What to consider when designing a school dining hall
For many years, schools in the UK have underrated the impact that the humble school dining hall has over student motivation. To most people, dining at school has certain negative connotations. Recently school dining menus have had an upgrade, and students are widely encouraged to try more foods and eat healthily.
Dining, however, is so much more than just food. Your student’s learning experience can be greatly enhanced by making sure that their eating spaces are inspirational and promoting interaction between peers and students. These spaces are crucial to the social development of your students.
To ensure that your school dining hall is giving your students an inspiring experience, you will need to consider the following factors:
- Lighting – A bright airy space helps to enhance the dining experience. Ideally, natural light is best for enhancing wellbeing, but if this isn’t a possibility, there are a lot of lighting systems on the market these days that can replicate the brightness of daylight to remarkable effect.
- Ventilation – How does your school dining hall smell during lunch time? A lack of ventilation can lead to an accumulation of odours, which can make for an unpleasant dining experience. Being able to control the temperature also helps to keep the space comfortable when there are a lot of people using it.
- Furniture – Does your furniture suit its purpose? Is it the right size for those using it, and does it promote good manners and socialising? It is also important to allow for activities that the space is used for outside of lunch times, so it is wise to consider options like stackable chairs and folding tables.
- Design – Have you allowed for everyone that is going to be using the space? Long queues and congestion in dining spaces can be minimised through ingenious interior design. Table and chair configuration can be used to promote social interaction. Alternatively, if you would prefer a space that allows older students to work in an internet-café style atmosphere, then high benching and bar stools work well. The use of digital wallpaper or graphics can help to enthuse and inspire students at a minimal cost.
Encouraging staff to eat in the dining hall with the students is also beneficial. If your staff aren’t happy to spend time in the school refectory, could it be time to find out why? It is highly likely that your students will feel the same way too! Ensuring that your dining area is a clean and positive place to enjoy will help to improve motivation and behaviour amongst your students.
Over the years, we’ve had some success stories with dining hall refurbishment projects. We’ve shared 3 of our favourites:
Brewers Hill Middle School Dining Hall RefurbishmentThis Bedfordshire middle school dining hall refurbishment was success story in it’s own right. This bright, fresh design definitely helped to inspire their students. The school reported a significant improvement of behaviour throughout the school, along with a massive increase in school dinner take-up, thereby increasing income into the school.
Putney High School Refectory RefurbishmentThis independent girls school used a vibrant colour scheme, efficient lighting and digital wall art to create an inspiring space to eat. They chose top quality colourful furniture, so the space will stay looking great for years to come.
Westminster Cathedral Choir School Dining Hall RefurbishmentThe school dining hall at this central London school needed to be used for both pupil dining and parent events. We installed top quality furniture, that could be easily rearranged depending upon the requirements. Stackable chairs and flip-top tables meant easy reconfiguration. The use of large acoustic panels, printed with images of the students themselves helped to keep the noise down in this listed building, as well as inspiring the pupils.
If you’re looking for help with an upcoming school dining hall refurbishment, or if you simply have a question about how you could improve your space without excessive expenditure, then call us on 020 8997 9656 and one of our advisors will be happy to speak with you.