School design for positive cognitive development and wellbeing

danfloor explains how carpet can benefit an education facility, and its pupils and staff

The importance of acoustic design for cognitive development

Considered design principles within school environments, including boarding facilities and classrooms, can positively affect student learning and teacher satisfaction as well as enhancing the mental wellbeing of all its occupants.

There are many ways in which carpet can benefit an education facility and one of those is creating an acoustically sound environment which is conducive to learning in the classroom and creates a relaxing and calm living environment within boarding houses.

Schools are built for safety and cleanliness. Hard, reflective surfaces often line the hallways, classrooms, gymnasiums, auditoriums, offices, music rooms, cafeterias and more. As a result of these highly reflective textures, sound waves will bounce around all of these spaces for extended periods of time. As the background noise builds, the rooms in the school and boarding facilities become less functional, and the learning and living environments become compromised.

When young children are regularly exposed to levels of noise auditory processing functions can be compromised and this can interfere with communication, which in turn may develop speech or reading difficulties.

Children continue to develop their speech perception abilities until they reach their teens. Evidence has shown that when children learn in noisier classrooms, they have more difficulties understanding speech than those who learn in quieter settings1.

In a study conducted by Cornell University in 1993, children exposed to noise in learning environments experienced trouble with word discrimination, as well as various cognitive developmental delays1. In particular, the writing learning impairment dysgraphia is commonly associated with environmental stressors in the classroom1.

Studies suggest that the evidence of the effects of noise on children’s cognition has grown stronger over recent years, with over 20 studies showing detrimental effects of noise on children’s memory and reading outcomes2.

Acoustically sound environments are so important that the Department of Education sets out clear objectives and advice around the subject. One of the objectives of their ‘Acoustic design of schools’ guide is to provide suitable indoor ambient noise levels to enable:

  • Clear communication of speech between teachers and students
  • Clear communication between students
  • And for learning and study activities

The Equality Act 2010, which covers all areas of disability and types of discrimination discusses the issues of acoustics within schools, principally those relating to disabilities and where English is not the first language, in both cases clarity of speech is therefore particularly important to assist comprehension.

Creating the optimum learning and living environments is an important design consideration for any education facility. With the use of carpet levels of concentration and comfort can be improved.

Acoustics in boarding houses

Children have been identified as a group vulnerable to the effects of sleep disturbance2. Prolonged sleep disturbance in children may result in tiredness, difficulties in focusing attention, increased irritability and lowered frustration tolerance2.

High noise levels have also been known to damage the physical health of small children. Children from noisy residences often have a heart rate that is significantly higher (by 2 beats/min on average) than those of children from quieter homes1.

Peaceful, non-echoey environments enhance living spaces and produce an atmosphere which is conducive with study and relaxation, especially for those students with additional needs

Carpet has a unique ability to reduce sound impact levels, no other acoustical material performs the dual role of a floor covering and a versatile acoustical aid. Research suggests that carpet is 10 times more efficient in reducing noise compared to other flooring options3.

Carpet helps to create an acoustically sound environment within multi dwelling buildings. Peaceful, non-echoey environments enhance living spaces and produce an atmosphere which is conducive with study and relaxation, especially for those students with additional needs.

Acoustics within student accommodation have to be closely monitored and meet the requirements of part E of the Building Regulations. Carpet can naturally achieve in excess of 28 decibel reduction in transmitted impact noise and will help you achieve such standards.

Benefits of carpets in the learning environment

-Combats leg fatigue and creates zonal and comfortable learning areas

Carpets can be a useful way of creating flexible leaning spaces, making it comfortable for students and teachers to sit, stand and even lie down on the floor. With many teachers standing for a large proportion of their time, carpet also increases underfoot comfort and reduces muscle fatigue. In a survey carried out in 2001, the majority of public school teachers surveyed said that they actually preferred carpet for its comfort, noise reduction and safety benefits4.

During the primary years many students spend much greater time sat on the floor and the warmth and comfort of a soft flooring finish can provide many benefits.

-Provides thermal resistance

Carpets, because of their fibrous construction, trap a layer of air close to the floor. Air is an excellent thermal insulator and consequently increase the thermal insulation of a surface. Carpet is therefore perceived as being warmer and providing more comfort.

-Reduces glare

Carpet also offers a glare-free surface which helps to reduce reflection and eye strain.

Benefits of a danfloor carpet

We recommend the installation of our nylon range of carpets, which includes the Evolution and Economix collections. These ranges help to achieve all the above benefits and provide the following:

  • Class 33 heavy-use certification, the highest wear rating a carpet can receive
  • Up to 15 years’ wear warranty
  • A and A+ Environmental BRE certification
  • Antimicrobial yarn treatment providing a 4 log reduction (99.99%) in harmful bacterial, including those that cause MRSA and E-coli
  • Impervious membrane preventing spilt liquids reaching the sub floor
  • Easy to clean, and soil and stain resistant yarn.

For more information and to order samples visit

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4 – Beth Schapiro & Associates (2001) “National Survey of Public School Teachers”

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