Late last year a group of US scientists took it upon themselves to discover the anatomy of the perfect classroom.

Their findings included:

  • Natural light is critical to student satisfaction and academic performance. Even after controlling for socioeconomic and race factors, students exposed to more sunlight performed 2% – 26% better in numeracy and literacy tests compared to students in classrooms with little to no sunlight.
  • The ideal temperature for a classroom is between 20 – 23 degrees Celsius. The performance of students outside of this spectrum suffered. The quality of air in classrooms was also highlighted as a contributing factor.
  • Symbols that speak of cultural and social inclusion and demonstrate achievements by disadvantaged groups can help certain groups of students.
  • Not surprisingly, comfortable noise levels was also highlighted as a particularly important component of the anatomy of an ideal classroom.

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The study, published in the Policy Insights from The Behavioural and Brain Sciences (PIVVS), reaffirms what acousticians and the UK government have been expousing for over a decade – that noisy classrooms are hindering the learning process of children.

With the upgrade to the BB93 in 2015, the UK Government has reaffirmed its intention to hold schools accountable for providing optimum built environments for students under the Equality Act and existing Building Regulations for school environments.

And while more and more teaching establishments are taking heed of Government frameworks for schools; of the dozen or so schools that Resonics has surveyed since the start of the year, all have fallen outside of the new, even more stringent acoustic standards under the update to the BB93. These included secondary schools with classrooms areas with decibel levels almost double the BB93 standards, and a refurbished sports hall with 8 seconds of reverberation time when the minimum standard is below 2.0.

With the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OFSTED) increasingly including acoustics in their ratings, more than ever schools need to know what role sound can play in creating the ideal learning environment.

As a quick guide, we have compiled the general acoustic guidelines for schools here.

References:

  • SAGE,. ‘Policy Insights From The Behavioral And Brain Sciences’. N.p., 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.
  • Bansal, Sarika. ‘The Perfect Classroom, According To Science’. Medium 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.
  • Education Funding Agency,. Acoustic Design Of Schools: Performance Standards. London: National Archives, 2015. Print.