Over the past 50 years, there has been a significant body of research into the adverse effects of noise and poor acoustics on the academic performance of school children. This effect is particularly marked where pupils have additional learning needs or are hearing impaired.
The result was the development of the performance standards for acoustics in schools (BB93) under the Building Regulations, which has led to a substantial improvement in the quality of learning environments. Unfortunately, older schools may still fall short of these standards resulting in a degraded speech signal reaching pupils, resulting in a loss of information.
Not only is learning affected but, in the case of poorly treated dining halls, a significant degree of discomfort. It is not uncommon to see very young children or children with special needs feeling distressed after being exposed to relatively high levels of noise in dining or circulation spaces. As a result, the regulations have introduced guidelines for the refurbishment of older schools.
The solution may be as simple as placing acoustic panels of suitable performance in the correct places. By controlling the acoustic environment in this way, communication can be optimised and the overall comfort with the learning environment, improved.
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