If you’ve been following our recent blog posts or have attended one of our acoustic workshops, you will be aware of the work we’ve been doing to help schools create effective and inclusive learning environments. Whilst our expertise in acoustics and acoustic refurbishment underpin this work, we also believe it’s essential to understand what noise means to children.
We recently engaged children at a junior school in Cheshire to help us better understand how they experience noise in school. A group of Year 6 pupils, including some children with special educational needs, were invited to participate in a workshop about their experience of noise in the school dining hall and classrooms.
The Headteacher began the session by talking about noise and encouraging the pupils to think about what noise is and where they hear it in their day-to-day lives. They were then asked to reflect on their own experiences and draw what noise looks like to them. So, armed with A4 paper and a collection of coloured pens and pencils, the pupils set to work and, we’re pleased to say, seemed to have a lot of fun along the way!
This exercise proved to be a great way for the children to illustrate how noise makes them feel. The children featured lots of different people in their drawings, from their family to teachers and their friends, but there was one clear theme that ran throughout most of the drawings: the image of a child with their hands over their ears.
Interestingly, we found that some pupils illustrated even stronger feelings about noise in school, with some drawing images of children hiding under a table to avoid the noise! This is a powerful insight with far-reaching implications for schools considering acoustic refurbishment; it is clear that for some children noise can have a profound negative effect.
However, on the flip side, a number of other children drew images of children chatting and having fun with their friends, with speech bubbles and chit chat between each other about ‘life.’ This highlights, once again, that is important for schools to strike a balance between controlling noise, facilitating discussion and providing a space for socialising, particularly in social environments such as the school dining room.
Our findings from this pupil participation workshop are now being used to illustrate to teachers and leaders on mental health and learning how noise is experienced by children, particularly those with special educational needs, including autism and impaired hearing.