According to the government’s own figures, secondary school pupil numbers are predicted to be at 3,163,000 by 2028, a 37,000 rise on the statistic recorded for this year. Although this population is set to peak in a couple of years’ time, overall secondary pupil numbers in January 2023 will be 16% higher than a decade previously.
So, clearly, rising pupil numbers are piling the pressure on schools to admit more pupils in the same overall physical space, since budgetary and other considerations mean significant expansion is not always an option.
The good news is that there are various ways in which you can free up more room. An outdoor dining canopy, for example, provides additional seating for pupils so that the school can increase its intake of students.
When it comes to dining areas the government is perhaps more prescriptive than you may have realized This is the advice from their ‘Area Guidelines For Mainstream Schools’ (gov.uk)
“Dining area – The total area of spaces used for dining should allow 0.9m squared per ‘cover’, or dining place. The number of covers should be based on the predicted number of pupils who would eat lunch on site (including packed lunches) divided by the number of ‘sittings’ or equivalent (if continuous flow) in the lunch break. Crucially, the number of sittings will depend on the time available for lunch.”
Outdoor dining canopies
If your school’s dining hall is already cramped and over capacity, a dining canopy is an option you might not have previously considered. Significantly cheaper and quicker to erect than a completely new building or an extension, they can be installed in a matter of days or weeks with minimal disruption to your staff and pupils.
Planning ahead now can also avoid unintended consequences, like one Lancashire secondary who made headlines a couple of years ago, when they had no choice but to make pupils eat their lunch outside in the rain.
School dining canopies from us at Kensington Systems
At Kensington Systems, we offer the complete solution for outdoor dining, from full site survey (including advice on how best to use your outdoor space) and in-situ visualization of your new canopy, to completing all groundworks and providing picnic tables and benches.
Design Options include heating and lighting; we also provide fixed polycarbonate infill panels or automatic weatherproof blinds. For example, we installed these at the Ruth Gorse Academy in Leeds, whose architect asked us to create a large outdoor dining space for them. The resulting 14m x 10m freestanding modular canopy included flexible Enclosashade automated weatherproof blinds, allowing for covered eating whatever the weather.
The Spaceshade modular canopies we supply are perfect for creating a covered dining area, since it’s possible to fit them easily where space may be limited and therefore underused, such as courtyards.
Get in touch
You don’t need us to tell you that the lunch hour is an important part of the school day for all concerned. And we all have memories of being forced to eat in draughty gym halls!
Talk to us today about how a quality canopy could transform your dining area and create a sociable new space where pupils can enjoy their lunch and relax after their morning, ahead of the afternoon’s lessons.