Thursday, 8 December 2005
Department of Education and Science
Weight of Schoolbags
Question 217: To ask the Minister for Education and Science, further to Question No. 554 of 22 November 2005, her views on whether it would be more effective to supply individual schools with sufficient circulars in order that one could be given to each child rather than expect the schools to make copies for each family; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38514/05]
My Department normally issues one copy of a circular to each school. In some instances, where the subject matter is likely to be of particular interest or concern to the parent body, the school is asked to provide a copy of the circular to the appropriate representatives of parents, normally the parents' council, for transmission to individual parents. In this way both the school authorities and the parents' council have discretion over whether they consider it necessary to provide individual copies of a circular to all parents.
In general it is not considered necessary for copies of individual circulars to issue to all parents. In many instances it would be considerably more effective for the school authorities or the parents' council, through normal means of communication, to inform parents of the general content of relevant circulars and of the easy availability of circulars on my Department's website. Schools will generally also make copies of circulars available to parents on request.
Given the subject matter of the circular in question, namely, the weight of schoolbags, I consider that this is a much more effective means of disseminating information than asking each child to carry home a copy of the circular. Copies of circulars are also sent to the education partners, including the national parents' councils.
Question 219: To ask the Minister for Education and Science, further to Questions Nos. 556 and 558 of 22 November 2005, the additional measures she proposes to deal with the potential health hazard of excessively heavy schoolbags; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38516/05]
In my response to Questions Nos. 556 and 558, I set out the full range of measures which have been taken or can be taken with regard to this issue. I do not propose to add to that position except to reiterate that school textbooks are not approved or prescribed by my Department and that decisions on which books to use are taken at school level.
As I informed the Deputy in my previous answer, my Department initiated an awareness-raising campaign by disseminating the report of the working group on the weight of schoolbags, with an accompanying circular, to all primary and post-primary schools. A further circular was issued this year, again highlighting the potential health hazard of heavy schoolbags and outlining a range of local measures that could be adopted in order to alleviate the problem. It is a matter for each individual school to choose those measures that would be most suited to its individual needs.