PUPILS had to be turned away from two Highworth primary schools this morning because there was no water.

A burst water pipe at the Blackworth Industrial Estate caused the problems.

But Thames Water promised the water would be flowing again within a few hours.

The pipe, which is close to Pentylands Lane, burst at about 6am today.

This cut the water supply to about 200 homes in the town and also caused major disruption to two out of the four primary schools.

Those hit were Northview Primary School at Haresfield and Westrop Primary School at Rivers Road.

As staff began to arrive at Northview they soon discovered the school had no water.

Realising the school would have to shut, they tried to alert parents through local radio but many still arrived with their children only to be sent back home.

"We understand a pump has burst somewhere, which means we have no water at all," said administration assistant Sarah Ralph. "We have had to close the school for the entire day because we don't know how long the shortage is going to last.

"We are trying to get through to Thames Water but they have been engaged.

"When we knew the school would have to close for the day we did try to alert parents but we still had quite a lot turn up for school and we just had to explain what had happened."

Over at Westrop there was a similar scene as pupils arriving for the school day were turned around and sent home.

Headteacher Janet Urban said: "I do not know how much longer we are going to be without water but we know there was a break in the pump. We stood at the school gates and sent children home with their parents because we couldn't stay open with no water.

"The school does have some reserve tanks but these were soon used up and so closing the school was the only option.

"Everyone has been very understanding, particularly the parents."

Robin Markwell, Thames Water spokesman, said a team was on the scene soon after the pipe burst and they were doing everything they could to rectify the problem.

"We would like to apologise to anyone who has experienced disruption this morning," he said.

"The pipe burst at about 6am and we have had about 200 calls from people who say they either have no water or weak water pressure. We are re-routing the supply and hope everyone will have water again within the next few hours."