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Shade sails, also known as tensile fabric canopies, are a blessing that every school needs.

Whether you’ve heard of a shade sail before or not, you will have seen one. But do you have one in your school?

If you don’t, you’re missing out on an opportunity to provide inspiration and comfort to your students and staff and encourage your students to spend more much needed time outdoors, which can even enhance academic performance!

Keep on reading to find out what shade sails are, why they’re so popular and how to incorporate them into your school.

What Are Shade Sails?

Shade sails are tensile fabric canopies that provide shade and protection from the sun and light protection from other elements like rain. 

If you’ve seen a ship’s sail, then you have an idea on what a shade sail looks like because they’re very similar in design and appearance. That’s because a ship’s sail is the inspiration for the technology behind shade sails. However, a shade sail lies horizontally rather than vertically, like a sail.

Most sail shade installations are permanent, though it’s not unusual to see temporary sails in private homes and gardens. Schools and other professional establishments will require a professionally installed, permanent installation.

What Are Shade Sails Made Of?

Professionally designed and permanent school shade sails usually feature shade cloth or waterproof PVC fabric. 

Shade Cloth: Is a strong and durable fabric designed for tensile shade sails. It provides high levels of up to 98% UV protection.

PVC Fabric: Very strong and long-lasting waterproof fabric. With many colour options!

The supports for shade sails are usually constructed with aluminium or galvanised steel and are either upright or curved. Most shade sails are either supported on a base or installed into precast sockets.

How Are Shade Sails Typically Used?

The primary purpose of shade sails is to provide shade. They protect people from the sun, especially those featuring high UV protection fabric, which is why they’re perfect for schools.

Aside from providing shade, tensile shade sails have a few additional benefits:

  • They create opportunities to spend more time outdoors. 
  • Enhances the school’s aesthetics and creates exciting focal points.
  • They are perfect for providing shelter for studying or dining.

How Can You Use Shade Sails In Your School?

Once you start looking into tensile shade sails for your school, you’ll discover plenty of school-enhancing opportunities to use them.

Here are a few examples:

Playground Shade Sails

Adding a playground shade sail to your school brings you peace of mind that you are providing ample sun protection to your students while they are playing outdoors. They will also bring adequate shelter from light rain which will give you more scope for encouraging students to spend time outdoors even during light showers.

Playground shade sails look fantastic too.

Covered Walkways

If your school has multiple buildings that staff or students need to walk between throughout the day, you might consider using shade sails to create covered walkways.

A series of shade sails along your walkways will provide comfort and light protection from the elements. They can also direct students and encourage them to walk only in the designated walkways.

Covered Seating Areas

Add an aesthetic touch to your school grounds and bring some practicality with it by creating some covered seating areas. Use shade to cover a few picnic tables et voila! You have a seating area that you can use for dining or outdoor classrooms.

Dining Shelters

There’s a difference between a covered seating area and a dining shelter.

Dining shelters incorporating tensile fabric canopies usually involve multiple shade sails covering a large area to create an outdoor dining area. In contrast, a covered seating area can involve one shade sail and a few picnic tables underneath.

You can situate outdoor dining shelters that feature shade sails in between two buildings, or in a courtyard. The walls of the surrounding buildings will provide additional protection that will allow more opportunity to dine outside in some adverse weather. 

Outdoor Classrooms

Shade sails are a perfect way to support your school’s efforts to create outdoor classrooms. You can group them in your school grounds and place seating areas beneath them. You might dot them around your nature classroom area to create some sun protection and dens or use your dining shelter as an outdoor classroom.

Parent Waiting Areas

A great way to provide shelter for waiting parents is to add some sail shades. The good thing about this option is that your playground shade sails can double up as a shelter for parent waiting areas. Some schools add shade sails close to the school building to provide playground cover and shelter for parents.

What Are The Surprising Benefits Of Incorporating A Shade Sail In Schools?

From reading the above, you will realise that shade sails are incredibly versatile. Installing one or a group of them on your school premises will give you lots of practical advantages. But there are even more subtle advantages that come with sail shades too:

  1. Aesthetically pleasing, they’re welcoming and brighten the school environment.

  1. Look impressive to parents and visitors.

  1. They invoke a sense of excitement, interest and creativity.

  1. Demonstrate your care and attention towards your students, their parents and your staff.

  1. Encourage students to spend more time outdoors, which enhances academic performance.


Shade sails are an excellent idea for any school.

They enhance the look of your school and add a perfect ambience for encouraging learning and development. Furthermore, they solve many problems in schools, like providing shelter and protection from the elements and giving you more opportunity to encourage your students and staff to spend more time outdoors.

The best type of shade sails are designed and installed safely by professionals according to your requirements and are made from long-lasting materials like steel, aluminium and, brightly coloured fire and weather-resistant fabrics.

If you are considering a shade sail for your school, we recommend that you have professionals design and install them. They will fit them safely and give you the best design options for your school premises.