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What are the benefits of a multi-use dining area canopy?

If you haven’t come across these units previously, a multi-use dining canopy is simply one that also doubles up as a classroom or learning space outside of mealtimes.

These structures could bring your school a huge number of benefits, some of which you may not have previously considered, including:

  • Using the canopy as an extra classroom space

This is clearly important when schools are under significant pressure in terms of overcrowding, class size and teaching space. In recent years, the Guardian has reported on the results of a survey by a major teaching union, in which just over a fifth (21%) of teachers who responded said classrooms had been set up in Portakabins or by carving out space in other school areas. Meanwhile, more than half (55%) said there wasn’t enough room for staff and children to move around safely for effective learning.

A multi-use dining canopy would give your school a cost-effective extra learning area, which could prove invaluable if you’re accommodating larger class sizes. And because these structures aren’t actually in your school buildings, they’re particularly useful for messy activities or when kids are playing potentially noisy musical instruments, or when you just want students to focus on working on their own projects.

The benefits of outdoor learning are well documented, with one survey commissioned by Natural England finding that 92% of teachers surveyed said more than pupils were more engaged with learning when they were outdoors, while 85% also noticed a positive change in children’s behaviour.

outdoor dining canopy

  • Can also be used as a dining space

Clearly, lunchtime is a key part of the day, and gives the hours in school a structure, while eating a meal together is also important in terms of children learning to socialise with each other.

But school leaders report that more than half (54%) of schools do not have sufficient room to eat – there are more children in most schools than places where they can sit and have lunch, across primary and secondary schools.

This can cause issues with long queues blocking other areas of your school premises or, in the worst-case scenarios, pupils missing their lunch completely, being late for their next lesson or having nowhere comfortable to sit and eat and enjoy a proper break. Multi-use dining canopies solve all these problems at a stroke.

  • Cost-effectiveness

Canopies offer a much cheaper option than building an extension. What’s more, they can be put up far more quickly than a standard extension can.

  • Flexible use canopy

These structures can be used very flexibly – for example as storage space or for staff meetings when they’re not in use as classroom or dining areas.

  • Outdoor play

In primary schools, a canopy also provides the chance for outdoor play, all year round. And when it comes to play outside a conventional classroom, the advantages are again widely understood. A canopy provides a ‘free-flow’ environment giving children and staff access to the great outdoors all year round.

Not only do you have more space and fresh air for the kids, but it’s safe and dry underneath the structure, plus it’s cool with protection from the sun during the hottest months if pupils are moving around.

  • Solar Panel Potential

A dining canopy can provide an additional surface to install solar panels on, providing a source of sustainable, renewable energy for the school to use. Any excess electricity can be stored in batteries for later use or fed back into the grid via a Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). Installing a canopy which is suitable to have solar panels installed or retrofitted at a later date (like the Spaceshade® system) is one way to futureproof your investment in extra space.

outdoor dining canopy

Dining canopies from Kensington

At Kensington Systems, we’re a family-run firm supplying schools and others with innovative school canopy solutions to enhance their environments.

Talk to us today about our dining canopies and playground shelters, including our pioneering, SpaceShade® system, and discuss what we could do for your school.

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