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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/G009767/1
Title: Identifying a sound environment for secondary schools
Principal Investigator: Shield, Professor BM
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Fac of Eng Science & Built Env
Organisation: London South Bank University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 July 2009 Ends: 30 June 2012 Value (£): 290,872
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Acoustics Building Ops & Management
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
EP/G009791/1 EP/G010927/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
20 Jun 2008 Engineering Socio Technical Systems Panel Deferred
17 Sep 2008 Engineering Socio-Technical Systems Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Under the 'Building Schools for the Future' initiative, all secondary schools in England and Wales are to be refurbished or rebuilt over the next ten to fifteen years, at a cost of over 45 billion. Being able to hear the teacher would seem to be an obvious design criterion for these new schools. Yet in many schools, both old and new, the acoustic environment is poor. The overall aim of the project is thus to improve the acoustic design of secondary school buildings, in order to minimise the detrimental impact on children and teachers of acoustically poor school buildings. The project would be carried out by an interdisciplinary, inter-institutional research team, consisting of acousticians from London South Bank University and the University of Salford and psychologists from the Institute of Education. The proposed research will investigate the effects on teaching and learning of different acoustic designs within secondary schools and classrooms. In the long term it will provide the evidence-base necessary to underpin measures to improve acoustic conditions in classrooms, and, in the short term it will provide teachers and educationalists with evidence to support changes in teaching and learning strategies for situations where acoustic conditions are poor.Acoustic and noise surveys of schools in urban, rural and suburban locations will be carried out to identify secondary schools with a range of acoustic conditions; these schools will be used for detailed surveys and testing. Acoustic surveys of classrooms and other locations in each school will be undertaken and other environmental conditions, such as temperature, will be monitored so that they can be controlled for in subsequent analysis. This will be the first wide ranging acoustic survey to provide data on typical conditions in secondary schools around the country. It will allow comparison with the requirements of Building Bulletin 93 (Acoustic Design of Schools) to see how many secondary schools meet current regulatory specifications. Questionnaire surveys of pupils, teachers and others working in schools will be carried out to determine awareness of noise and acoustics, and whether noise and poor acoustics are perceived to affect their behaviour, health or performance. A battery of cognitive tests suitable for pupils in years 7, 8 and 10 will be developed and these will be administered to pupils on laptops. The tests will be undertaken in a range of noise and acoustic conditions to reflect those encountered in the acoustic survey. The different acoustic situations will be rendered via headphones. The results of the testing will provide information on the impact of noise and poor acoustics on academic performance and, in particular, on the way in which children at different stages of development or different tasks (for example, verbal and non-verbal) are affected. The results of the project will be disseminated to the DCSF where they may be used to inform any future revisions of Building Bulletin 93; to educationalists; and to architects, engineers and acoustic consultants who are involved in the design of schools.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.lsbu.ac.uk