You have the data - now how to improve it

OK, you have looked at the numbers and can see that things need to change:
here are some targets and strategies to get started with on a project which aims to Make Learning Better:


Crucially, we are still working on the interrelationships with these variables: for example if light is too low AND it's too hot is there a multiplier effect and what is the magnitude?



Three big changes are very easy to implement:

If you haven't yet got hold of a Learnometer, mobile phones make very accurate lux meters with lots of (mainly free) apps to allow your students to survey the school for the best learning spaces.

Phones can measure light and sound particularly well. 136 lux is very very poor!


This sounds easy - cut the heating, open the windows, etc. But in practice it is initially hard to convince the students ("Can I keep my coat on?" (No) and so on). 

If you don't have a Learnometer yet, the simplest measure is a cheap plastic garden max - min thermometer. Label it with "good learning" for the scale 18-21°C and "not good" for the temperatures outside of this range...

Humidity may be tougher; keeping between 40% and 60% may partly be the result of where you live. But there are a couple of things that help: 


Of course, proper acoustic modelling and sound absorbing panels are ideal, but in the absence of these many other ideas are effective too:

Hanging umbrellas from the ceiling upside down (each student brings and decorates their own - use white canopies to help light levels). Then fill the umbrellas with fibreglass wool ("rockwool") of the kind ceilings were once insulated with. One tech / science project later and you will have quantified the sound changes.

Or even simpler, fix an old tablet, perhaps an out-of-date iPad or phone, to the wall (Velcro pads), leave a power supply connected and run one of the many decibel metering apps, saying to the students, simply, "In this corner we expect sounds below 70db" and then then ask the children to monitor the screen. You could select daily Sound Monitor students (below, at Hargrave Park) - to remind their peers when the numbers go above that. Usually, they will have already noted the numbers and hushed each other - it's all about protocols, agency and expectations.


Carbon Dioxide is a heavy gas. Opening windows and doors helps, but it is much more effective if air is moved around too. A closed room full of breathing students quickly (within 30 mins often) fills with CO2, even more so in exam halls.

In these graphs (below) you can clearly see the difference between no windows or doors open (the steep upper line), just windows open (the middle 2 lines - CO2 "pools" below window sill height) and windows plus door open (the "safe" lowest line):

However, as well as ventilation, we can use plants to absorb CO2 and add Oxygen. The best plants do this very well - we have a list of the best - and we have a lot of detail about plants mediating high levels of CO2.

See (bring your own plant)


As we observe elsewhere, if you are in a high pollution location, then it is unlikely that relocating a school will be possible. However, one positive change can be to pass a portable polution meter around parents - many of these generate map readings / routes as they are carried around. This allows you to map and recommend the lowest pollution routes walking to school - perhaps avoiding walking alongside a major road for example, or re-routing through the park, if there is one.

Since the pandemic began, we have seen some alarmingly high TVOC readings. These are almost always the result of over aggresive cleaning materials and the high levels of TVOC resulting are damaging to the children. As one Learnometer school commented::

"we have cleaned the rooms but brainwashed the kids!"

The answer is to audit your cleaning materials. For CoVID, soap based washing with warm water if probably good enough.

Air filtration equipment is available and because it is much used in the health service, really quite affordaable. We are evaluating this and will post here when we have findings..





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this page created February 2014, last modified Wednesday, May 26, 2021 12:06 PM