With class sizes continuing to grow, many schools are seeing increasing pressure on their dining facilities, with some areas now too small to sit all pupils in a single lunch sitting. Other schools have been forced to repurpose parts of dining rooms – either on a temporary or permanent basis – to provide additional space for teaching or meetings.
Outdoor dining canopies can be the ideal solution. With the right design and build, they provide sheltered, outdoor areas for staff and pupils to congregate, and can even be used to add an entire additional room to the building.
The flexible options of a dining canopy
One of the main benefits of an outdoor canopy is its flexibility. There are several options available, allowing you to customise the design to your building, your grounds and your needs.
A free-standing canopy such as the Cantabria is an ideal way to provide an extension to your existing cafeteria. As an all-weather solution, with integrated LED lighting and heating, it offers additional dining space for staff and pupils all year round.
Projections from a wall can be customised to your specific requirements, and the Cantabria system is modular, creating a room size that fits perfectly with the available outdoor space.
Both the roof and the side screens can also be retracted by remote control, allowing you to open up the area during the summer and maximise space. This year-round use ensures an outdoor dining canopy is cost effective.
Sheltered dining areas around the school grounds
Whilst most schools would like to encourage more pupils to eat and socialise outside, particularly during the summer, the great British weather can never be relied upon. However, canopies like the Cantabria provide an affordable investment that transforms your outdoor areas.
That’s because they don’t just have to extend from the side of a building in a traditional way. Custom canopies can be used to create free-standing, separate rooms, located anywhere around the school that has flat ground.
These provide a separate additional room with much-needed cover for pupils – not just at lunchtime, but also during breaks. The sides and roof can also be retracted during the summer to offer a cool, shaded area, and the shelter could even double up as a covered waiting area for parents.
Expanding your dining facilities outside
Outdoor dining canopies aren’t just limited to use as a dining area. They are a cost-effective investment because they can also be used as an additional teaching space, a new area for meetings (for staff or pupils), a place for break-out groups, and even an outdoor classroom environment.
If you are considering a dining canopy, be sure to use a reputable provider with full accreditation. Guarantees should be offered on both the materials used in the construction and on the installation itself. Some companies, such as Canopies UK, can also customise colours to match the brand of your school, and even offer a payment plan to fit with your budget needs.
An outdoor canopy is the ideal way to reduce congestion in dining rooms and offer a superb covered area for staff and pupils. This ultimately improves the quality of break time for everyone, and will be beneficial when Ofsted visits.