Acoustics in schools has been a growing area of business for us. There have been numerous studies over the past 30 years or so into the relationship between noise exposure and performance. We won’t go into detail here, but suffice to say (and perhaps unsurprisingly), unwanted noise in educational environments generally has a detrimental effect. Educational development naturally suffers if students can’t hear the teacher!
Whilst there are a number of different spaces in schools, with varying uses, many of them are large and communal. This results in high levels of reverberation and the potential for noise to travel some distance. This makes the teachers’ job more difficult as they struggle to be heard. It also creates a more stressful and disruptive environment.
Whilst there are now building regulations in place to help manage noise levels, this is a constant challenge. Even more so for older schools, especially if they’re not due a large-scale revamp any time soon.
The good news is that there are an increasing number of building materials on the market to help address this issue. What’s even better is that many of them can be retrofitted to existing infrastructure. And they look great too, so can really enhance an environment rather than being a compromise.
Acoustic solutions for classrooms
The classroom tends to be where a lot of the learning is done. Without anything to help control sound levels, they can easily escalate as pupils and teachers try to make themselves heard over the reverberations.
Minimising background noise to ensure that speech can be heard will help create a more harmonious environment conducive to learning.
Options include acoustic wall panels, which can come in a wide range of colours and shapes. You can even print them with your own design. They can be installed fairly cost-effectively and help spruce up a tired classroom.
Where ceiling height allows, suspended acoustic panels can be a great option. They can be hooked and unhooked if services within the ceiling void need accessing.
Whilst pupils tend not to spend too much time in the school’s corridors, the fact that they link areas of the building means they can be a prime culprit for transferring noise. Therefore, minimising noise here is still worth consideration.
Wall panels and ceilings panels are a great choice here, too.
Acoustic solutions for school halls
School halls, particularly at primary level, can perform a number of functions. Their sheer size means noise can be a problem. There’s a need to minimise the amount of echoing – no mean feat in a large space with little in the way of soft furnishings.
If sport is played in the hall, this becomes even more important. High sound levels make it impossible to team mates to hear each other.
The key here is to consider impact if there’s any chance the walls might be on the receiving end of a high speed basketball, for instance. An impact resistant sound absorbing ceiling is a good idea, as are impact resistant wall absorbers.
Acoustic solutions for school canteens
A large open space, lots of kids letting off steam at lunchtime, and the clashing of crockery and cutlery – school canteens can be loud!
Suspended acoustic baffles tend to be the most effective option here. With both sides exposed, they can absorb a significant amount of noise. With a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes available, they can also be used to create a fun yet practical feel.
The benefits of acoustic solutions in schools
Once you’ve invested in some acoustic solutions, you’re likely to observe a number of huge benefits quite quickly:
- Improved concentration in the classroom
- Lower stress levels amongst pupils and teachers
- Better reading ability and overall academic achievement
- Less voice problems for teachers who have to shout less to be heard.
If you’re a school in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex or Cambridgeshire and you’re struggling with noise levels, give us a call. We’ll be happy to come along and offer some advice. We can supply and install acoustic panels, rafts, baffles, panels and ceilings.
Check out our recent project at the new Whitehouse Farm Primary School in Sprowston, Norfolk for an example of our work.