Yes, I’ve seen it with my own eyes: an inspiring primary school which has managed to do away with desks, and yet have maintained an OFSTED outstanding rating.
To be fair: I did spot the odd desk or two in the corner of a few classrooms.
So why am I so excited? I’m excited because these classrooms with no desks encourage movement and physical activity around the classroom, and we know that moving around helps focus the brain in a way that sitting still never can. This is particularly the case for any child (or adult) with ADHD, for whom the extra stimulation provided by movement is a prerequisite to having a calmer brain, ready for learning.
Sir Ken Robinson author and educator points out that “Students with restless minds and bodies — far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity — are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences”. Prof John J Ratey has explained exercise develops the brain: literally, as soon as we start vigorous exercise our body starts to produce growth factors that spur the growth of new brain cells.
So I’m excited: this is a school that is showing us the way to a more healthy, creative, and ultimately successful approach to preparing our children for life!