Studies have shown that many classrooms have poor acoustics. As a result, children with normal hearing are often unable to make out what is being said in class. While adults can guess at missing words, children find it much harder to fill in the gaps and this means their educational development can suffer.
The acoustic design of classrooms has a direct effect upon children's learning and academic performance. Studies have shown that both children and teachers are affected by noise and poor acoustic conditions in the classroom. For this reason more onerous legislation on the acoustic design of classrooms came into effect in the UK in 2003. This legislation was considered necessary because existing acoustic guidelines for schools were not being complied with in many cases.
Approved Document E of the Building Regulations requires that every new school building must be designed and built to meet new, more onerous, acoustic performance standards. A report describing how the design of the new school ensures these new standards are met must be submitted to, and be approved by, Building Control.
In order to accomplish this, noise arising from nearby roads and other external sources must be subject to survey and an assessment of its intrusion through the proposed external building fabric must be made to ensure levels are not excessive. Noise insulation of certain separating walls must meet particular requirements, teaching space reverberation must be controlled. The scheme design and the school management plan may require refinement to address acoustic control conflicts that cannot be resolved through design alone.