Tackling period poverty in schools and colleges

period poverty schools

The government has extended their scheme to provide free tampons, pads, and menstrual cups to ensure the accessibility of safe sanitary products for people in education

Available for schools to distribute to their students, environmentally-friendly period products will be provided now in schools and colleges until the end of the academic year.

The programme, launched in 2020, aims to ensure accessible period products, reducing stigma and keeping young people attending school and college and engaged in education, recognising period poverty as a potential hindrance to education.

State funded organisations in England can order free period products from supplier Personnel Hygiene Services Limited (PHS) Group. With each school or college having a budget to remain intact until the end of the calendar year, after which it will be renewed with a new spend cap in January 2022.

“Around 11% of girls in England missed school due to lack of affordability of period products”

A study by PHS Group with 250 young people suggests that 35% of girls aged 13-18 have taken time off school or college because of their period.

In another study by Bodyform, surveying 1000 participants, it was found that one in ten girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products in the UK. Facing period stigma, it was further stated that 59% of these girls have made up a lie or an alternative excuse to avoid going to school when struggling with their period.

The scheme helps young people make the most of every possible day in the classroom, particularly following the pandemic when most young people spent time learning from home rather than in class.

Will Quince, Minister for Children and Families, said: “I’m delighted that the incredibly important scheme providing free period products for schools and colleges across England is to continue running.

Nothing should get in the way of students spending every possible moment in class, and no girl should ever be ashamed of being on their period. Any school or college that has not yet ordered through the scheme should do so at the first possible opportunity.”

Girls, non-binary and transgender learners who have periods will all have to access this scheme

Gemma Abbott, Director of #FreePeriods, added: “Young people have already had so many hours away from the classroom – this scheme is an amazing opportunity for all schools and colleges to ensure that no young person has to miss out on their education for lack of access to period products.

“We want to urge every school and college in England to place orders for free period supplies as soon as they can. We’re glad to see the scheme has been extended to the end of the academic year – let’s take the chance to show just how valuable it is, so we can secure its continuation well into the future.”

Sharon Common, Head of Portland Academy, stated: “Having access to free period products with no questions asked has made our female students feel more comfortable and confident, and as the products are visible around school, boys have also increased their understanding of menstruation.

“Some of our autistic young ladies have sensory difficulties and find wearing sanitary protection a challenge which can lead to absence from school each month. Using school supplies means staff can work with students to work on improving this.

“Having free stock also means parents and carers do not have to ration what they send in to school with their daughter which reduces impact on low-income families and increases personal hygiene.”

To reduce waste, it is recommended for people to wait until any stocks of existing period products they may have to be low before ordering.


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