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An objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) is a modern type of examination which is increasing being used by health science education organisations. And the Portable Partitions Company has gained invaluable expertise in this growing area of health education.

The OSCE  is designed to test a candidate’s clinical performance and competence in skills such as communication, clinical examination, medical procedures as well as the rapid evaluation and interpretation of results.

It is a hands-on, real-world approach to learning that keeps examinees engaged, allows them to understand the key factors that drive the medical decision-making process, and challenges them to be innovative and improve the efficiency of decision-making.

Sounds like the perfect means of assessing the next generation of medical professionals as they progress through their learning. But how can a multi faceted OSCE be facilitated in a real world setting without compromising the day to day operations of the NHS?

To help solve this King’s College London turned to the Portable Partitions Company to assist them in creating a real-world, if temporary, clinical environment within London’s Olympia exhibition hall venue.

And they are not the only medical school turning to our expertise and products to create the right OSCE environment. Warwick Medical School have also been using our acoustic portable screens to help create the right setting for their students to learn the essential clinical excellence they’ll need once qualified.


Using products such as our Room Divider 360 and Modular Wall, which benefit from acoustic absorption performance, the Portable Partitions Company have been installing temporary OSCE facilities since 2011 on a hire basis. Installations have varied from requirements of thirty to over two hundred units.

Operationally the challenge is to ensure the set up meets the exact requirements of the clinical assessment team and allows for the smooth flow of dozens of medical students as they move from one structured setting to the next.

“Its like a military operation” comments Portable Partitions Company Sales Director Alex Ayres. “We have to ensure the products are on site and set up to the exact specification the evening prior to the OSCE. The products need to offer privacy, sound absorption and enable flexible use of the space available. They also need to be quick to remove as the space required for the OSCE is often needed for other purposes immediately after, or the cost of renting the required space so expensive. Everything needs to be off site within a matter of hours so the area can revert back to its usual function.” 

Screenflex Freestanding product is the perfect portable screen solution for rapid installation and removal

The Portable Partitions Company offers a range of products, available for hire or purchase, which are perfect for this demanding requirement. To view our range of products and to obtain a hire quote visit our online hire shop now. Or if you are looking to purchase you can visit our store.


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Flexible Learning Space – Does It Sound Right?


As schools embrace the flexibility benefits of open plan innovative learning spaces, educators increasingly need to understand the role acoustics play in these larger spaces and the potential negative impact of poor acoustic control.

In schools especially, children find it harder than adults to hear due to their still developing neurology and lack of experience of predicting words from context.

“We would never teach reading in a classroom without lights. Why then would we teach in ‘acoustic darkness’? Speaking to a class, especially of younger children, in a room with poor acoustics, is akin to turning out the light”Professor John Erdrich, Scientific Counsel in Acoustics.

In a classroom setting where comprehension is everything, it’s important to create an environment that maximises the signal to noise ratio, especially for those furthest from the teacher. Allowing students to separate the background noise from person talking.

The need for those responsible for managing the acoustics of learning spaces to address this issue is further enhanced by the implications of the School Premises Regulations and the Equality Act.

Children due to their ongoing neurological and cognitive development cannot always ‘second guess’ what is been said if they cannot hear things clearly. This can lead to a loss in concentration, impacts on learning and in some cases disruptive behaviour.

Poor acoustics can hinder collaborative working within groups of younger children and make comprehending spoken instructions difficult. These conditions can lead to significant issues for children with learning difficulties.

Requirement E4 from the Building Regulations states: “Each room or other space in a school building shall be designed and constructed in such a way that it has the acoustic conditions and the insulation against disturbance by noise appropriate to its intended use.” Building Bulletin 93 sets out the guidance for acoustic performance within learning space.

Adrian James, one of the BB93 authors, summarises the current obligations placed on Local Authorities or the School Client Body: The School Client Body is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Regulations; they consist of both the Commissioning Authority (normally the company, trust or charity which owns the school buildings) and the School Entity, which is the body having day-to-day control of the School and may be represented by the Head teacher or Governors.

For those responsible the key is to have just the right amount of reverberation. Reverberation is when sound continues to be present in a room because of sound reflecting off of surfaces such as desks or chairs. In general the greater the reverberation time, the harder it is for young ears to understand.

In a classroom, it is important to have a short reverberation time, but enough for the space to not feel “dead”, which can make it hard for students at the back of the room to hear.

The Department for Education has issued a number of building bulletins for schools relating to acoustic reverberation within learning spaces with a guidance of 0.6 seconds of sound reverberation for new build and 0.8 seconds for refurbished space. However the additional provisions for Special Educational Needs (SEN) criteria suggest 0.4 – 0.6 seconds should be the standard.

So how can those responsible for learning spaces combat reverberation whilst continuing to embrace the innovation of open plan flexible space?

Using portable partition screens with acoustic properties to enhance the learning environment

Wall-Mounted Classroom Dividers for Schools

By using StraightWall Acoustic Portable Partitions by the Portable Partitions Company open learning space can be easily sub-divided. This can help schools and other learning establishments to maximise the benefits of flexible space whilst also ensuring they create the right environment for learning.

The panels are engineered and manufactured in the UK with composite acoustic honeycomb cell core panels, fibreglass sheet layers to both sides and covered in specialist acoustic fabric for superior performance.

They are lightweight and easy to move, adjust and store. When not required they can be simply rolled away for quick and easy storage.


For more flexible space partition solutions visit now and speak to one of our consultants.