Canopies helping transform school environments

Canopy at Coney Hill Primary School by Fordingbridge

Play is hugely important in almost every area of children’s lives.

It improves social skills, brain development and creativity whilst supporting emotional resilience, physical development, self-confidence and learning. Early years research has shown the importance of play, but many early years settings and schools still fail to create the kind of rich play environments and experiences that can unlock these benefits for children.

In recent years, however, a growing number of schools and settings have chosen to install canopies on their sites – they are popular because there is an expectation by Ofsted that children should be able to play, and enjoy activities, outdoors, in all weathers – like this application at Durrington First School. And rightly so – the following points highlight just a few of the many benefits to children of learning outside the classroom…

Physical development

Outdoor play is vital for children’s physical health and development – and carefully thought-out grounds will encourage more physical play. This is especially important for those children who can only access a safe outdoor play space at nursery or school.

Building confidence

Your setting or school’s grounds provide a safe space where children can spend free time away from adult control, which is very important in a child’s development. The presence of external shelter can help safeguard available activities against the inclement British weather and help build children’s confidence all year round. Coney Hill Primary is a perfect example of an integration of a canopy on safe school grounds.

Emotional wellbeing

Outdoor spaces are the part of your site that most naturally belong to children. Being outdoors can be a source of joy for youngsters of all ages, re-connecting them with nature, giving them freedom to run, feel the wind on their faces, and build dens and splash in puddles.

Community engagement

Your school grounds can be shared with your local community, offering a resource for local people too. Community use of external structures, like the one shown at Kaizen Primary School, can create additional income streams and enable further spend on other important areas.

Learning & discovery

Young children learn outside the classroom every day, whether that’s on your site or on off-site trips. Planned activities or sessions for children can be delivered inside and outside, and maybe across both.

Planning a school grounds improvement involving children and adults could help you get the most out of your outdoor spaces. Many schools and settings utilise a canopy as an extension to their classrooms, which can help seamlessly integrate inside and outside learning – a great example of this is Bersted Primary School in West Sussex.

Nature & sustainability

Your site can contribute much to the natural environment and in some cases may represent the only available green space in the surrounding area. The biodiversity of different habitats outside can help children learn about nature and sustainability too. External structures are also capable of incorporating green roofs, further enhancing biodiversity.

Transform your outdoors

The best outdoor spaces take children’s physical, social, emotional and learning into account and aim to provide a safe and secure area that offers shade and shelter, helping adults and children alike to embrace the weather as an asset. With over 50 years of experience in creating outdoor spaces, Fordingbridge can help you transform your environment.

Excellent design of educational buildings and grounds play a vital role in ensuring that children reach their full potential. Early years settings’ facilities, in particular, need to be attractive, inspiring and functional all year round, to contribute to an enjoyable teaching and learning experience. Fordingbridge offer a complete design and build service taking your concept from initial enquiry through to handover on site.

To arrange a FREE, no obligation site visit, contact us or alternatively, visit our education projects page for more inspiration.

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