Shade structures at schools

Providing shade is your responsibility as a board of trustees. The Ministry does not recommend installing shade sails because they bring both risks and costs. Installing a veranda is another way of providing shade and can also create an outdoor learning area.

Providing shade

Sun hazards can be managed in a number of ways, for example by having all students wear hats when outdoors, or providing shade with trees or structures. We do not specify how you provide shade over sandpits and other outdoor areas, as the best solution will vary for different sites and different parts of the country.

The key challenge in designing shade structures is that New Zealand schools need shade to be warm rather than cool. You should consider orientation, shade material (eg deciduous trees, polycarbonate sheeting), height and depth to ensure ultraviolet radiation is blocked without making the space too cold to be comfortably used.

The Cancer Society’s SunSmart Schools website has more information shade in schools (external link) , including guidance on materials, structures and the best shade trees in the North and South Islands

Installing shade sails

Most shade sails, or sunshades, are open-sided structures, with a top cover made from a flexible material, such as canvas or a plastic product. We don't recommend installing shade sails because they:

  • have a limited life span
  • are costly to install
  • often put too much strain on the parts of the buildings they are attached to
  • can be damaged or cause damage during extreme weather conditions.

Hazards of shade sails

With a shade sail, there is a risk that someone may climb on to it, and fall off it or through it. You need to minimise this risk by making it difficult to climb on to the structure. For example, do not build it near:

  • trees, or
  • any other structure or equipment that someone could use to climb on to it.

Paying for shade sails

Shade sails are a 5 Year Agreement (5YA) funding priority 4 project (see: Step 3: Consider inputs at the 10YPP initiation meeting).

You can pay to install shade sails with board funding, such as fundraising or a community grant. If you do, you must also use board funding to pay for their maintenance.

Insuring shade sails

You must use board funding to pay for insurance for shade sails. The Ministry’s School Building Insurance Funding Programme does not cover shade sails.

Installing verandas

If you decide to build a permanent structure to provide shade, such as a veranda, you should:

  • attach it to the main building structure
  • cover it with permanent material or translucent plastic sheeting
  • if possible, use it to help to reduce glare to classrooms and create indoor-outdoor flow.

Verandas can also be ideal as outdoor learning areas.

Paying for verandas

Verandas are a 5YA priority 3 project if they are part of creating an outdoor learning area. If the veranda is part of a roof replacement project, this will be priority 2 (see: Step 3: Consider inputs at the 10YPP initiation meeting).

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