Can The Acoustics In School Sports Halls Have An Impact On Learning?
School sports halls are one of the most utilised spaces in education buildings.
They are used for P.E lessons on a variety of different sports, exams and, sometimes, for assemblies and social events depending on the size of the school.
Because of their frequent use, it’s important that the acoustic design of school sports hall is optimised to allow for the space to utilised properly.
Read on to find out more…
The Sports Hall
Schools sports halls are usually large, open rooms designed for sports like football, netball, basketball and other games that require a lot of space. They are generally built with hard flooring, high ceilings and solid brickwork, meaning that sound reverberates around the spaces for a long time.
The longer it takes for sound to decay, the higher the reverberation time will be. With high reverberation time, comes poorer speech intelligibility, which leads to raised voices, which leads to higher ambient noise, which leads to low speech intelligibility.
Low speech intelligibility can make teaching in these spaces more difficult. Staff can become distracted by the sound of their own voices echoing back at them, making communicating to students harder.
Additionally, as each student makes sounds; scuffing their feet, fidgeting or responding to the teacher, the noise they generate will take longer to fade away. This makes the potential for poor communication between staff and students higher; affecting how students hear instructions and how staff respond to questions raised throughout the lesson.
When sports halls are being used for exams, this can have implications for learning outcomes. Noise is generated by invigilators moving around and student’s fidgeting as they cough, tap pens or scuff their feet throughout. In schools where more than one exam takes place in the sports hall, noise is also generated by groups of students leaving while other exams continue.
This is where noise control in sports halls is most critical when it comes to learning outcomes. If acoustics are not properly managed in these spaces, then students risk mishearing instructions because of high reverberation times, which can then affect how they carry out their exams.
Throughout exams, as people are moving around or other subjects leave early, the noise generated can make the environment seem much noisier, as high reverberation times make the sound echo for longer.
For students, this causes distractions and impacts on their concentration levels. The less focused they are, the more likely it is that there will be an impact on their grades.
What Do The Regulations Say?
The BB93 Design guide states that the allowed reverberation times depends on the area of the floor space. It states that “the maximum Reverberation Time for sports halls reduces from 2 seconds for halls of floor area greater than 530m2 to 1.5 seconds for sports halls of floor area less than 280m2”.
The size of a sports hall can affect the reverberation time. The larger they are, the higher the reverberation time is likely to be. This then affects speech intelligibility and has potential implications for learning outcomes.
The large open plan nature of sports halls means that it’s far more difficult to reduce reverberation time than in standard classrooms. They require more specialist focus when being designed or adapted. That’s where acoustic consultants come in.
How Can Prism Acoustics Help You?
In sports halls, the placement of acoustic panelling can be the difference between high and low reverberation time.
Acoustic consultants from Prism Acoustics can work alongside you to help create an environment with optimal acoustic design that will protect student learning outcomes.
Using our 3D Acoustic modelling software, we can show you how a space will sound before work begins and provide guidance on how to turn a sports hall into an acoustically sound space for staff and students to use as a place to maximise their learning potential!
About Prism Acoustics
Prism Acoustics are leading acoustic consultants based in Birmingham in the West Midlands.
Prism work alongside architects, designers and developers, offering acoustic consultancy on a range of projects in the following sectors:
- Sound monitoring and acoustic modelling for live events.
Prism is currently developing the next generation of acoustic prediction software, using virtual reality to demonstrate how the sound will carry before development work has even started! We can carry out environmental noise surveys and will work alongside you to ensure that your acoustic needs are met to the highest standard.