Classroom acoustics focus at the Education Show, UK

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Last week saw an increased focus on classroom acoustics at the Education Show event ath the NEC, Birmingham. The Big Noise Survey was launched and Shane Cryer and Simon Smith presented about the importance of good classroom acoustics to teachers and head teachers during the seminars programme.
Shane Cryer, local Concept Developer for education environments caught up with some key acoustic influencers and enthusiasts during the show.

Around the launch of Big Noise Survey which aims to raise awareness about the importance of good acoustics for teachers to an audience of teachers, Shane Cryer interviewed the following at The Education Show NEC Birmingham
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Simon Smith – Learning Environments Manager, Sweyne Park School Essex;
“There are a lot of ordinary teachers here who go face to face with children and firstly I want them to understand and realise that acoustics is important and second, they can do something about it and it’s not always rocket science, you can do something about poor acoustic conditions and if we can get this message across to ordinary teachers I will be happy.”
Jack Harvie-Clark, Director at Apex Acoustics Ltd, representing the ANC;
“Once Simon has got his very important message across that something can be done that schools are noisy places – a member of the Association of Noise Consultants can help the architect to design the school better acoustically to make it quieter make speech more intelligible and improve pupil behaviour reduce the strain on teachers voices then everyone will be in a better place.”
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Alan Knibb retired Former Senior Engineer Essex Council;
“I think the most important thing we have learned from the Essex Study is the fact the benefits and values of good quality acoustics in the classroom, all children whether they have a hearing impairment or not , benefit as a result of good acoustics. The teaching staff also benefit greatly with less stress on their voices and the costs associated with the acoustics is very small and it can be retrofitted without too much problem.”
Andrew Parkin Acoustics Director Cundall and Chair of Education comittiee in ANC;
“I think the (Survey will tell us probably what we already know we suspect, that a lot of the school out there are not really suitable for their intended use. The thing that the Essex Study has shown us; we’ve known for ages that acoustics in schools is critical, you can’t have poor acoustics in schools and expect to be able to learn well and teach well, it just doesn’t work. The things that the Essex Study has shown us it that it is not just the reverberation time being controlled and moderated but also the background noise and the fact that by reduction in classroom babble but controlling reverberation in the room, that then provides a much calmer environment in which makes the teacher a lot more able to project their voice over that level and be then be better understood. The other thing that it’s helped us appreciate is that a lot of people have been a bit nervous as to whether you can make a classroom too dead acoustically and people have been a bit wary of getting the reverberation time too low thinking; well maybe if it is so low then people will not be able to understand but the Essex Study has really shown that you can drag it (the reverberation time) right the way down to 0.4(seconds) even across the frequency bands and get really good speech communication. So that’s fantastic!
What can the ANC offer a school that thinks they have poor acoustics?
The ANC (The Association of Noise Consultants) is the professional body representing noise consultants in the UK. So our membership are available around the UK to react to local schools, to contractors on a national level to help evaluate and see what problems there are, if indeed there are problems and if there are we can recommend solutions and ways of getting around the problem, so it’s really assisting to get the environment better.”
Interesting additional comment from Dawn Herrity – Teacher, Birmingham, who visited the Big Noise Survey launch stand at the Education show. “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.”
For more info contact Shane Cryer.

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