Lancashire school bans drinking water in classrooms over claims it distracts pupils from learning

A headteacher has banned pupils from drinking water in class, claiming it distracts them from learning.

Monday, 1st April 2019, 8:26 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 11:19 am
Garstang Academy

Principal Alasdair Ashcroft has told students at Garstang Community Academy they can no longer use drinks bottles during lessons.

The new rule has prompted angry youngsters to daub the school with graffiti in protest.

The word “Water” has been painted on an outside wall and the phrase “Water Is Bad” has appeared on a pedestrian crossing.

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Garstang Academy

One student told the Post: “I was horrified to learn that I no longer have the right to drink water in lessons at school!

“Extensive research shows that regular consumption of water improves focus and aids studying. Surely this would be seen as beneficial in a place of education.”

It is understood the ban was introduced after complaints from teachers that pupils were spending too much time “messing about” with water bottles in class and less time concentrating on lessons.

Children have been told bottles must remain in schoolbags during class and they must only drink from them between lessons, at break and at lunchtime.

The graffiti on the crossing and principal Alasdair Ashcroft

“During last year’s very hot spell our students were allowed to have their bottles of water out in lessons to ensure they were cool and hydrated,” explained Mr Ashcroft. “This practice then continued after the hot weather.

“Unfortunately the presence of drinks on tables has recently proved to be a distraction for some youngsters and is compromising their learning in lessons.

“As a result, students have been asked to keep their water bottles in their school bags and to take opportunities between lessons to rehydrate if they need to, rather than during lessons.

“Water is still very much available before school and at break and lunchtime, either to buy from the dining room or free from the school’s three water points.

“Should we have a similarly hot spell in the summer again this year, we will review our position for the duration of the hot weather’.

A student, who described the new rule as “shocking,” said: “The UN General Assembly declared that clean drinking water is ‘essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights.’

“This would suggest that I, and the other students, have the right to be able to consume water at all times. This new rule doesn’t allow us to have this basic human right!

“Headteacher, Mr Ashcroft, has stated that the reason for the ban of water in lessons is due to the addition of ‘unnecessary distractions’.

“Granted, a good school would make an effort to remove any distractions when learning. Unfortunately, the new rule has caused much more of a distraction with students and teachers discussing their views on the subject rather than teaching and learning.

“Sadly, the school property has been vandalised with graffiti mocking the new rule appearing overnight.”


Opened in 1958 as Garstang High School and became an academy in September 2011.

Ofsted inspectors have rated it “good” in all categories in two inspections - one in 2014 and one in January last year.

The school has more than 700 pupils and is now one of 10 schools run by the Fylde Coast Academy Trust which was established in 2012.

FCAT also runs Hambleton Primary Academy and several others in the Blackpool area including Armfield Academy, Montgomery Academy and Aspire Academy.


Garstang Academy is not the first UK school to take a tough stance on water in class.

Fulston Manor School in Kent caused controversy in 2016 when it told pupils they were not allowed to have drinks bottles in school, apart from in PE and games lessons.

Headteacher Alan Brookes banned them because students were taking part in a craze called the “Water Bottle Challenge” in which they tried to flip them to land in precarious positions like windowsills or protruding light sockets.

The head also said the rule would reduce litter around the school and stop children “messing about” in lessons.

The issue has caused controversy both in Britain and in the United States when school heads have tried to impose a ban.

An article in the magazine Nursing Times claimed youngsters do not drink enough water during the school day. Children need proportionally more water than adults and maintaining the body’s fluid balance has a marked effect on health, well-being and physical performance.

In a debate on the website NetMums, parents argued both ways - some saying water should be made available at all times during the school day and not just at break times to avoid dehydration, while others said water bottles on desks were not necessary.

One mother said: “When I was at school we werent allowed anything till lunch and break. Seems a daft idea to have water bottles to me.”

Another argued: “Suppose it’s a good idea if a child needs extra fluids, but could it not be considered a nuisance and disruptive if children keep getting up to have a drink during the lessons.”

But a third claimed research had shown that “many children were dehydrated and couldn’t concentrate properly on their work, so there was a huge push for ready access to water- hence water bottles in the class.”

The Healthy Kids’ Association recommends that parents pack a water bottle for school.

A report says: “Water is the best choice to keep your kids hydrated throughout the day.


Children are at greater risk of dehydration than adults, according the health professionals.

The effects of dehydration can be headaches, poor concentration, cracked lips and lethargy.

The amount of water a child needs depends on their age, size and level of activity.

It is recommended that girls between nine and 13 years of age should drink between 1.3 to 1.5 litres a day and boys 1.5 to 1.7 litres.

The British Nutrition Foundation says water is a good choice throughout the day because it hydrates without providing extra calories or risking harm to teeth.And it adds: “Parents, teachers

and guardians should offer drinks regularly, especially in hot weather.”