Is Your Child Able to Hear at School? – Questions for Parents
In our last blog we illustrated how poor hearing can adversely affect your child’s ability to comprehend and keep up with the work that is being taught in the classroom. Whether or not your child is struggling at school, it is important that as a parent you get involved in their education. Parents and schools can work together to address hurdles to inclusive, high bar education.
Schools must be willing to comply with the government standards on classroom acoustics. The minimum standards for sound and acoustic regulation at school are set out in Building Bulletin 93 (BB93). The regulations apply to all new school buildings built since 2003 in England and Wales.
In order to be sure that your child and his/ her peers are receiving the education they deserve, the following questions can help shape discussions about the learning environment – and particularly the listening environment – at parent-teacher meetings:
- Is the classroom layout set out correctly so that all students are able to hear and see the teacher and other students? Does every student get fair and equal access to learning material: are there places in the class which are “better” or “worse” How could all seats be brought up to the standard of the best places?
- Is there adequate lighting in the classroom. The environment for hearing should be at least as good as that for seeing?
- Can all students hear, multimedia & AV sound or spoken lesson material: for instance does the classroom have an effective amplification/ Soundfield system that benefits all students
- Is the classroom environment set up to be as quiet as reasonably possible? Be aware of background noises such as shuffling papers, student movement, furniture movement, and hallway activities. Noisy rooms can be treated to improve acoustics and reduce noise.
- Does the teacher gain the student’s attention before presenting instructions or directions?
- Is the teacher cognisant that all students may not be able to follow classroom discussions as easily as the other students, and does he/ she support these students by clarifying and rephrasing important points as the discussions proceed?
- Does the teacher use visual aids to support learning (e.g. writing on whiteboard, use of computer/data projector, assignment instructions in writing, email postings)? Interactive white boards and lesson capture software are a great option for aiding lessons and helping learners review important lesson content.
- Does the teacher check on the student’s comprehension by:
– asking the student to repeat instructions;
– asking the student to define new words;
– asking the student to explain concepts; and
– asking the student to summarize what has been learned?
- Does the teacher (or the Support Services teacher) provide individual instructional sessions for the student?
- Is there staff available at the school to check and troubleshoot the student’s amplification equipment (hearing aids, cochlear implant processors, classroom FM sound field systems and/or personal FM systems)?
By asking the questions posed above, you will have a better idea of the standards for hearing at your child’s school. If you would like to organise an acoustic classroom health check, PC Werth offers healthcheck service for UK schools – we welcome you to contact us here.