Soundproofing classrooms: The do’s and don’ts

If you’re involved in the design or specification of an educational setting and considering soundproofing solutions, there are some key things to consider. Whether you’re an architect or Head Teacher, making sure you get the most out of your acoustic design is imperative.

Similarly, there are some things you should avoid when it comes to soundproofing classrooms.

In this post, we’ll be giving you an overview of:

  • Building regulations for schools
  • Classroom structure
  • SEN provision
  • Soundproofing dining rooms and sports halls

… To help ensure that learners get the most from their educational setting.

Read on to find out more.

Do #1: Consider school building regulations

School acoustics are regulated during the design and refurbishment of school buildings as they are so important.

The standard of acoustic comfort in classrooms is specified in the Department for Education’s Building Bulletin 93 (BB93). This document provides regulations for school noise levels and what can be done through acoustic solutions.

The BB93 states that the main objectives for classroom acoustics are that all speech, either between or among teacher and pupil, should be heard clearly. This is measured by the speech transmission index (STI) and has to meet certain standards in order to be approved.

Making sure your school acoustics meet – or better this level – is so important for pupil’s learning, creativity and attainment.

For example, does your school sports hall or dining room meet the reverberation time limit of 1.5-2 seconds? You might be surprised at the length of time it takes for noise waves to bounce around and dissipate in your school environment.

Do #2: Think about room furnishings

Noise will reflect off any hard, shiny surface so think windows, desks and hard floors. Essentially, every item in your school. This means reverberation (noise bouncing around) is high in classrooms meaning noise levels can spiral.

Carpets, rugs and soft furnishings can help dampen sound by absorbing the reverberations. Pairing this with specially designed and placed acoustic treatment such as acoustic foam or wall panels will effectively minimise reverberations.

Another option to think about is inversely benefiting from these hard surfaces, such as desks and tables, by lining the underside of them with acoustic treatment too. Ridged or pyramid foam is perfect for under desks as it’s easy to place in awkward spaces, has an excellent noise reduction rating, and kids won’t even notice it’s there.

Do #3: Consider classroom wall thickness

Many classrooms today have retractable wall partitions in them which allow classes to effectively use space when rooms are sparse. However, these thin wall structures can be ineffective when it comes to noise transmission.

For classrooms partitioned by thin walls or retractable wall partitions, soundproofing panels will block noise transmission from travelling between rooms. This is especially important for when English is timetabled in the room next to Music.

Inhibiting external distractions in children’s lessons is key to keeping concentration levels high and soundproofing is the perfect option to counteract the disadvantages that come from thin and retractable walls.

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Don’t #1: Neglect your SEN provision

Any provision of acoustic design must be provided in a way that will benefit everyone.

According to The Equality Act 2010, all schools must implement accessibility procedures for users of a school, especially if that improves the physical environment for pupils.

To fulfil that requirement, the BB93 stresses the need for school bodies to anticipate the needs of current and future children who have special needs or auditory impairments by including acoustic solutions that improves the environment for all children, whatever their educational needs.

This means if you are soundproofing your classrooms now, you must consider current and future users of the school into your acoustic design development. Meeting the higher standard for acoustic comfort for SEN pupils is a great way to do this.

Another great solution is considering acoustic solutions that can be moved around and fitted easily, such as acoustic panels, so that the future of your school acoustics can be straightforwardly managed.

Don’t #2: Only soundproof your classroom

Implementing acoustic treatment into your classroom is a start, but don’t forget about other key spaces around your school such as the dining hall, sports hall, and music/media department.

Dining rooms and sports halls are often full of excited and talkative children, and these large open spaces with hard, shiny surfaces bounce sound around like no other.

Communication in these spaces can be difficult and a poor acoustic environment can cause teachers to strain their voice and pupils to become distracted and fatigued.

Recording and podcast studios, as well as music studios and radio spaces, give schools the ability to be more creative with how they deliver the curriculum. Integrating acoustic treatment into these settings is so important to make sure the spaces are ascended to their full potential.

Even more important, if the music spaces in your school are not soundproofed for noise transmission to neighbouring rooms, you will be impacting the learning of pupils in other classrooms.

Conclusion

Acoustically treated environments provide a healthier and happier classroom and school experience due to providing significantly better concentration, achievement and wellbeing for pupils and teachers.

Following our list and do’s and don’ts will set your school on the right path for enhanced acoustic environments and students who excel.

Our team of acoustic consultants is available to discuss your school acoustics needs to ensure you select the right product from our line. We have a range of products that include moss wallscork panelsinsulation foamacoustic foam, and wall panel pro. All of these acoustic panel options can be completely customised to your colour, size, fabric, and other product requests.

Whether you need maximum noise reduction or slight adjustments to your classroom acoustics, we can help. We have helped countless schools and organisations improve their school acoustics over the years. Please do not hesitate to contact us today to go over our unique acoustic panels for schools that can help your students achieve better concentration.

Hey! If you liked this blog, make sure to read the next article where we explore MORE Do’s and Don’ts for School Acoustics
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