Children denied access to drinking water in schools

Over 60 per cent of parents across the UK say that their child does not have access to drinking water in school and it is affecting their work, new research revealed.

The study – carried out by the Natural Hydration Council (NHC) with Netmums – revealed that 64 per cent of parents said water is banned  from classrooms, while 74 per cent said that there is no access to drinking water in the school through drinking fountains. This is despite the Departments of Education’s guidelines stating that the Local Authority or governing body must ensure that pupils have easy access to free, fresh drinking water at all times on school premises.

The majority of parents also said that their children are thirsty when they get home from school (69 per cent), and almost half of parents (43 per cent) regularly notice other signs of dehydration such as tiredness and irritability in their children after school.

Nutritionist and advisor to the NHC, Dr Emma Derbyshire, said: “It is concerning that so many parents have said they don’t think their children are drinking enough fluid throughout the day and I hope that parents and schools can find a good solution to this problem.

“It was reassuring to learn that 80 per cent of parents said they would like their children to drink more water, as this is the ideal choice for regular hydration as it contains zero sugar, calories, preservatives or additives.”

Just how much water a child needs throughout the day is dependant on many factors including age, gender, weather and if they were physically active. However, the Department of Health guidelines states parents should aim for 6-8 glasses of fluid each day.

When asked about their child’s performance at school, nearly a quarter of parents (22 per cent) said that they worry their child’s grades are suffering due to dehydration.

Recent research by Dr Caroline Edmonds, Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology, The University of East London, suggests that children who receive additional water could improve their ability in key classroom activities such as handwriting and copying text, as well as maintain their attention

“Evidence suggests that once children arrive at school, 71 per cent do not drink sufficient water throughout the day to counteract the risk of dehydration or even to maintain the hydration level that they had when they arrived at school,” said Dr Edmonds.

“One of the biggest barriers is that it is still not ‘cool’ or fashionable to drink water in school. The other challenge is increasing accessibility to water, which would help increase consumption both in and out of the classroom.”

However, Dr Derbyshire warns that fruit juices and squashes should be keep to a minimum.

“Fruit juice should be consumed in moderation and smoothies should really only be drunk once a day. It’s important to note that these drinks are perfectly healthy in moderation, but that water and milk are the best drinks recommended for regular consumption with children this age”

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