Acoustic Management

A checklist of low tech options to help you manage acoustics in the home and classroom

Type

Management Idea

Implementation

Notes

Reduce noise generated by

children’s activities

Prevent pencils, scissors etc. from clattering in use.

Use waste packing foam, or buy foam / sponge sheets from pound shop, and use them to line pencil trays etc.

Treat the chair legs, so they don’t make a noise on the floor.

Hushups are special equipment that you can buy for this (www.hushups.com) but you could try using old tennis balls, which could be much cheaper. (Wash before use.) Or you might find ferules that fit your chairs on line (www.rubberferrules.co.uk).

Use a blanket or thick cloth on tables to damp down noise caused by Duplo etc.

Use a plain blanket (not visually distracting) so the children can concentrate on the equipment. Needs to be washable. Who will wash it every half term? Fix in place with table cloth pegs or large clothes pegs (www.lakeland.co.uk).

Reduce ambient noise generated in the class room

Check for:

Noisy radiators

Buzzing lights / ITC equipment

Dripping taps

Squeaky doors

Electric hand driers

Noisy pump for aquarium or squeaky hamster wheels

Get the radiators replaced or seen to by a heating engineer.

Change equipment/lights or get them seen to by an electrician.

Change the washer.

Buy and use oil.

Replace the hand dryer with paper towels or similar.

Site aquarium / hamster elsewhere.

Reduce reverberation in classroom

These ideas are intended to supplement, not replace, acoustic ceiling tiles and wall treatments.

Hard floors and walls are highly reverberant, making listening difficult for all children, and very difficult for children using hearing technology.

Soft furnishings are effective in damping down reverberation.

There is often a rug in the corner of a primary school classroom. Can you replace a thin old rug a larger new one? (www.kidcarpet.com)

Can you use extra rugs (say in the book corner)? Or cushions and curtains / drapes? Ikea sell cheap ready made curtains (www.ikea.com)

(Consider hygiene, how will they get cleaned?)

In Key Stage 2 classrooms, can you carpet nearly all the room? (Leave a square with hard flooring near the sink).

You need to have blinds to control glare from the sun. Try to avoid metal blinds (very reverberant and noisy in use) and use fabric blinds instead. (www.waverlyblinds.com)

Remove or control external noise.

Have a ‘close the door’ policy, to keep noise from the corridor out of the classroom.

Ask your local ToD to explain the importance of keeping noise out of the classroom. If this service isn’t available ask someone else to offer INSET (in service education / training) to the school.

Shut the windows when it’s noisy outside.

Good ventilation is important for health, concentration and learning. But sometimes the classroom can be aired during break, e.g. before the timetabled games lesson.

Avoid noise from maintenance jobs.

Arrange for mowing and other maintenance jobs near the deaf child’s class room after 3.30 pm.

Noise controlled by managerial action

Allocate classrooms for deaf pupils away from sources of noise.

Avoid rooms next to the gym / music room / noisy roads.

Avoid a room next to a playground used for games lessons.

Revise any whole school ‘open door’ policies.

Explain the profound effect of noise on a deaf child’s listening access to the curriculum.  Ask for help from the local ToD. If this isn’t available seek help from a professional in acoustics or an external ToD.

Draw up the timetable / adapt the timetable with noise control in mind.

If a source of noise is unavoidable (e.g. an adjacent room has to be used for a music lesson) reduce the effect by imaginative adaptations.

E.g. timetable outdoor PE / swimming / indoor games when music is timetabled in the adjacent room. Or move the deaf child’s lesson to the library or the  room vacated by the class doing music.

Use whole class noise management for:

Staff health

Pupil achievement

Support for all types of SEN

Low tech acoustic management should be used to supplement, not replace, soundfield systems and radio aids.

BabbleGuard classroom noise indicator is a low cost traffic light style monitor that supports teachers to keep classroom noise (created by children’s talk) under control. It is available from Conn Evans (www.connevans.co.uk).

BabbleGuard is simple and can be combined with sound field and radio aid systems. It should be supplemented by INSET to help mainstream staff to develop a quiet listening environment in the classroom, supported by whole class behavioural management strategies.

Quiet movement around the school cuts down noise that comes from the corridor and into the school.

A whole school policy benefits the deaf child and also every other child in the school.

Reduced noise levels helps to reduce teachers’ stress and vocal abuse (which can cause serious voice problems).

Use soundfield systems to supplement radio aid. This helps to keep whole class listening attention engaged.

It is a win – win situation, help teachers to teach and children to learn. When people see that the adaptations that deaf children particularly need are helpful for all staff and pupils they are keen to adopt them. Soundfield systems can be supplied by Conn Evans (www.connevans.co.uk) or P C Werth (www.pcwerth.co.uk).

Develop whole school policies to encourage quiet movement in the corridors.

Quiet and orderly movement supports whole school development of all pupils’ safety, social and emotional development.

Further Information

Local Services

  • Your local ToD or Educational Audiologist may be able to undertake an acoustic assessment of classrooms. Ask if they have the specific qualification in educational audiology to enable them to make acoustic assessments.

Adrian James Acoustics (www.adrianjamesacoustics.co.uk) Independent acoustic consultants.

  • Adrian James can offer acoustic assessments of classrooms and school

UK Government (www.gov.uk).

  • Department of Education: Information Department for Education: Advice on standards for school premises. For local authorities, proprietors, school leaders, school staff and governing bodies.  Issued: March 2015  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/410294/Advice_on_standards_for_school_premises.pdf . Information about acoustics is on pages 10 & 11.
  • Gov.Org. Building Bulletin 93: BB93: acoustic design of schools – performance standards. https://www.gov.uk/…/bb93-acoustic-design-of-schools-performance-standards. Updated: 19th December, 2014.

NDCS (www.ndcs.org.uk).

  • Creating Good Conditions for Learning in Education: Information for head teachers, property managers, academy trusts and local authority managers.
  • How to improve listening conditions in the classroom, creating good listening conditions for learning in education – Practical suggestions for mainstream teachers: NDCS fact sheet.

There are many other useful items relating to classroom acoustics on the NDCS website.

Listening for Learning (Catharine@listeningforlearning.uk)

  • This information sheet is free to copy, providing you do not change it.
  • You may call for conversation about your child’s hearing access to in nursery or school, with no obligation and no strings attached. I can be available in the evenings or at weekends if this is more convenient for you.

Written by:  Catharine Infield on 21st April, 2017