School dining room canopy with pupils eating inside

Outdoor canopies and the growing appetite for extra dining space

Posted on | Posted in Education


Schools focus: Outdoor canopies and the growing appetite for extra dining space

Is your dining room at full capacity every lunch time? Do your pupils struggle to find somewhere to sit because there’s not enough space? Perhaps they’re even spilling out of the canteen and into other parts of the school?

It’s a challenge faced by many schools up-and-down the country. Larger classroom sizes coupled with having to make do with existing facilities due to ongoing budget pressures, has resulted in less space over the years.

While the canteen may only be used for one to two hours each day, it’s an area that’s just as important as classrooms, even more so now that the atmosphere and culture within dining spaces and the effect it has on pupils’ behaviour is being assessed by Ofsted inspectors.


Finding an additional dining space solution that’s affordable, will create the right environment, meets the right standards and won’t cause too much disruption, isn’t easy

However, it depends on where you’re looking.

In recent years, we’ve worked with an increasing number of schools who’ve used our outdoor canopies to create extra dining areas for their pupils. They include Sir Stanley Matthews School in Stoke-on-Trent, who contacted us because they wanted to extend their dining area to help maximise their space and alleviate congestion at peak times. We installed one of our Cantabria canopies, which features a retractable roof and wall sides – a design feature that’s particularly effective when extending dining areas that are located on an outside edge.

More recently, we were approached by Wellington School in Timperley, who got in touch with us because they needed to create a sheltered area that was large enough to help take some of thestrain away from their busy canteen hall. We helped them create the much-needed dining space they needed by installing one of our Connekt umbrella canopies. (To find out more about this particular project, check out our case study).

dining canopies

In most circumstances, outdoor canopies can be used for more than their intended use. For instance, many schools find that they provide them with really useful storage space and, depending on where they’re situated, they can also double up as waiting areas for parents and pupils. Outdoor canopies also provide protection from the elements all year round, whether that’s from the heat of the sun, ice, wind, rain or snow.

Last but not least. Outdoor canopies are also quick and easy to install with minimum hassle. The vast majority of our installations are completed in just one to two days in line with the latest health and safety standards. And if space is especially tight or health and safety is of particular importance, we can install one of our cantilevered design systems, which means rather than being ground mounted (and the posts being a potential obstruction) the canopy can be wall-mounted – it’s a design that can be applied to our walkways too.

For more information or to discuss how we can help you instantly create additional dining space at your school, call us on 01254 777 002 or email us at