Noise is off the menu for a Northumbrian School

Collingwood School in Morpeth is a wonderfully diverse school that integrates a wide variety of children of different abilities to give them a head start in life. Sound Reduction Systems were asked about the possibility of improving the school acoustics of their dining room to make lunch time more pleasant for the children and of course keep their dinner ladies happy. This was an acoustic challenge we couldn’t resist!

Sonata Vario

School dining rooms are always a challenging environment where acoustics are concerned, our ingredients are a large space, acres of wipe clean (but acoustically reflective) surfaces and lots of children catching up and chatting about their day. The noise is impressive and it becomes increasingly difficult for the staff supervising to be heard and crucially understood over this cacophony. Add to this the sound from the dinner ladies cooking and dishing up food for all these children the problem becomes even easier to appreciate.

“Lunchtime is always a busy period, it’s a time when the children have a chance to talk and interact but also when we have to feed lots of people in a short space of time. Clear instructions and guidance from our staff is crucial to getting the children ready for the afternoon’s teaching.”

Although Sound Reduction Systems can also provide accurate quotations via e-mail, using the ‘Three Step Estimator’ on this occasion our qualified acoustician Toby Makin was able to pop by and have a chat with the head teacher and assess the problem. Taking the measurements of the room, and in particular the spacing between the concrete beams that support the ceiling structure, Toby was able to calculate the extent of the reverberation problem and then suggest the most appropriate amount and configuration of absorbers to achieve a worthwhile improvement. In this case we looked to at least halve the reverberation time, getting the dining hall much closer to the requirements of BB93, the building regulation that dictates the acoustic performance of all new schools.

We arranged for their friendly, CRB checked installer to take a van full of Sonata Vario acoustic absorbers up to Morpeth which he fitted in one day and impressed the caretaker of the school because of the cleanliness of his work.  Sonata Vario's are raft absorbers that can quickly be fitted via a simple suspension kit that also allows the panels to be easily removed when the dining hall needs to be redecorated. Another bonus is that these panels are made from a very efficient acoustic foam, there is no risk of fibres falling from the panels.  Sonata Vario panels are available in a wide range of sizes so in this case Toby’s measurements allowed us to specify panels to fit around the existing light fittings.

We are delighted that we have managed to cure the acoustic problems at Collingwood School, which has conveniently coincided with a quick refurbishment of the dining room over the summer holidays. The results look fantastic and the acoustic improvement is easily appreciated by the children, staff and parents alike.  From this September, the children and dinner ladies of Morpeth will have a much nicer dinnertime!

If your dinnertime menu is becoming too noisy we’d be delighted to help. As well as schools, Sonata panels have been used in restaurants and canteens around the country. You can either fill in the form on our website, or please contact us directly on 01204 380 074 or e-mail so we can discuss the acoustic problem and then explore the options available to you. If needed, we may also be able to come and visit.