The Department for Education has the challenge to create the 420,000 new school places that are needed between 2016 and 2021 and there are a number of ways that this can be achieved. New schools are being built, free schools are being funded and existing schools are receiving capital funding to maintain, improve and expand facilities. With budgets being stretched, one way that schools are using this capital funding is to make the most of their outside space. Whether to build additional classrooms or to add sheltered spaces which can have a number of different uses.
Uses of outdoor sheltered areas –
• Outdoor dining areas
• All-weather sports pitches
• Outdoor classroom
• Cycle Shelter
• Outdoor theatre
The dining provision is one area that becomes quickly overcrowded when schools grow in pupil numbers. The creation of an outdoor dining canopy or standalone catering and dining hub can alleviate overcrowding in the kitchen and dining hall. When built with sides, heat and light, this can be a solution all year round, not just in the summertime.
Shade sails and tepees can create additional learning space outdoors, ensuring that children have access to a wide range of learning environments.
Cycle shelters can encourage pupils to cycle to school, reducing car use and traffic congestion. When a school grows, one thing that often happens is an unwelcome increase in traffic to the local area. The original size of the school would have taken this into consideration but local residents don’t always welcome the increase in traffic when a school grows. By adding safe and secure cycle storage, a growing school can try and minimise this impact to the local community as well as encouraging its pupils to exercise.
Outdoor sports multi-use games areas are a great way to provide space for all pupils to engage in sport. Indoor sports halls can become too small as a school grows and a Covered MUGA™ will offer protection from the elements throughout the year.