beech has been teaching for ten years and has a range of experience across Key Stages 1 and 2 in a large Primary School in Kent. She is a phase leader for Years 3 and 4, and also leads on teaching and learning for...
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How should you organise the desks in your classroom?

The debate around classroom seating arrangements could go on forever so we won’t go down that road! All I will say is: seat and let seat. How teachers structure their classrooms ought to be their choice.

With that in mind, here are some of the options you have!

Take a seat

  1. Rows: Considered more traditional or ‘old school’ by some, but many teachers swear by seating in rows. Research by Hasting and Schweiso (1995) indicated that pupils are more engaged in their task when seated in rows. Many disagree
  2. Horse shoe / Semi-circle: This seating position allows all pupils to look towards each other or the teacher in semi-circle shape. Marx, Fuhrer & Hartig (1999) found that this seating generates a higher number of questions from pupils. This can take up a fair amount of space so might not work well in smaller classrooms.
  3. Pairs: Seating pupils in pairs simply means having two pupils sharing a table and keeping each paired table separate. This approach is a variation of row seating and is traditionally used for testing, although not too uncommon for day to day lessons too. Benefits might include focused paired collaboration, whilst maintaining the focus element of rows.
  4. Groups: This seating arrangement is useful when you want pupils to work as a collective. Disadvantages include increase of off-topic talk and a reduction in focus.

Why is it an important strategy?

Thinking about how you want to position pupils in your classroom can impact their learning.


Remember, seating arrangements are not final! You can always mix seating arrangements up by changing the tables to suit the tasks you are doing.

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