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Classroom seating plans: 4 ways to better utilise yours

A seating plan tackles more than just a classroom arrangement, it's a fantastic behaviour-management tool too. Seating plans can impact an entire class and determine how groups perform throughout the term.

For instance, a typical ‘girl-boy-girl-boy’ seating plan is popular, but if boys are surrounded by girls who are more able, they risk becoming more introverted and will achieve less. Likewise, grouping inattentive children together is not best practice; young people that are grouped as the 'problem table’ initiates a self-fulfilling prophecy, as they feel judged from the very beginning.

If your school still uses paper-based seating plans

Firstly, there’s nothing inherently wrong with using a paper-based seating plan, but you’re certainly limited on the resources available to help better enhance your students’ learning.

Most sophisticated seating plan systems will integrate with your school’s Management Information System, which will pull through vital information about your students’ performance, predicted grades, historic assessment, behaviour data and SEND information, for example. With this information, you can start to build a performance-enhancing seating plan.

Online seating plans

If, like many schools, you are using an online platform to manage your class seating plans, here are 4 ways you can better utilise it:

1. Simply populate a seating plan

It’s not uncommon for teachers to not have any formal seating plans in place. Instead, they let students pick their seats at the very beginning.

Students will tend to sit next to their friends, which leads to a focus more on socialising and less on learning. As teachers get to know their group, they can pick out leaders and followers. This will ensure that two leaders are not in any one group, which will aid everyone’s learning.

Seating plan systems offer a feature that automatically sorts students into a seating plan based on the data you already have. Teachers can then update and amend as necessary throughout the school year. It saves teachers time and mixes up student groups, so they can learn from each other.

2. Using data

Record and report on behaviour and attendance data to optimise your seating plan.

SEND data can be displayed with need types and hyperlinks to important documents, such as IEP, ILPS, flight paths etc., allowing teachers access to this data at the click of a button.

3. Take advantage of tracking data

Teachers will know the sorts of students they have in their classes - their general attitude towards the subject, ability and effort levels.

This data is used to build an effective seating plan, as referenced above. 

4. Streamline homework setting

Many sophisticated seating plan systems also have a homework feature, which allows teachers to set and mark homework. It can save teachers hours of time in chasing late submissions.