We’ve been invited to the British Standards Institute (BSI) on Tuesday: it feels a little like being invited to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace! Their Education Furniture committee (which is responsible for the UK’s input into European standards for all types of educational furniture, as well as the preparation, revision and amendment of British Standards) is meeting, and dry-wipe surfaces are on the agenda. We’ve worked with Levent Çaglar, the chief ergonomist at the Furniture Industry Research Association who convenes both the BSI and CEN committees, in the development and testing of LearningSurface® so he knew we’d have a thing or two to say on the subject.
Add to that, we’ve just submitted the final draft of a feature on how whiteboard tables have become increasingly popular in schools to Learning Spaces Magazine, so it’s been a subject that’s been uppermost in our minds for all sorts of reasons. What became apparent, researching that feature, was that ICT hasn’t perhaps been the panacea it was once suggested it would be: the rise and subsequent fall of interactive whiteboards is possibly the best example. Of course ICT has and continues to present fantastic opportunities in education, but that hasn’t meant everything else has been brushed aside. “We [now] want”, we suggested in the feature “to revert to the visceral, instinctive action of picking up a pen and making a physical mark on a surface” which is why dry-wipe, whiteboard tables and wall panels are being seen in more and more next generation learning environments.
Our own whiteboard tables – the Heppell Bench and the Smile Table have both received particularly positive responses since we introduced them in January, and a new Reflect zone for primary-age learners which includes dry-wipe surfaces will be in production for summer installations (if you want to know more about us, get in touch). LearningSurface®, from which we manufacture all our dry-wipe whiteboard surfaces remains, we believe, the only surface from a UK education furniture manufacturer that’s been tested to BS EN 14434:2010 so of course we’re interested in whether those standards will change, and if so, how. Because it’s by the development, testing and adherence to standards that ensures schools don’t make costly mistakes. Whiteboard surfaces have to be wipeable and stain-free both on day one as well as five years down the line.