Ireland is one step ahead of the UK when it comes to taking the load off pupils. There have already been calls for the Minister of Education to introduce legislation to limit the size and weight of school books to help curb the problem of heavy schoolbags. They have suggested practical steps such as making school lockers compulsory and forcing publishers to divide textbooks into separate modules for each term.
Back in the UK, research carried out by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) suggests that the average 11-year-old carries a heavy, potentially damaging bag around all day and as a result they're putting enormous strain on their spines and run a great risk of developing back pain later in life.
The report also recommends that parents and teachers play a more active role in helping children choose the appropriate bags: "the majority don't opt for rucksacks and 93 per cent of pupils are choosing their own bag with fashion rather than comfort at the top of their list".
The BCA can offer advice to parents and schools. It's currently running an initiative called Watch your Back and already BCA chiropractors have worked with Bolton Metropolitan Council, visiting schools in the area offering practical advice on children's posture, school bags, exercise and using computers. There's also a video and leaflet aimed at Year 6 pupils, which illustrates the importance of looking after the spine.