MUM'S ANGER OVER THREAT TO EXPEL GIRL, 11
January 16, 2002
Teachers confiscated the half-full can from the Year Seven pupil and made her write lines in solitary until mum Cindy arrived to collect her.
But the school changed its mind when it found out that under European law, a drink was only deemed to be alcoholic if it contained more than 0.5 per cent of alcohol.
Trisha Daniels, the deputy head at the Holt Road school, said the school took sensible precautions and acted in good faith.
Mrs Clarke, however, said the school had over reacted and she was now considering sending Kelly to another school.
Mrs Daniels said: "She was caught drinking a can of shandy by a teacher after other girls became concerned about it.
"The can clearly said it contained 0.5 per cent alcohol made from 11 per cent beer.
"We have since established that the drink is not legally classed as alcohol, and Kelly has not been excluded.
"We feel that we acted in good faith because there is a national concern with young women and alcohol, and we will not tolerate alcohol in our school."
Mrs Clarke, a 34-year-old catering assistant, said: "I tried to tell the school it was a soft drink, but they wouldn't listen to what I was saying.
"They were just adamant that because it said beer on the can it was alcoholic.
"I mean, I could understand it if I had sent her in with a case of alcopops or a few cans of lager, but I didn't.
"Kelly gets fed-up with drinking Coke and Dr Pepper, and she likes that shandy, so why not give it to her?"
Experts say not even the most hardened drinkers could get inebriated on Bass shandy.
Lorainne Kelly, spokesman for Britvic Soft Drinks, which makes the shandy, said: "It is definitely classed as a soft drink.
"While there is a very, very small amount of alcohol in it, it is classed under Government guidelines and legislation as a soft drink.
"Because it is so very low in alcohol, the way your body deals with it means it's impossible to get drunk on."
Richard Laming of the British Soft Drinks Association, added: "The threshold for alcoholic and non-alcoholic is 0.5 per cent — that came in under EU legislation in 1994. Before that it was 1.2 per cent."
A spokesman for Wokingham District Council said: "We do urge all schools to have a clear policy about warning pupils of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and to stick to the law.
"We do not comment on individual cases but will be looking into this."