New report reveals extensive noise problem in European schools

Press release 2022-04-27

Today is International Noise Awareness Day, highlighting the harmful effects of noise on hearing, health and quality of life. A new report from Ecophon shows that more than 8 out of 10 students in France, Sweden and the Netherlands go to schools with too much noise. The sound environment in many European schools causes both learning losses and inequalities between student groups.

Acoustic systems manufacturer Ecophon today launched the report “A Sound Recovery for Schools”, mapping how noisy European schools are and its impact on students and teachers. The report builds on new results from surveys of middle and high school students in France, Sweden and the Netherlands, in addition to data from the OECD PISA study.

Over 80% of surveyed middle and high school students think their school is too noisy. The effects on student health and learning are significant:

  • Concentration: 60-75% of students in France, Sweden and the Netherlands say that noise prevents them from concentrating in the classroom
  • Headaches: More than half of students in France and Sweden say that noise in common areas sometimes gives them a headache by the end of the day
  • Learning difficulties: More than half of students in Sweden and the Netherlands say they find it difficult to learn due to noise, at least once per week
  • Stress: Six out of ten students in Sweden say they are stressed by the noisy school environment at least once per week

– Most people know that schools can be noisy. A less known fact is just how widespread noise is, but also the harmful impact it has on students and teachers. Both in terms of learning and health. Some groups of students with special educational needs are disproportionally affected, says Douglas MacCutcheon, Global Concept Developer for Educational Environments at Ecophon.

Students are found to be more likely than their headmasters to consider noise an issue in their schools. According to headmasters in OECD countries, about one third of students go to schools where instruction is hindered by poor quality infrastructure (including acoustics). Meanwhile, 80% of students in surveyed countries agree that it is often or sometimes too noisy in school.

– Hard, reflective walls and ceilings are common barriers to good school acoustics. The problem lies in the design of the environment, not with the children. A solution is to design schools with the needs of the most vulnerable students in mind. Universal Design with high-quality sound absorption benefits everyone, says Douglas MacCutcheon.

The new report contains recommendations on how teachers, school administrators, architects and policymakers can work together to mitigate school noise in post-pandemic education.

– Learning losses caused by school closures during the pandemic could be reversed. The momentum in national recovery plans should now be used to reverse learning gaps that pre-date the pandemic, says Douglas MacCutcheon.

Read more in Ecophon’s report “A Sound Recovery for Schools” here.

International Noise Awareness Day (INAD) is a global initiative to raise awareness of the harmful effects of noise on hearing, health and quality of life, and to inspire positive action. INAD was established in 1996 by the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC).

Read more here:

About the report

The report is based on online surveys that Ecophon commissioned of 1017 middle and high school students in Sweden, the Netherlands and France. Surveys in Sweden and the Netherlands were carried out by the global opinion research group APCO Insight in January 2022. The survey in France was conducted by the research company OpinionWay in January 2021. The report also builds on results from the OECD’s latest PISA study in 2018. Material for the report was also produced by the advisory and communications consultancy New Republic. 


Contacts (Ecophon Group):

Douglas MacCutcheon
Global Concept Developer for Educational Environments
Phone: +46 76 536 66 67

Stefan Dahl Malmborg
Marketing Manager, Brand and Communication

Mobile: +46 (0) 42 17 98 89

Ecophon Group is a leading, global supplier of sound absorbing systems. Ecophon develops, manufactures and markets acoustic products and systems that contribute to a good working environment by enhancing peoples’ well-being and performance. The company has business units in 20 countries, delegations in another 30 countries, and approximately 1100 employees. The head office is located in Sweden. Ecophon Group is part of the Saint-Gobain Group.