A school has banned energy drink Red Bull after pupils as young as 11 have been downing THREE cans a day to stay alert during lessons.
Shockingly, some pupils are even drinking cans – which contain the same amount of caffeine as a cup of strong coffee – on the way to school instead of BREAKFAST.
Pupils at Small Heath School in Birmingham are now being threatened with detention if they are caught with the drink.
Headteacher Peter Slough, and self-confessed “health nut”, introduced the ban after students struggled to concentrate in lessons after becoming dependent on Red Bull.
He said: “These caffeine drinks, combined with a poor diet, are responsible for the children who find it difficult to sit and concentrate in class.
“We thought we would raise our battle flags.
“I started to research the issue, initially in the sixth form and then extended it to our Year 11 and Year 10 students.
“It became obvious that a lot of our children were drinking several cans a day – drinking them on the way to school and leaving home without breakfast.
“They were then having another at lunchtime and drinking them at home. We know that even the little ones, in Year 7, drink them.
“They become used it – it becomes a habit and a worry.”
The school, which caters for 1,300 pupils aged between 11 and 18, was rated “Outstanding” in all areas by an Ofsted inspection in May last year.
The report praised both the teaching and safety of the schools, which caters for mostly for pupils from ethnic minorities.
The split-site nature of the school means that pupils are able to buy drinks as they walk from one campus to the other.
But Mr Slough took the drastic action after noticing an increase in discarded drinks cans left littered around the playground.
He added: “They are energy drinks, they give you a boost, but if you combine them with the sweets children eat, we have a recipe for disaster.”
Any pupil caught with a can will have it confiscated and face detention if caught a second time.
Parents yesterday backed the ban. One said: “There is so much pressure on kids to perform and get results that they are taking extreme measures to stay alert.
“Unfortunately, the kids can’t cope with that amount of caffeine and actually concentrate less in class.
“My son said several of his classmates have even fallen asleep in lessons when the effect of the Red Bull has worn off.
“Red Bull should not be given to children. It is as harmful as alcohol and has no place in school.”
The British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), which counts Red Bull and other energy drink companies as members, backed Mr Slough’s campaign.
Director general Gavin Partington said: “We are clear that energy drinks are not recommended for children and we want to get that message across to young people and their parents.
“Our code of practice says that high caffeine content soft drinks are not recommended for children and specifies that this information should be clearly stated on the label of such drinks.
“It also states that high caffeine soft drinks should not be promoted or marketed to those under 16.”
The ban also comes just weeks after a report written for education secretary Michael Gove claimed some children would become “unteachable” after drinking energy drinks.