You don’t need us to tell you that the lunch hour is a key part of the school day. And pupils who have a balanced, healthy diet with high-quality, freshly prepared food are a lot more likely to remain alert in lessons and enjoy being active outside the classroom.
Lunchtime is also important in terms of socialising with peers and learning how to behave when enjoying a group meal outside the home.
When the weather allows, there are also huge benefits to dining outside. Extensive research shows that being outdoors reduces heart rate and blood pressure while minimising stress hormones and boosting concentration and creativity as well as levels of Vitamin D.
If you’d like children at your school to experience better lunchtimes but are not sure how to go about it, an outdoor dining canopy could provide the best of all worlds, offering protection from the weather plus the benefits of being in the open air.
Why choose an outdoor dining canopy
Taking the pressure off the queue
Schools are often busy places, with space at a premium. An outdoor dining canopy provides an extra area in which to serve and seat students during the lunch hour. Obviously, it gives everyone more room, and so ends queuing out of the dining hall and into the corridor.
One informal survey of school leaders found the overwhelming majority (just over 90%) reported that dining space was an issue in their schools.
With a canopy, everyone has space and time to enjoy their lunch, either packed or served at school, without feeling rushed. You could rotate year groups who use the canopy so everyone gets a chance to have an al fresco lunch, perhaps seating some students indoors so that you only need to have one sitting for the meal. Having all pupils eating at the same time makes them easier to supervise and lesson timetabling easier.
And if there isn’t enough dining space for students to sit comfortably and enjoy their lunch, they could be tempted to wander off-site and even to skip the meal completely. Equally, important that there is enough room for everyone to sit where they want, with their friends.
Additional dining space also gives the school space to increase pupil capacity, with many under pressure from local authorities to increase their intake to meet the demand in the area.
Quicker and cheaper than building a dining hall
Building a new dining hall is time-consuming and expensive. The school may not have the space or the funds to expand indoor dining space – an outdoor dining canopy is a perfect solution.
Depending on the size, the canopy installation and all included groundworks can be completed in weeks, not months – for example, the summer holidays are a perfect time to get a new canopy installed ready for the new term.
Year-round protection from the elements
School dining canopies are sturdy structures, designed for use whatever the weather. So you won’t have to change arrangements to suit the weather, or have different dining plans according to the season.
They’re safe and secure, and can incorporate side walls, heating or lighting in a highly cost-effective way.
If you want flexibility, it’s possible to install retractable outdoor blinds which can be raised in the summer and lowered in the winter, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of being outside all year round.
Glass or polycarbonate side walls provide fixed weather protection which is very durable. In addition, doors can be fitted to create a completely enclosed outdoor room.
Clearly, you’ll get immediate extra dining capacity. But these structures can be used for other purposes as well, for example as a teaching or learning space during other times of the school day. So they are a versatile way of using space.
A separate space
It is important that kids eat somewhere that’s separate to where they learn, and are not, for example, opening lunchboxes in the classroom. An outdoor dining canopy provides exactly that.
Many schools also choose to invest in outdoor catering trucks along with the canopy, giving students the opportunity to purchase healthy food on site.
Outdoor dining canopies from Kensington Systems
Kensington Systems is a leading provider of outdoor dining canopies and shelters for schools, based in Bristol but trusted UK-wide. We offer long-lasting, low-maintenance designs and include all groundworks in our prices.
Get in touch if space is running out at your school, especially at lunchtime, and expanding inside is no longer an option. Our structures come in eco-friendly laminated timber, or top-quality aluminium with polycarbonate roof panels.
We’ll work closely with you, to create an outdoor dining canopy to suit your specific needs, and which everyone at your school will love.
Get in touch today for a free site survey.