Schools without safe water accused of letting children dehydrate

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Thousands of children are suffering from dehydration at school because they have no access to a water fountain, a report out today reveals.

Thousands of children are suffering from dehydration at school because they have no access to a water fountain, a report out today reveals.

A survey of nearly 200 schools in Yorkshire reveals that more than four out of 10 pupils go without drinking water during the school day – contravening government health and safety guidelines. Of those who did drink enough, nearly half could only obtain water from toilet areas, many of them unhygenic or a stalking ground for school bullies.

The report, compiled by researchers at the University of Leeds and published by Yorkshire Water, claimed the lack of access was affecting children's health and education – with many suffering from headaches and poor concentration in lessons as a result. In addition, many youngsters were turning to fizzy drinks.

The survey, which was carried out among 192 schools, showed 42 per cent of pupils did not have access to drinking water during the school day. Of the 58 per cent who did, 44 per cent could only obtain a drink from the toilet area.

Health experts say that children should drink at least eight glasses of water a day – and that the lack of access could cause kidney or urinary tract infections. Dr Martin Schweiger, a consultant with the Leeds NHS Health Protection Unit, said improving the availability of water had potential to make a huge difference to pupils' health. "If children don't drink enough water," he added, "the delicate enzyme systems their bodies depend on get out of kilter. Headaches, tiredness, poor concentration and irritability are common signs that the body is drying out."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said guidance issued to caterers stated that it expected drinking water should be available to all pupils every day free of charge.

Comments