Friday, 6 September 2019

Ceisteanna (453, 454, 455)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

453. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the mechanism by which the weight of school bags is monitored by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36446/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

454. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department consults with schools on the weight of school bags in the context of the setting of textbooks and timetables; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36447/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

455. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the mechanism by which his Department ensures that surveys of the weight of school bags are undertaken by schools in accordance with circulars; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36448/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 453 to 455, inclusive, together.

Under the provisions of the Education Act, 1998 the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school.

Circulars were issued to all primary and post-primary schools in 2005 to highlight the potential health hazard of overweight schoolbags and to outline a range of local measures that could be put in place to help alleviate the problem.

In managing a school, the Board is required to comply with the relevant provisions of the Education Act, 1998 and the terms of Circulars issued by my Department.

My Department is aware that positive action has been taken by many schools on these issues. Actions consist of a range of measures, including the provision of lockers and in the case of second level school the arrangement of the timetable into double class periods, active liaison with parents and the co-ordination of homework by subject teachers.

Ultimately it is a matter for each individual school to determine which particular measures are most suited to its individual circumstances and to how the school concerned organises teaching and learning.

Apart from a small number of prescribed texts at second level (mainly in the case of language subjects) school textbooks are not approved or prescribed by the Department at first or second level. Decisions on which books to use in schools are taken at school level.

I intend to publish the Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill shortly. The aim of the legislation is to improve how schools engage with students and their parents.

Among the key concepts in the Bill include the need for a school to consult with, and encourage the participation and engagement of, students (to the extent appropriate to their age and experience) and their parents, and respond as appropriate, to comments and suggestions made by students and their parents, in respect of the development, review and updating of school plans and policies of the school (other than admission policies) and the activities of the school.

The charter guidelines will set out the procedures that school must develop for consulting with students and their parents and inviting and responding to comments and suggestions from students and their parents.