Acoustics in UK classrooms affects concentration and health


A survey of teachers has revealed classroom acoustics could be having a serious impact on pupils’ concentration and teacher health.

According to the researchby Ecophon, 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.

Shane Cryer, Education Concept Developer at Ecophon, said: “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.

“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.

School Leadership Today