Only one-fifth of schools meet Part E acoustics requirements, to detriment of hard-of-hearing children

More than 50 MPs, together with Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud, have joined forces with the National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) in calling for the government to ensure that new schools meet national standards for acoustics.

The call comes after Freedom of Information Act data received by NDCS showed that only 21% of the local authorities in England that responded had new schools with acoustics meeting the requirements set out in Building Bulletin 93 – the government guidance for meeting Part E of the Building Regulations.

High-quality acoustics in the classroom are vital for all children to be able to learn

High-quality acoustics in the classroom are necessary for all children to be able to learn, and for deaf and hard-of-hearing children they are vital. Yet the Freedom of Information data shows that many local authorities in England are not testing whether new schools comply with the standards set out in Building Bulletin 93.

Only 60% stated they did testing, despite a government recommendation that they should. Furthermore, even where testing is carried out, over half (52%) of the local authorities had schools that failed to meet the government building standard.

Brian Gale, NDCS director of policy and campaigns, said: “Being able to understand what the teacher is saying is essential to learning. Yet the government is allowing many millions of pounds to be spent on building schools that are unsuitable for children to listen and learn in, and in which deaf children experience particular difficulty.

“As the majority of deaf children now attend mainstream school, it is crucial that new schools don't just look good, but sound good. We are calling on the government to urgently introduce a mandatory test for all new school buildings to ensure they comply with government standards, to stop generations of deaf children from missing out on a quality education.”

The government has ruled out the possibility of introducing a mandatory acoustics test for five years on new schools.