Some newspapers want you to be outraged at this school for charging pupils for water. This is the truth

Greg Evans
Friday 20 April 2018 09:45
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Picture:(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The UK has hit a heatwave in the past few days, with some areas experiencing temperatures warmer than Greece and Spain.

Whenever the weather gets like this in the UK - or anywhere, for that matter - it's important to stay hydrated and always have access to water.

However, parents of children who attend the Onslow St Audrey's School in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, were left outraged when it emerged that children were being charged for cups of water.

According to the Hertfordshire Mercury, parents flooded a Facebook group with complaints about the 5p charge for a cup of tap water as temperatures hit 27C in Hatfield on Thursday.

Statements like,'This is disgusting. What about those children who have no money?' and 'None of my kids have money on them today, they better not be refused water.'

However, the hysteria surrounding the story may have overshadowed a few important facts about the school's water and plastic policy.

Speaking to the Hertfordshire Mercury, school business manager, Dominic Richards, explained that water was available to pupils throughout the school - for free - via water dispensers, but they would prefer to have children bring their own bottles into to school to cut down on plastic waste.

If not, plastic cups were available to buy fro the school at a cost of 5p.

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.

Recently, the school decided to change their policy on plastic, which included the removal of a bottle of water from pupil's lunchtime meal deal, with the focus being on parents to provide the bottle instead.

With approximately 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic currently polluting the Earth, this would appear to be a small but wise attempt to highlight the problem and educate children about the epidemic.

Mr Richards added:

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.

When quizzed about the realistic possibility of some children not having the correct amount of money available to them to pay for the charge, Mr Richards reassured parents that no child would be denied water any child with a problem should talk to a teacher.

A spokesperson for the school also attempted to calm any of the anger that parents had expressed on the Facebook group by posting:

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.

Acting headteacher Joelle Casotti told indy100 that "at no time will a child ever be refused access to water".

If a child does not have their water bottle and does not have 5p for a cup, we provide a cup to them free of charge.

For students who are registered as free school meals and do not have a water bottle, a cup will be provided.

An email was sent to all parents to notify them in advance of the changes being made.

She also said of the decision behind charging 5p for the cup:

In line with the retail world, this decision was taken not to cover the schools cost of providing the cup, but to encourage students to be responsible citizens and bring in a reusable bottle and therefore reduce waste.

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