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Back to school: The ‘huge disadvantage’ facing Queensland kids

Bill McDonald
Article image for Back to school: The ‘huge disadvantage’ facing Queensland kids

Children sweltering in hot classrooms are a “huge disadvantage” heading back to school this summer.

Associate Professor Michael Nagel from the Sunshine Coast University, one of the nation’s foremost experts in child development, said there were too few classrooms with working air conditioners.

“It’s not just a question of how many classrooms have air conditioning [but] how many classrooms that have air conditioning that actually work,” he told Bill McDonald.

“There’s decades of research stretching back to the 1930s that tell us how detrimental heat is to the human condition. The human brain is actually extremely heat sensitive.

“The optimum temperature for a classroom, according to decades of research, is 22-23 degrees.

“Yet many kids are going to step into classrooms next week and the ambient temperature by 8.30am in the morning will be 20s or early 30s.”

He said kids were at a “huge disadvantage” in their learning environments.

“When you start to get very hot … the brain actually releases excessive levels of neurotransmitters, two in particular. This can result from heat stress. This can lead to aggressive and impulsive behaviours.”

“We know that reading comprehension starts to diminish wit each degree after 23 degrees. So in a classroom that’s 23 or 24 degrees, its very difficult for kids to read and comprehend what they are reading.”

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