A trial installing shade sails at secondary schools found increased students' use of newly shaded areas, but relatively low use overall. We examined site features and weather related to use of these shaded areas. Tables with seats and temperatures ≥27°C increased student use of shaded areas, presence of grass decreased use. Focus groups at eight schools suggest students were unaware of changes to their habitual use of favoured locations. Results infer careful selection of locations for built-shade and provision of tables with seats will assist in maximising student use and investments in shade sails.