Acoustics in UK classrooms affects concentration and health, say teachers

A survey of teachers by Ecophon, part of leading international materials company Saint-Gobain, has revealed classroom acoustics could be having a serious impact on pupils’ concentration and teacher health.

According to the research, almost three quarters (73%) of the 250 teachers surveyed believe the quality of acoustics has an impact of pupils’ concentration in the classroom with 30% saying the impact is serious, which could be detrimental to listening and learning.

In addition, 82% of teachers say they’ve had to raise their voice to be heard in the classroom, with almost half (48%) claiming they have to do so at least once a week. Similarly, 45% of those surveyed say they are asked at least once a week to raise their voices because pupils can’t hear them and almost 10% say they are asked to do so every lesson.

Unsurprisingly, this has led 39% of teachers to suffer from a sore or strained throat more than once a term.

“We know from recent research, that despite the advancement in ICT, most learning is carried out vocally from teacher to pupil, so it’s crucial that they are in a sound acoustic teaching environment,” says Shane Cryer, Education Concept Developer at Ecophon. “If classrooms are noisy and reverberant, it becomes very difficult for children to hear, focus, concentrate and memorise. This can contribute to bad behaviour and an increase in noise levels as attention becomes disrupted. Also, if teachers have to raise their voices on a daily basis, voice strain is inevitable, resulting in time off and extra costs for substitute teachers. Research also tells us that teachers who work consistently in noisy environments suffer heart rate increase and stress levels well beyond the healthy norm.”

“Nearly half (45%) of the teachers we surveyed recognised that classroom acoustics are a problem at their school but the good news is that almost 30% claimed potential solutions are being investigated.”

When asked what are the most important criteria for creating a great teaching environment, most teachers chose temperature and fresh air followed by good acoustics and natural light. Yet there were some regional differences with teachers in East Anglia believing that brightly coloured walls were just as important as temperature and those in London recognising natural light as being the least important.

“However, we understand that good acoustics is only half the story,” agrees Shane. “The DfE agrees that air quality and controlled natural light are both also very important for a comfortable teaching and learning space. Using our expertise we can help schools to understand how these elements work together to create the best educational environment for teachers and students.”

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For more information please contact Rachel Meagher or Bethan Simkins at Target PR on 01242 633100, ecophon@targetgroup.co.uk



Note to Editors

Saint-Gobain, the world leader in the habitat and construction markets, designs, manufactures and distributes building materials, providing innovative solutions to the challenges of growth, energy efficiency and environmental protection. With 2010 sales of €40.1 billion, Saint-Gobain operates in 64 countries and has nearly 190,000 employees.

In the UKand Ireland, some of the best known and respected companies in the construction industry are part of Saint-Gobain. Alongside Ecophon, these include British Gypsum, Isover, Solaglas, Weber, Saint-Gobain Glass, Saint-Gobain PAM, Pasquill, and Saint-Gobain Solar. Together they offer a range of high performance energy-saving products and solutions to help create a more sustainable built environment.

For more information on Saint-Gobain visit www.saint-gobain.co.uk.

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About Us

As one of the leading suppliers of suspended ceilings, Saint-Gobain Ecophon provides acoustic solutions to create better working environments across a variety of industry sectors. Ecophon’s range of ceiling tiles, rafts, wall panels and baffles help to reduce excessive reverberation and optimise sound quality. Ecophon provides a whole range of specialist services from acoustic calculations, technical support, design and integration details to liaising directly with project architects to provide advice on the most appropriate acoustic and aesthetic solution.