Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 2 Apr 1996

Vol. 463 No. 6

Written Answers. - Heavy School Bags.

Noel Ahern


188 Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the concern expressed by many parents regarding the weight of school bags being carried by children to and from school; the surveys, reports, studies or examinations, if any, that have been carried out by her Department or any other agency on this matter; whether medical opinion has been sought; the legal or recommended maximum weight, if any, of school bags; if so, the body responsible; the way in which the matter is policed; and if she would make a general statement on the matter to allay the genuine concern of many parents. [7096/96]

I am aware of considerable concern expressed by parents about the possible detrimental effect on children of carrying heavy school bags. The only study that I am aware of is one which was conducted by the National Parents Council (Primary) in 1989.

Medical opinion had not been sought in relation to this matter nor am I aware of a recommended maximum weight. The study by the National Prices Commission (P) echoes my own views that optimum solutions to this problem are most likely to be achieved at school level.

Teachers and parents working in partnership at the level of each individual school can make suitable practical arrangements for schoolwork and homework. These involve time-tabling and advance planning by teachers so that pupils know in advance what books are required on any particular day. Arrangements for storing books in schools where this is possible can also be helpful.
Parents can ensure that schoolbags themselves do not add to the problem by being excessively heavy and by ensuring that pupils do not carry unnecessary material in their school bags. In the case of primary schools the advisory committee on textbooks and materials which I established, has been requested to take these concerns into account when new guidelines are being prepared for publishers. New guidelines will be required to cover any textbooks published as a result of the impending revision of the primary curriculum.