dining canopies

Contract caterers easing lunchtime crowds in UK schools

Posted on | Posted in Commercial, Education

UK schools are struggling for dining space

The scale of the problem was underlined by research we carried out speaking to school leaders at the Schools and Academies Show in 2019. We asked senior school leaders about the challenges they face with dining space, and the responses revealed:

  • 54% consider dining capacity to be a major issue within their school
  • There’s an average of 2.14 pupils to every available dining seat

Since then, we’ve helped many schools to extend their space and ease lunchtime pressures with outdoor canopies. But there are still a great many schools struggling with the problem. Lack of dining space causes numerous issues, including:

  1. Kids not getting chance to sit and eat
  2. Kids choosing to go off-site for meals
  3. Delays to afternoon classes due to overrunning
  4. Schools juggling staggered lunch breaks
  5. Long queues and congestion in corridors
  6. Kids spending breaks outside in poor weather
  7. More staff needed to supervise
  8. Arguments and hostility

Outdoor dining canopies create the dining space needed to seat every pupil, easing a great deal of the pressure felt at lunchtime. They are used throughout the school week beyond lunchtimes, providing extra space for lessons, studying, activities, and events.

outdoor dining for schools

Teaming up with contract caterers

Outdoor dining canopies are a fraction of the cost of a building extension. But there is still a cost, and not every school has the budget set aside. In these instances, we’ve seen contract caters step in and cover the cost of the canopy as part of their contract with the school.

What are the benefits to the caterer?

  • Long term partnerships with schools
  • Differentiating from competitors
  • Appealing to new target schools
  • Encourage kids and staff to dine
  • Increased sales during breaks

The mutually beneficial arrangement has helped several of our customers get the dining canopy their school needs, rather than settling for a less effective option.

outdoor dining for schools

school shelter canopies

Caterlink for Winstanley College

After winning the catering contract at Winstanley College in Wigan, Caterlink wanted to address the lack of dining space. Caterlink saw an opportunity to create more space to serve more students during break and lunchtimes. The college wanted a multi-purpose room for use during free periods.

We installed a Cantabria dining canopy system, featuring glass sides and a retractable roof. Students have an additional area they use in all weathers. The school are so pleased with the system they named it the ‘Garden Room’ and use it for studying, breaks, and events like parents evening.

Our Cantabria canopy provides us with an outdoor dining area and a student space that’s used regularly by many of our students in all weathers. In the winter, it’s still warm enough to use, as the glass sides keep out the cold. In the summer, the roof and the walls can be opened back to let in the fresh air and sunshine.” Winstanley College

As you can see, teaming up to ease overcrowding is a viable option for schools and contract caterers alike. The benefits are mutual and most of all, they better serve the needs of pupils and staff.

We hope you’ve found this article useful. Find out more about outdoor dining canopies here. Contact us on 01254 777 002 or info@canopiesuk.co.uk.