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WA primary school classroom acoustics bad for kids

Parents are calling for an audit of classroom noise levels in public primary schools across WA.

“Poor classroom acoustics profoundly affect the ability of all children to listen and understand what is being taught in the typical classroom, particularly in the early years,” Mosman Park Primary School’s Parents and Citizens Association said in a proposal to be put to the WA Council of State School Organisations annual conference next weekend.

“Poor acoustics have been shown to have other significant, serious and longstanding effects on pupils, including increased fatigue, stress, absenteeism, and in severe cases, social isolation and withdrawal.

“For teaching staff, the impacts can be measured in vocal strain and absenteeism.”

The proposal said there was no mandatory requirement for schools to stick to acoustic design guidelines, even though good design could significantly increase the percentage of a teacher’s words clearly understood by students.

It will ask WACSSO to request an audit of acoustic conditions in all public primary schools. Mosman Park P&C president Hannah Adams said it was installing noise reduction panels, at an average cost of $5000 for each room, after an independent audit found classroom acoustics were poor.

She said the audit found the kindergarten’s reverberation level, which measures the time taken for sound to decay in a space, was three times the recommended standard. It fell from 1.8 to 0.4 seconds after panels were installed.

Kindergarten teacher Denise Barnett said staff had noticed a big reduction in noise and less strain on their voices.

“There were pockets where the children couldn’t hear you calling their names,” she said.

“It’s made such a difference to the overall sound and the children’s hearing and listening skills.”

An Education Department spokeswoman said schools were designed with reference to Australian acoustic standards.

VideoStudents given the opportunity to plan lessons and teach younger classmates

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