Bespoke Canopy Solutions For Schools Seeking Additional Learning Space
As pupil intakes in England continue to rise year-on-year, so the need for schools to accommodate larger student numbers becomes ever more urgent. Lawson King, Contracts Manager at Clovis Canopies in Kent, looks at two recent school projects where canopies were used to create much-needed additional space in a safe, secure and cost-effective way.
The challenge for schools
Latest Department for Education figures shows there has been a growth in pupil numbers in schools in England since 2010. In 2015, an additional 107,000 pupils enrolled in schools nationwide, a one per cent increase on the previous year.
This steady increase has placed an ever-growing strain on schools across the country that might be affecting pupil attainment. Recent reports have revealed that 520,445 UK primary pupils are now being taught in super-size classrooms – classes with over 31 students – up 20,000, equating to four per cent, from 2014.
Research has suggested that the larger the number of pupils per classroom, the more there is a negative impact on attainment.
That’s one of the reasons that schools are looking to create additional space for learning. But with council purse strings tightened like never before, rather than resort to the construction of costly new buildings to lighten the pupil load, we’re being asked to find evermore resourceful methods to make better use of existing space to help improve the learning environment.
Clovis Canopy helps two become one
We’ve found that a lot of co-located infant and junior schools are pooling their resources by amalgamating. This process usually necessitates the design, manufacture and installation of a network of covered walkways to ensure the separate schools are joined together.
We carried out such a project at Oaklands Primary Academy in Biggin Hill, Kent.
With the infants’ site situated on a steep hill, the challenge facing our designers and engineers was to create a canopy which negotiated a set of stairs and a 40ft drop to the neighbouring site whilst offering “turn-off” points to other buildings. This potentially convoluted project had to be completed in just six weeks during the school holiday to ensure students began the new term at the newly-opened Academy.
The project presented a lot of challenges due to the various changes in elevation and direction. There was an incredible drop which had to be catered for in the design, but as we are one of the few companies to offer a bespoke canopy service, the challenges were comfortably overcome. Oaklands now has an attractive, all-weather canopy which connects the two sites.
Clovis Canopy makes feat of 'redundant area'
Dyson Perrins Sports CofE Academy in Malvern, Worcestershire, required a larger dining space for its pupils which involved converting a redundant internal courtyard. We were asked to provide a large barrel-vaulted canopy to create an all-weather dining area over the previously ‘dead space’. With speed of the essence, the canopy had to be erected during term-time and without disruption to student lessons or break-times.
To meet this challenge, our engineers were required to convey materials and machinery through inner areas of the school. To protect the building during these heavy manoeuvres and large excavations of soil from the courtyard, the team boarded the school’s floors. They were then able to transport steel to the site and erect the canopy without a moment’s distraction to school life.
The internal courtyard was previously somewhere for the kids to hang around in, but now they have a secure, stylish alfresco dining area which they can use regardless of whether the sun’s shining. It’s a wonderful use of a previously underused area. The canopy is not only cost effective; it’s added real value to the school in terms of what it has achieved.
As Britons prepare to go to the polls and vote on future EU participation, there can be no knowing what pressure our schools may be under to provide spaces for our children in years to come. Whatever challenges lie ahead, Clovis Canopies has a myriad of bespoke solutions to meet them.