A Sound Recovery – mitigating noise in post-pandemic education

Ecophon has surveyed students in France, Sweden and Netherlands to map the extent and impact of noise in European schools. The report “A Sound Recovery for Schools” also reveals new pathways to healthier and more inclusive schools. 

Children are among society’s most vulnerable groups. This became evident during the pandemic. Globally, 1.5 billion students were affected by school closures and millions were unable to access remote learning.

National initiatives have helped to mitigate learning losses. Recovery plans are now in place to build back better, more inclusive, and more sustainable societies.

These recovery efforts are an opportunity. Not only to improve schools, but to remove obstacles for learning that have existed long before the pandemic. One important obstacle is noise.

School noise is a global problem

A Sound Recovery for Schools” builds on new results from surveys of middle and high school students in France, Sweden and the Netherlands, in addition to data from the latest OECD PISA study.

An overwhelming majority of students in all three surveyed countries think their school is too noisy. In OECD countries, roughly one third of students say there is noise and disorder in most or every lesson.

Percentage of students who reported there is noise and disorder in most or every lesson.

Noise harms health, teaching and learning

Students, teachers and children with special educational needs (SEN) are all impacted differently by a poor sound environment. This ranges from stress, loss of learning and vocal health issues. Noisy canteens also cause many students to skip lunch.


Barriers to learning are in the design of the environment, not the child. We need to work together to remove these barriers. That is the perspective needed for a sound recovery for schools.


Creating conditions for success

Teachers, school administrators, architects and policymakers all have a role in creating more successful conditions for learning – schools with less noise.

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

European Schoolnet welcomes the new study

“Over the years research on school environments and learning has produced important evidence on the need for education stakeholders to take the effects of sound on students and teachers into serious consideration as it can have significant impact on their wellbeing and progress. This research is supported by evidence and case-studies produced by international organisations such as the World Health Organisation and the OECD which showcase the need to consider how critical good acoustics are to learning of children. European Schoolnet has also, through its research and projects, highlighted the importance of considering aspects related to noise and acoustics when creating or adapting learning spaces and school environments.

European Schoolnet therefore welcomes the new study funded by Saint-Gobain Ecophon “A Sound Recovery – mitigating noise in post-pandemic education” which surveyed students in three countries, building on existing evidence from PISA 2018 and further stressing the extent and impact of noise in European schools.

The report found that noise was identified as a problem by the majority of actors in schools and that this can have a negative effect to the wellbeing and learning of both regular- and SEN student populations as well as the wellbeing and health of teachers. It further highlights the current status quo of existing regulations and standards on school acoustics and provides recommendations for policy makers and schools to take the opportunity of the COVID-19 recovery period to improve school and classroom acoustic environments.

As an organisation, European Schoolnet is committed to continue working with all relevant stakeholders, including actors from the public and private sector, to develop guidance, recommendations, and produce evidence for schools and policy makers in the area of innovative pedagogy, technology, and learning environments. As an industry partner of the Future Classroom Lab, Saint-Gobain Ecophon is a valuable counterpart of European Schoolnet in promoting a more inclusive and innovative education in Europe”, says Marc Durando, Executive Director of European Schoolnet.


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.