Welcome to the Big Noise Survey – a project which aims to raise the profile of the need for good acoustics in schools, and highlight the effect on teachers’ health. The survey will launch at The Education Show, you can learn more by visiting stand J60.
The Big Noise Survey builds on the issues raised in the international Sound Education seminars in 2012. These seminars were exclusive events which explored and revealed some disturbing facts and exciting news about auditory environments in schools. It was these presentations that highlighted the need to continue to raise awareness around classroom acoustics. The presentations can be seen at http://soundeducation.tv/.
“We have just moved from an old noisy school, in our new quieter school the whole energy is completely different, the children are much calmer, easier to teach” – Dawn Herrity – Teacher, Birmingham, speaking at the Education show.
Acoustics in schools is of vital importance.
Teachers need to be able to be understood by pupils, not just heard; children also need to be able to communicate, both with each other and with teachers. If this is not possible, then a school is not a school, it is just a building.
Extensive research has shown the need for appropriate acoustics in schools. Links have been proven between good acoustics and pupil attainment, the ability of pupils with SEN (in all its forms, not just hearing impairment) to concentrate and learn, teacher health and absenteeism. With what we now know, there is a professional and moral obligation to provide the best acoustic conditions.
To ensure that conditions are acceptable for teaching, a number of factors need to be addressed. Firstly, the amount of reverberation (or echo) in teaching and learning spaces must be controlled; if not then words overlap and are difficult to understand. Secondly, the amount of noise coming from outside must be limited so that teachers do not have to raise their voice to be heard. Thirdly, sound insulation between adjacent rooms must be controlled in order to avoid disturbance. The responsibility therefore lies with school designers, Boards of Governors and management teams to see that children and teachers are given the best possible environment to learn and teach in.
Andrew Parkin, Chair of the Association of Noise Consultants’ Schools Committee.