Attended a meeting at the Department for Children, Schools and Families today about acoustics. It went well… but no major breakthrough… Yet.
Some small steps are being made which bring us closer to testing acoustics in all new schools. But nothing is yet on the table that would guarantee that all schools would definitely be tested. The Department is suggesting there is no evidence that schools are failing to deliver good acoustics. This isn’t borne out by what our members are telling us. It’s also puts us in a catch-22 because if there is no testing, it is much harder to get evidence of non-compliance. And now the Department is saying it can’t introduce testing if there is no evidence of non-compliance. My head hurts from thinking about it.
There was a suggestion from round the table that it didn’t matter if the acoustics weren’t great because deaf children could use personal microphone systems. After 11 years of using microphones in schools myself, I feel confident in saying this is baloney. Microphones amplify all noises, not just the teacher’s voice. They make group work difficult. And not all deaf children use microphones anyway. It’s not to say they’re not important – but clearly they complement good acoustics. They’re not a solution to bad acoustics.
One thing that was clear from the meeting that all the letters that our supporters are writing is getting their attention and they have to spend a lot of time explaining what is going on to MPs. The more people that write in, the more it’s going to push the Government to making sure that deaf children get high quality acoustics in schools – so write in now if you haven’t already!
The Department is going to go away and think about what we’ve said, and there is a plan to meet again in around a month. In the meantime, the campaign for schools that sound good goes on!