Pupils go quietly to the sound of music

A school has begun playing soothing music at home time to stop its pupils getting rowdy as they leave.

A school has begun playing soothing music at home time to stop its pupils getting rowdy as they leave.

St Mary's RC School, Benton Park, Newcastle

The experiment - the first of its kind in the country - has been running for nine weeks at St Mary's RC Comprehensive on Benton Park Road, Newcastle.

A `soundscape' involving ambient music and sounds from nature has been created, which is played to pupils as they arrive and leave the school, and at dinner time. The same sound is also played at nearby Longbenton Metro station where teenagers gather for their ride home.

Staff at the 950-pupil school say it has made lunchtime easier, while Metro operator Nexus - which helped fund the scheme - believes it is helping give passengers a calmer journey.

It follows on from successful schemes playing classical music at stations in the evening to calm passengers. The sounds have been developed by Soars and Co, which describes itself as an "experience strategy consultancy".

It tested sounds on the pupils for six weeks, before using responses to surveys to help tailor the music to their taste. It is now halfway through a second six-week phase using the adapted soundtracks, and bringing in some elements the pupils have recorded themselves.

Soars managing director Brenda Soars said: "We've been getting extremely good feedback. When we started playing it in the dining hall, there's been extremely good results from that. They're not bad kids at all, there's just a little bit of high jinks. Music has an impact on people's emotions. But everyone is different, so you have to delve into what makes them feel good.

"You can't have heavy metal music or something like that playing - it has to be the right type of thing.

St Mary's citizenship and advanced skills teacher Mike Potts said: "We have noticed a swifter delivery of lunch and it's great to be involved in a project where the school council and other pupils have been so engaged."

Several schools in London are now planning to introduce similar schemes after the success of the project at St Mary's.

It was first suggested by Nexus after passengers raised concerns about behaviour of school pupils on Metro trains.

Security and customer services manager John Meagher said: "Our passengers appreciate a calm, comfortable environment on stations and trains.

"We achieve that by working closely with the communities we serve, including schools.

"We supported this project from the outset because it offered a benefit to everyone, from St Mary's through to local shops and businesses and on into Metro. We are delighted it is going so well."

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