Extending The Bench of Friendship
At the start of the Trinity Term, Mr Case (Paul Case Furniture) and his skilled craftsmen created this bespoke item for us.
Throughout the design process, we were keen to install a piece of furniture that was original, long-lasting and used high quality materials. We have high standards at QEGS and wanted to avoid the benches that you commonly see in schools that start to look tatty quite quickly.
When our staff discussed and observed friendship benches at other schools, there were some obvious pitfalls: the cheaper benches only lasted for short periods of time, requiring constant maintenance to keep them looking smart; many of the 'nuts and bolts' came loose, in some cases causing injury to the pupils; and the materials used rotted or rusted, making them look unsightly and unfit for positive and friendly interactions. In some unfortunate cases, the benches, due to the light materials used, were stolen.
The naturally warm oak and steel design will ensure that this bench is in situ for many years to come. Mr Case designed and produced the seating at Brockholes Nature Reserve and we were keen to mimic the ideas seen there. The wood will weather naturally and will not require constant upkeep to keep it looking fresh. The choice of materials will ensure that it withstands all weathers and, of course, the daily use of the pupils in Infants and Juniors. We are also pleased with the natural hues of the oak, as they are in keeping with the leafy surroundings of the Adventure Playground. Studies also show that such natural colours help with one's wellbeing and this natural-coloured material, rather than bright primary colours, helps to assist in keeping emotions calm, should pupils choose to use it as a place to reflect or 'take time out'.
It really is a 'friendship' bench; a typical friendship bench that you might encounter allows children - perhaps three or four at a push - to sit alongside each other. Our bench offers multiple seating arrangements: back-to-back, next to, above and below. This benefits many more children than an 'off the peg' bench can and alleviates any child feeling left out. We are sure that the children will benefit from the space that the seating affords.
Mr Case has said that he will only be charging the school for the materials used and not for the time that his team have taken to design, create and place this bespoke piece of furniture in our grounds.
We are delighted with its addition to the school, and are very grateful for the time that Mr Case and his team put into its design and construction and, of course, the donations from parents and guardians.