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Kids in a classroom

Classroom Soundproofing

Good acoustic performance in modern day educational environments is essential for effective learning. School, college and university classrooms are creating and nurturing future doctors, entrepreneurs, teachers and many other professionals, so it is crucial that pupils are able to listen clearly to their teacher’s communications to foster the learning process. It has been proven by many studies that poor acoustic performance within a classroom severely hinders the learning and teaching process.

How does noise affect educational environments?

There are three main noise sources which affect classrooms – reverberation noise, airborne sound sources and impact sound sources. Reverberation is a common problem and has a potentially significant impact on the classroom environment. Challenges such as background noise and group work where discussions and debates are encouraged mean that if a classroom isn’t properly soundproofed, noise levels will crescendo to uncomfortable levels and as a result will hinder any learning ability.

It is important to realise that there are a variety of educational methods and styles presented in the modern day classroom, each with their own noise issues. The more traditional teacher/lecture based classroom is where a teacher is located at the front of a classroom and leads any communication or discussion. This teaching function potentially suffers greatly from reverberation noise levels as pupils who sit toward the back of the classroom will suffer from reflected noise levels, where the teacher’s voice is at the weakest point due to reflected sound waves.

A more modern approach to teaching focuses on a more interactive based learning where students are encouraged to work in pairs or groups to facilitate learning processes. This means within a classroom, reverberation and ambient noise levels will increase dramatically, and if a room is untreated the noise levels will hamper concentration levels and learning ability.

Airborne sound sources affect educational environments where sound travels from different rooms within a building, particularly through separating walls or floors. This is particularly relevant where a classroom is situated next to a music room or a library, which is next to a busy corridor. Airborne noise levels are determined by the use of the area, as some areas will generate more noise than others meaning these will need to be looked at in more detail.

Impact sound sources are sudden noises that come through a floor construction like footsteps. It is imperative that impact noise is taken into account to ensure pupils movements in the classroom above are not heard below.
UK Building Regulations and the guidance in Building Bulletin 93, stipulate that these noises are controlled and that every room or space within an education building is designed in such a way as to achieve a certain level of acoustic performance.

What can be done to reduce noise levels?

The most effective way to reduce reverberation, airborne and impact noise levels with educational buildings is to ensure high quality products are used, and more importantly, are used in the right application. All soundproofing products used should comply with UK Building Regulations Approved Document E (England & Wales), Section 5 of the Scottish Building Standards (Scotland) and Approved Part G (Northern Ireland). These regulations set out important criteria for sound insulation performance for all types of educational buildings.

In order to satisfy the requirements of the above building regulations, the Government introduced the guidelines Building Bulletin 93: Acoustic Design of Schools – Performance Standards (BB93), 2015 (latest revision). This is a comprehensive document for all architects, contractors, acousticians and other professionals to ensure all new school buildings are designed and built to achieve a certain level of acoustic performance.

Hush Acoustics have developed soundproofing products and systems, which will ensure compliance with BB93. The Hush HD1054 Double Timber Stud Wall System is an effective system for the reduction of airborne noise sources and can be easily incorporated into early design plans. The stud frames in the wall are insulated using Hush Slab 100 Sound Absorber and then layered with 15mm Soundbloc Plasterboards. The combination of the Hush Slab 100 and the Soundbloc Plasterboard drastically reduce airborne noise levels between classrooms and other internal spaces within an education building and importantly complies with UK Building Regulations.

To reduce reverberation noise levels one of the most simple and effective products to use is a sound absorber, from the Hush Absorber range. These are acoustic absorber panels that have a Class A absorption rating and comply with BB93 Standards for Acoustics in Schools. The Hush Absorber range is a popular option among educational buildings as it provides a simple yet highly effective remedial treatment, and requires no building work to be carried out.
Robert Crampton, Managing Director of Hush Acoustics, reflected on a primary school that suffered from high levels of reverberation noise, “One of the worst cases of reverberation noise problems I have ever encountered was in the multi-use hall and dining area in a primary school. School assemblies were difficult for teachers to communicate effectively and for pupils to concentrate as reverberation noise levels meant speech clarity was poor.

After we carried out a site inspection, we recommended the use of our Hush Absorber Panels and calculated the amount of absorption material needed in order to bring the school hall reverberation levels in line with BB93 guidelines. Installation of the panels was completed within two days and as a result there was a noticeable difference in the levels of reverberation noise. Teachers found it easier to present assemblies and there was a noticeable increase in the pupils concentration levels resulting in a more enjoyable and comprehensive learning experience.”

How to plan for effective soundproofing

Early soundproofing advice is crucial for acoustics in schools, colleges and universities. Architects, contractors and developers can benefit greatly from gaining expert soundproofing advice in the early design stages of a project. By doing this, project developers are able to get it right first time and create an education environment that is fit for purpose.
Hush provides comprehensive guidance on education projects of any size, from a single classroom to an entire school. We can explain how individual areas within an education building can be affected by sound and can give expert advice on how to reduce reverberation, airborne and impact noises.

Our easy to install systems are designed to optimise space within a classroom/teaching room for new build, refurbishment and change-of-use buildings. Hush has been involved in the design and manufacture of sound reducing products and systems for over 30 years and have worked on many projects within educational buildings.
If you need any information on Hush’s acoustic products and systems please browse the company website ( or contact one of their experienced acoustic technicians on 0151 933 2026.

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