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Exclusive: Valence Primary School, Dagenham, ‘confiscates drinks’ under new ‘no juice’ rule

Ronnie Biggs, four, with his parents Ricky and Kelly holding the sugar free juice he likes to drink Ronnie Biggs, four, with his parents Ricky and Kelly holding the sugar free juice he likes to drink

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
7:00 AM

Children at Valence Primary School are only allowed to drink water – which left those who don’t like it going all day without a drink.

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The no juice policy was introduced when the new term started on January 2, but parents say they were unaware and included cartons and bottles as normal.

While the Dagenham school is providing water on the tables, parents say it has led to some children going more than six hours without anything to drink.

Ricky Biggs has kept his son Ronnie, four, off school because of the ban.

He said: “He doesn’t drink water and when he’s been in hospital they’ve given him squash. How can a hospital say squash is healthy, but a school say it isn’t?

“We spoke to the head about it and she just offered us a transfer form.”

A letter sent out on January 6 includes the line “you will no longer have the worry about providing a drink” and says the new policy is part of the application for the London Healthy Schools Award.

Ronnie’s mother, Kelly Debenam, said: “The letter makes it sound like they’re doing the parents a favour, but they’re not.

“Other schools don’t have this, it’s not compulsory, it’s just them trying to get this award.”

Carly Nunn said her five-year-old daughter, Teagan, has had drinks removed by midday supervisors.

She said: “She put a straw in the carton and took one sip and it was taken off her and put in the bin.

“The next day, I put it in a bottle, but it was tipped onto the table to check the colour of it.”

Headteacher Elizabeth Chaplin said that the school had a policy where midday supervisors disposed of half-empty drinks and yoghurt pots to prevent spillages in lunchboxes.

She added that children who were questioned over their drink contents were “more than happy to confirm or demonstrate the 
water content”.

She confirmed the parents who wanted to take their children out of school had been offered transfer forms, but they had not been completed and the children had returned to school. She said: “Regrettably our attempts to promote a healthier lifestyle have been received negatively by a very small minority.

“We are undertaking a review of the whole lunchtime provision and the review group will include representatives from the parents, pupils, staff and governors.”

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