A UK study conducted for outdoor classroom day found that 89% of children are happier when provided with outdoor learning environments. Indeed, attitudes towards outdoor learning are growing both in the UK and on an international scale, with 44% of teachers increasing the type and frequency of lessons taken outside.
However, with close to one-fifth of UK schools currently at or in excess of capacity, rising pupil intakes has increased the need for effective solutions to ease congestion across educational establishments. From large covered dining space to all-weather learning spaces, an outdoor canopy provides an effective solution for creating additional space, all while supporting the aims of schools & teachers to introduce additional outdoor learning opportunities.
Outdoor Canopy Benefits
1 . Provides Protection from the Elements
One of the immediate hindrances for UK schools is that, without appropriate cover, outdoor spaces are quickly exposed to the circumstance of unpredictable English weather. Outdoor canopies enable that level of crucial protection from the elements, whether that be UV rays or periods of inclement weather. For pupils and staff, this benefit is crucial as it enables them to utilise the space no matter the weather conditions.
2 . Provision of Outdoor Learning Environments
A covered outdoor classroom can be utilised to create a dynamic, versatile learning space with all the benefits of an outdoor setting. Teachers have room to be creative with their teaching methods, leading to more noteworthy lessons for pupils that can benefit their understanding of the subjects involved.
3 . Can Enhance Pupil Participation
88% of teachers reported their pupils were more engaged learning in outdoor environments. Establishing a fresh, new environment surrounded by nature and away from the constraints of the indoor classroom, can actively enhance pupil participation and lead to an increased concentration and engagement in lessons.
4 . Enhances Pupil Wellbeing
A UK study commissioned by the National Trust found that children today spend half as much time outside as their parents did, devoting only around 4 to 7 minutes to outdoor play on a daily basis, in contrast to an average 7 hours consuming electronic media. Establishing a stimulating outdoor space can help rebalance these worrying statistics, enabling a sense of wellbeing for pupils and helping to build foundations for personal development.
5 . Expands Dining Facilities
Limitations on existing dining facilities and a lack of sufficient space for pupils during lunchtime periods can lead to issues with concentration & behaviour, as well as impacting healthy eating initiatives. Short-term solutions like staggered lunch times can then impact scheduling for pupils and staff, and potentially incur additional costs for student supervision. In contrast, the integration of an outdoor canopy can expand a school’s dining facilities, creating valuable outdoor dining areas for pupils and breakout space for schools.
6 . Offers Multi-purpose Use
Fully capable of operating as effective multi-purpose spaces, outdoor canopies offer year-round advantages. Depending on the size of the canopy involved, a little planning can help these structures to be utilised as an informal dining space, outdoor classroom space, and areas to hold assemblies and outside performances, as well as offering space for extra-curricular activities and community events.
7 . Maximises Under-utilised Space
Whether utilised as an extension to an existing building or as a standalone structure on school grounds, through effective space planning outdoor canopies offer schools the means to maximise under-utilised space. In turn, offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional bricks and mortar construction, typically a process that requires significant investment both in terms of time and financial resources.
8 . Have that Architectural ‘Wow’ Factor
For educational bodies, prospective students, and other visitors, the external environment will be the first point of reference for a school and can be considered just as integral as a school’s internal facilities. With a variety of different architectural forms and designs, integrating an outdoor canopy can help create a striking first impression.
9 . Can be Integrated as Parent Waiting Shelters or Covered Walkways
The end of any school day can be one of commotion as parents, often juggling their own schedules, wait to greet scores of excitable children eager to depart the school premises. A parent waiting shelter can provide a designated area and essential weather protection during these periods. In addition, integrating an outdoor canopy as a covered walkway ensures staff and children are afforded the same protection as they move between buildings across school sites.