AN ANGRY mum says her four-year-old son is coming home from the classroom every day thirsty and miserable - because of a school policy which bans him from drinking flavoured water.
Reception class pupil Brandon Ashall refuses to touch plain water - putting him in conflict with healthy eating rules at Monteney Primary in Parson Cross, Sheffield, which has put a classroom ban on all drinks except water and milk.
Mum Kathryn North has been in dispute with the school over the issue for the last six months, and only allowed Brandon to return to classes this week after a four week stand off.
But she says she is prepared to take her case to the Ombudsman if the problem isn’t sorted out soon.
“Brandon just doesn’t like plain water,” said Kathryn.
“But it isn’t as if I’m sending him to school with sugary drinks - he has a healthy alternative. His favourite drink is Robinsons H20, which is 99.4 per cent water and 0.6 per cent orange or blackcurrant flavour.
“When he comes out of school he begs for a drink - I worry he gets dehydrated, especially in warm weather.
“These days it seems even prisoners have their human rights, but it doesn’t seem my son has any.”
Reception pupils at Monteney have access to water all day but can enjoy a preferred drink at lunchtime with their meal.
Kathryn, from Wheata Road, Parson Cross, said Brandon had seen his water container confiscated by staff after they smelled its contents and found it did not contain plain water.
“I know the school has the health of the children at heart, but they are going too far with this,” she said.
“One of the senior staff even offered me a transfer form to move to another school, and another said that if I kept giving him water, he’d eventually drink it.
“But I see nothing wrong with flavoured water or diluted fruit juice - it’s not unhealthy. He has never drunk water, that’s how he is.
“If I denied my child sustenance they’d have social services on to me like a flash, but it’s okay for schools to make these rules,” she added.
Monteney executive headteacher Nicola Shipman said the school had a policy to provide continuous water to all pupils to encourage them and their parents to support a healthy approach to their diet.
“This sensible approach and policy on drinks in school has been drawn up with pupils and parents and fully endorsed by them,” she said. “More than 450 parents at our school support us in providing their children with water, and we are sorry we’ve not yet gained such support from this family.
“We believe it is important that young people are given every opportunity in school to benefit from healthy options.
“We would encourage any parent, if they are unsure of their child’s preference, to try water for a few weeks and see how their child gets on.
“We are pleased with how many have actually taken this on board and happily choose water. We have offered and would still encourage this for this pupil, who has drunk water in school, and would be happy to support both the child and parents in trialing this again.
“We appreciate there is a bewildering array of drinks options available to parents today. Pure water is healthy and a viable alternative to flavoured options and pop. We also encourage pupils to drink milk if they prefer.”