It’s time to talk to your child about the contents of their school bag!

It’s only the beginning of term but already I can see some poor children groaning about school, labouring about with great heavy bags on their backs. When I’ve asked some of them what’s in them, I’ve found out that all the week’s text books and, in some cases — P.E. kit is stuffed into their bags. Others have nothing at all and clearly haven’t thought about what books to bring.

It makes me think that parents could help their children by guiding them at the beginning of term about packing their bags. Anecdotally, I have noticed that the more poorly organised a child’s bag is, the worse he/she generally does — although this isn’t a definite rule. Getting children to work out what to put in their bags the night before and helping them organise them for themselves is crucial to help him/her get into a routine that’s established throughout the year.

It sounds like a little thing — but for me it’s very important. My advice have a chat to them about it now before it becomes a problem. Indeed, some child psychologists like Jean Piaget saw these sorts of organisational skills as vital to a child’s development.


Published by: @wonderfrancis

Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching on the PGCE Secondary English programme. He also teaches the Creative Writing module on the MA in Children’s Literature, which is run by Maggie Pitfield and Professor Michael Rosen. Previously, he worked for a quarter of a century in various English state schools teaching English and Media Studies to 11-18 year olds. He has, at times, moonlighted as a journalist, novelist and social commentator. He is the author of ‘Teacher On The Run’, ‘Yob Nation’, ‘Parent Power’, ‘Working The System -- How To Get The Very Best State Education for Your Child’, and a novel about school, ‘The Last Day Of Term’. His first book, ‘I'm A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here’ was a big hit, becoming a bestseller and being serialised on Radio 4. In his role as an English teacher, he has taught many classic texts over the years and has developed a great many resources to assist readers with understanding, appreciating and responding to them both analytically and creatively. This led him to set up his own small publishing company FGI Publishing ( which has published his study guides as well as a number of books by other authors, including Roger Titcombe’s ‘Learning Matters’ and anthology of creative writing 'The Gold Room'. He is the co-founder, with Melissa Benn and Fiona Millar, of The Local Schools Network,, a blog that celebrates non-selective state schools, and has his own website, He has appeared numerous times on radio and TV, including Newsnight, the Today Programme, Woman’s Hour and the Russell Brand Show. In June 2015, he was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing and Education by Goldsmiths.

Categories Behaviour, Communication skills4 Comments

4 thoughts on “It’s time to talk to your child about the contents of their school bag!”

  1. I have 3 children in secondary school and agree a well packed bag is essential. I work in early years and packing bags is quite clearly something many adults have never mastered judging by the contents sent for their child. Hence we have a lovely end of day “bag routine” even for the 5 year old just starting out in school life, however even the best packed bags are usually far to heavy in my opinion for the mile and half school walk my children do.

  2. Another deep thought from FG on education theory – more material, perhaps, for inclusion in a PhD thesis.

    This *big issue* here is children’s bags.

    However, FG is quick to qualify his remarks yet again( perhaps because he is aware that, once again, he isn’t saying anything of substance): “Anecdotally, I have noticed that the more poorly organised a child’s bag is, the worse he/she generally does — although this isn’t a definite rule.”

    Ahh – anecdotes again. You’ll really have to move on intellectually, Francis, from anecdotes to evidence, if you want to write a serious PhD.

    Francis gives the game away in his final para: “It sounds like a little thing” – that’s because it is, but you like to fill your blog with whatever idle thought crosses your mind, so you have to pretend that it’s not as little as it really is. You even have the gall to invoke the name of a *real* education thinker to sustain the pretence that you are making a comment of any significance. However, it’s a desperate argument to suggest that your ditty about children’s bags bears any relation to Piaget’s ideas about the organisation of thoughts.

    1. In fact, it could make an interesting piece of research, both qualitative and quantitative; case studies on children’s bags, and then perhaps some kind of quantitative measures about them, whether there are any correlations between the weight of children’s bags and their health, achievements.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s