Their master's voice

4th December 1998 at 00:00

The sound-field amplification system at Fleet primary is helping one profoundly deaf Year 4 pupil. Using her hearing aid with the system, she now hears teacher James Field much more clearly.

"She acts on instructions a lot faster and can under-stand what I'm saying, " says Mr Field. "She certainly misses a lot less than she used to. And it benefits the whole class. They can all hear me."

The school, which has 210 pupils, has the system in two classrooms and the hall. "It uses a small microphone which you don't notice. It's a bit fiddly, but you get used to it.

"Initially I had a headset with a microphone that floated in front of my mouth, but I found it cumbersome. So now I've been fitted with a clip-on mike.

"The days of teachers having to raise their voices have certainly gone. It does aid lessons, and it does make everything less stressful."


At Ysgol Gymraeg Cynwyd Sant, teachers have noticed a marked improvement in pupils' concentration since they started using sound-field amplification. The 270-pupil school has three classrooms wired up.

Headteacher Iwan Guy says: "As a Welsh-medium school we are teaching a new language to the majority of pupils, who come from English-speaking homes. So the correct pronunciation needs to be heard from the beginning.

"And this is an old building, with high ceilings and big rooms. Hearing is problematic in that sense, especially with classes of over 30 pupils.

"The teacher is always competing with voice levels, but it's removed that altogether. Children respond to things fairly immediately. It has enhanced the sound and it makes you wonder how often in the past we have accused children of not listening when possibly it was a case of not hearing.

"I have noticed a few spin-offs. The noise level in the classroom tends to drop because children don't have to keep asking what has been heard or raise their voices or strain to listen."


At 340-pupil Fulfen Primary, two classrooms and the main hall have been fitted with sound-field amplification. Headteacher Chris McDonnell says the system is coming into its own in the literacy hour.

"You can just unclip or hold the microphone to a child and ask that child to read. It will be heard crystal-clear by every child. It increases their confidence in reading out in class.

"It's tremendous. It's giving quality of sound across the whole teaching area. I don't like teachers shouting at school. If, at the end of the day, you go home with a sore throat and bad voice, there's something wrong with your teaching, but also something wrong with the acoustics of the building.

"The hall is one of the most effective places where it's being used. Wherever you are, you can be heard with the same quality of sound as if the teacher was in front of you.

"For PE and games, the system has the added factor of safety. Children can hear instructions clearly wherever they are. And I can read a story to 200 children without having to strain my voice."

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