Headteacher Explains Real Reason Schoolchildren Are ‘Charged For Water’ During Heatwave

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Parents have criticised a school for ‘charging’ their children for cups of tap water as temperatures soared into the mid-twenties.

Onslow St Audrey’s School in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, have been branded ‘clueless’ and ‘disgraceful’ on social media by angry parents.

According to the Hertfordshire Mercury, the comments were made in a Facebook group which has more than 10,000 members.

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One mother wrote:

Actually can’t believe that our children can’t even get water at school anymore without paying for it. They can buy a cup from the office for 5p if they are thirsty. [sic]

The Met Office recorded the highest temperature in Hatfield yesterday (April 19), as 27C, leading to several parents also questioning whether the school was ‘allowed to charge for tap water’.

Others pointed out the charge was for the plastic cup and not the water, with one mum writing:

This is disgusting. What about those children who have no money? Will they let them dehydrate? Why not have cups that get washed? [sic]

While another said:

None of my kids have money on them today, they better not be refused water. [sic]

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As with anything school-related, you can imagine how it may have been blown out of proportion by some parents –  they know the rules but are still outraged when it comes to something they don’t agree with.

School business manager Dominic Richards, told the paper, pupils had access to free water at a ‘number of water dispensers’ throughout the school.

He did say bottles or cups were required to access the water from the dispensers and children did not have access to water fountains.

Pupils who don’t bring a bottle of their own to school are charged 5p for a plastic cup, which is a plastic-saving policy which has been in place ‘for a number of years’.

He said:

Water is freely available throughout the school and this is free for students to use.

We encourage parents to send their children to school with reusable water bottles to ensure they have access to water throughout the day.

At Easter, the school changed its lunch meal deal to remove the bottle of water which had previously been provided to pupils, meaning they now have to bring their own drinks and bottles to school.

Mr Richards continued:

We changed our school meal deals at Easter to bring them in line with a number of other schools in the local area.

Rather than increasing the cost of our meals, which would have increased them for all parents, we made the decision to stop providing the free bottle of water with them.

We made that decision to save our parents money and we also want to encourage parents to help save plastic.

Mr Richards said if pupils didn’t have any money on them, or a water bottle they could speak to teachers, adding: ‘We’re not going to deny any child a drink of water.’

A representative of the school has subsequently posted on Facebook in an attempt to reassure angry parents, saying:

Please can I assure you students can obtain water (free of charge) from the water dispensers positioned around the school.

We encourage students to bring in a refillable water bottle, however, if they forget, they can purchase a plastic cup or a refillable bottle from reception.

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