According to the latest figures released by the Department for Education, average secondary school class sizes have risen four years in a row as the number of pupils continues to grow.
As space continues to become more of a precious commodity within the education sector alongside ongoing financial challenges, many schools and colleges are being more creative with their space. For many, this has involved generating extra room for study, dining and play and using their outdoor space all-year-round – all of which they’ve achieved, simply by installing one or more outdoor canopies.
Here, Jason Eastwood, Managing Director of Canopies UK, leading installer, designer and manufacturer of outdoor canopies, who’s installed more than 5000 canopies at UK schools and colleges, discusses the most popular education canopy designs.
Modular systems have always been a popular choice among schools and colleges because they can be as long or as short as you need them to be. There are freestanding canopies that don’t need to be attached to or supported by other structures. They can also be designed so that the supporting posts are at the back, minimising the risk of obstruction. Alternatively, there are wall-mounted canopies, that can be installed without supporting posts, making them the ideal solution for playgrounds and areas that attract a lot of passing footfall.
Outdoor canopies can be as versatile as you want them to be and 100% tailored to a school’s/college’s individual needs, space requirements and budget. The modular structure can also be adapted to create all different types of canopy solutions, ranging from walkways, entrances, outdoor and parent waiting canopies, to car parks, outdoor play, outdoor learning and sport spectator canopies.
Meanwhile, while many of our education sector customers want to install canopies to protect their parents, pupils and staff from the bad weather, many of them don’t realise outdoor canopies are just as effective at providing much-needed protection in the summer. For instance, those with a Melinex gel-coated roof can block out 90% of the sun’s harmful UV rays.
The beauty of these state-of-the-art canopies is that, contrary to popular belief, they can be used in both the summer and the winter. For instance, one of our canopies features a retractable roof that can be opened and closed at the touch of a button. Schools and colleges can choose whether they want fixed, folding, sliding, balustrade or internal glass sides and, once fully closed, the frame, guttering, roof and glass screens create a UV-protected environment. It can withstand wind speeds of up to 60km/h when fully closed and is fitted with LED lighting and heating, creating a self-contained space that’s still warm enough to use in the winter.
Outdoor canopy design has evolved to continuously meet the needs of the education sector, providing schools and colleges with the extra space they need while also enabling them to get more use from their outdoor areas for more than just a few months of the year.