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A mum has been left furious after her son's teacher poured away his blackcurrant squash on a hot day.
Stephanie Lapham, 34, has spoken out against Blackhorse Primary School and accused them of "child neglect" after they replaced five-year-old Rocky's squash with water on Tuesday, as temperatures soared in the area.
She said Rocky – who refuses to drink anything except squash – had a headache and "was crying all night" due to being dehydrated after not drinking all day, reports Bristol Live.
In response, Blackhorse Primary School apologised to the mum, stating that "the school’s policy hadn’t been clearly communicated to her and that Rocky was left thirsty".
The school – which said it is "very proud" of its culture of "physical health and wellbeing" – said it will allow Rocky to drink squash for the next seven weeks, until half-term, after which he must follow the water-only policy.
Ms Lapham said: "Rocky returned to school on Monday after the summer holidays and went into Year One with a new teacher.
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"He came home from school on Tuesday complaining of a headache all evening, really upset and holding his head.
"He has speech and language development issues, so when he was crying and told me on Tuesday night that his teacher had poured his drink down the sink, I thought he must have got that wrong, and there was no way that happened.
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"As I was dropping him off to school the next day, l thought I'd quickly pop over to check with the teacher, and she said, 'Yeah that's right — school policy is water.'
"I said, 'So are you saying on the hottest day of the year you poured my son's drink away?'
Ms Lapham initially refused to let Rocky go into class on Wednesday morning. She went into the headteacher Simon Botten's office to complain.
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"I said I wouldn't leave Rocky with the teacher, and he said, 'I promise he will keep his squash today.'
"He will not drink water. We will go on holiday and have to take bottles of squash, because he's so particular and he likes routine. For his school dinner he has a plain ham sandwich every day without fail.
Ms Lapham agreed to let Rocky be taken into class after she was told he could keep his squash for Wednesday. She described her son as "confused" by the discussion, while she herself was "really quite upset and close to tears".
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Following another discussion with Mr Botten on Thursday, she said: "The head told me the policy will not change under any circumstances and I'm to 'wean him off'. Rocky's not a drug addict. It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.
"What Rocky brings in is 99 per cent water with a few drops of squash. I said that it's worse having dehydrated children who end up in hospital.
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"I suggested Rocky could bring in a bottle of Volvic sugar-free water with a hint of blackcurrant, lemon or strawberry flavour in it, and the head also refused that."
Mr Botten told said parents often choose Blackhorse because of its emphasis on health. The school has its own farm and a horticulture teacher. The farm supplies the school kitchen with fresh vegetables for meals offered to children each day.
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He added: "Our success in sports is known throughout the region, with a number of children going on to run at a national level — some for Team GB’s athletics academy, and one, Tom Wilstead, earning a sports scholarship to Colston's School, which led to him being signed to Bristol Bears first team, something the whole school community is delighted to see.
"We are very proud of this culture we have created and therefore look to ensure that our children are taught about healthy diets from an early age.
"Like every other school in the local area, and on the advice of the NHS school nurses, Blackhorse has a long-standing policy of only allowing children to bring water in their water bottles. This is because children are allowed to drink from their water bottles throughout the day and sipping on squash throughout the day is known to cause tooth decay.
"The teacher was following our school policy, by replacing Rocky’s squash with water, but we discussed Ms Lapham’s concerns with her when she told her that Rocky hadn’t drunk the water provided on a hot day. I apologised that the school’s policy hadn’t been clearly communicated to her and that Rocky was left thirsty."
- In the News
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