Building Regulations for Schools – Acoustics

The acoustic conditions in schools are controlled by Approved Document E (Part E) of the Building Regulations and by the School Premises Regulations, which apply to new and existing schools.

Part E of the Building Regulations covers rooms used for nursery and adult/community education within school complexes but does not apply to nursery schools which are not part of a school.

The Building Regulation requirement E4 relating to acoustics in school buildings is listed below:

Requirement E4 states:

“Each room or other space in a school building shall be designed and constructed in such a way that it has the acoustic conditions and the insulation against disturbance by noise appropriate to its intended use.”

Part E4 does not cover sixth form colleges that have not been established as schools, or Universities or Colleges of Further and Higher Education.  However, many of the acoustic specifications are desirable and can be used as a guide to the design of these buildings. Part E4 does apply to sixth form units forming part of a school complex.

Approved Document E states that the normal way of satisfying Requirement E4 will be to meet the values for sound insulation, reverberation time and internal ambient noise which are given in Section 1 of Building Bulletin 93 – Acoustic Design of Schools. The School Premises Regulations contain similar statements to those in Requirement E4 of the Building Regulations.

Since 31 October 2012 the ‘Acoustic performance standards for the priority schools building programme’ document should be used in place of Section 1 of the Building Bulletin 93 as the acoustic performance standards for the Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP). For the purposes of Building Regulations submissions, any variations from the existing BB93 should be taken as Alternative Performance Standards approved by the Education Funding Agency for this programme.

The overall objective of the performance standards is to ensure that the design and construction of the building provide acoustic conditions in schools that facilitate clear communication of speech between teacher and student, and between students, and do not interfere with study activities.

Further information on Priority School Building programme can be found on the Department for Education website.