Norway school swaps chairs for rubber balls

A school in Norway has replaced chairs with large rubber exercise balls — and the pupils love it.

Norway school swaps chairs for rubber balls
No more chairs for the pupils at Norway's Bjerkreim School. Photo: Screen Grab from Ball Vs Chair
Dag Voigt, the headmaster of Bjerkreim School in Rogaland, south of Stavanger, decided to experiment with the balls with two classes back in 2005 after a local physiotherapist Tore Jakobsen came to him with the idea. 
According to a documentary on the initiative, Ball versus Chair,  the children quickly developed better core muscles and stronger backs, without any adverse impact on their studies. 
The school now uses balls instead of chairs for all pupils between the ages of 10 and 13, arguing that as the balls are actually cheaper than chairs, it is not a major additional cost. 
interviewed for the documentary, Jakobsen said that the benefits appear to come simply from increasing the movement children made during lessons. 
“It’s to get more movement into the every day in school — that’s basically the thought,” he said. “The more movement children get into their day the better, but none of this has been scientifically proven.” 
Ball vs Chair (Ball vs Stol) was made by the Oslo-based film company Heisholt Inc, and has been broadcast on the website of the Aftenposten newspaper
Terese Aalborg, the film's director, said that she had had the idea when she was researching ways to improve school for her own daughter, who found it hard sitting still in the classroom. 
She said pupils at the school had all said they liked having balls in the classroom. 
“Everyone I talked to loved it: they wouldn’t go back to sitting on chairs,” she said. “A ball is softer, a chair is very hard, it’s very static and you can’t move very easily. They could see that they were getting stronger. They could really feel the difference.” 


Bavaria plans 100 million rapid Covid tests to allow all pupils to return to school

In the southern state of Bavaria, schools have been promised 100 million self-tests starting next week so that more children can start being taught in person again. But teachers say the test strategy isn't being implemented properly.

Bavaria plans 100 million rapid Covid tests to allow all pupils to return to school
Children in the classroom in Bavaria. Photo:Matthias Balk/DPA

State leaders Markus Söder said on Friday that the first 11 million of the DIY tests had already arrived and would now be distributed through the state.

“It’s no good in the long run if the testing for the school is outside the school,” Söder told broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) during a visit to a school in Nuremberg.

“Contrary to what has been planned in Berlin, we’ve pre-ordered in Bavaria: for this year we have 100 million tests.”

Bavaria, Germany’s largest state in terms of size, plans to bring all children back into schools starting on Monday.

SEE ALSO: ‘The right thing to do’ – How Germany is reopening its schools

However, high coronavirus case rates mean that these plans have had to be shelved in several regions.

In Nuremberg, the state’s second largest city, primary school children have been sent back into distance learning after just a week back in the classroom.

The city announced on Friday that schools would have to close again after the 7-day incidence rose above 100 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The nearby city of Fürth closed its schools after just two days of classroom time on Wednesday, after the 7-day incidence rose to 135.

The Bavarian test strategy plans for school children to receive one test per week, while teachers have the possibility of taking two tests a week. The testing is not compulsory.

But teachers’ unions in the southern state have warned that the test capacity only exists on paper and have expressed concern that their members will become infected in the workplace.

“Our teachers are afraid of infection,” Almut Wahl, headmistress of a secondary school in Munich, told BR24.

“Officially they are allowed to be tested twice a week, we have already received a letter about this. But the tests are not there.”

BR24 reports that, contrary to promises made by the state government, teachers in many schools have still not been vaccinated, ventilation systems have not been installed in classrooms, and the test infrastructure has not been put in place.