Charity working to enhance outdoor learning and play for children urges responses to Airports Commission noise consultation
An organisation called “Learning through Landscapes”, which works to help children benefit from good, stimulating outdoor learning and play in their education, has raised concerns about aircraft noise along flight paths. The Airports Commission currently has a public consultation on noise, and in its discussion document it raises the issues of children, schooling and aircraft noise. Learning through Landscapes encourages all those with an interest or concern about aircraft noise and childrens’ education – inside the classroom, or learning outdoors, to submit their views by the 6th September deadline. The discussion document states: “Over 20 studies, both epidemiological and experimental, have shown negative effects of noise on reading ability and memory development in children. Several links between chronic noise exposure and children’s cognition have been suggested, including teacher and pupil frustration, learned helplessness, impaired attention, increased arousal, indiscriminate filtering out of noise during cognitive activities resulting in loss of attention, noise annoyance, and sleep disturbance. “
Aviation Noise Impacts Learning…
30 July 2013 (Learning through Landscapes)
A recent report [it is actually a discussion document, for public consultation] by an independent commission [the Airports Commission] into aviation noise has highlighted that there are clear links to impaired cognition in children exposed to high levels of noise, such as those experienced under the flight path of a major airport.
Worryingly the report [discussion document], by the Airports Commission, states that:
“The evidence surrounding cognitive impairment in children exposed to noise is somewhat clearer than that surrounding other noise impacts on children. Over 20 studies, both epidemiological and experimental, have shown negative effects of noise on reading ability and memory development in children. Several links between chronic noise exposure and children’s cognition have been suggested, including teacher and pupil frustration, learned helplessness, impaired attention, increased arousal, indiscriminate filtering out of noise during cognitive activities resulting in loss of attention, noise annoyance, and sleep disturbance. These impacts are magnified when learning activities are undertaken outdoors. Noise has been commonly shown to affect children’s central processing and language skills, reading comprehension, memory and attention ability. These effects could seemingly impair long term educational attainment, though this aspect is less well evidenced.”
The [Commission’s document] also says:
“The European RANCH study found that road traffic noise had no observed effect on children’s reading or memory….. With aircraft noise, however, the study showed that students suffered impaired reading comprehension and recognition memory. This is likely to be because of the transient nature of aircraft movements, with short term peaks in noise affecting concentration and providing distraction. On the other hand, it is more likely that children will habituate to road noise during school hours, as it is generally experienced at a more constant level.”
We are seeing more activity in the press about proposals for increasing the numbers of runways in the UK and it is essential that mitigating work takes place for those schools that would be affected.
This could include the airline industry providing funds for schools to make trips to quieter outdoor spaces to support their learning or further investment in the exploration of active noise control methodologies in school grounds.
If you have a view then please do respond by September 6th to the Airports Commission discussion document on noise at the link below.
What is Learning through Landscapes:
Learning through Landscapes helps children to connect with nature, become more active, learn outdoors, develop social skills and have fun.
Our vision is that every child benefits from stimulating outdoor learning and play in their education.
What we do
We aim to enable children to connect with nature, be more active, be more engaged with their learning, develop their social skills and have fun!
Where possible we encourage young people to have a say in the way their grounds are used and improved. As a result they learn to create and look after something valuable; their self-esteem grows and their behaviour improves, along with their potential to learn and achieve.
We do this through three avenues:
- advocating the benefits of outdoor learning and play at school and pre school.
- inspiring and enabling the design and development of outdoor environments to support children’s development.
- inspiring and enabling teachers and early years practitioners to develop the confidence, ideas and skills they need to make better use of outdoor spaces.
We focus our resources on educational settings, because we believe that this is where children will derive the greatest benefit. The school playground is the one outside space that children have frequent access to. Despite the proven benefits of outdoor learning and play, 8 in 10 teachers believe that their school is failing to make the most of these valuable spaces for children.