DfE opens bidding for free green period products

The Department of Education says the products must be environmentally friendly and include a range of options

Catherine Lough

Period poverty: The problem needs to be discussed openly in schools, say campaigners

The Department of Education has published an invitation to tender for organisations bidding to offer free, environmentally friendly period products in schools.

The DfE says the successful bidder must offer environmentally-friendly sanitary pads as a minimum requirement. They should ideally provide further green options, including eco-friendly tampons and menstrual cups. The products will be available from January 2020.

This follows a government announcement in April that the provision of free period products will cover primary schools as well as secondary schools and colleges.

A government report into the initial impact of the scheme suggests pupils from lower-income families will benefit most from free period products.

News: Free sanitary products for college and school students

Talking about periods: 'Periods aren't shameful – let’s talk about them in school'

Free period products: Free sanitary products to be offered in primary schools

The report also said pupils from conservative Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Jewish backgrounds are more likely to benefit from the scheme, as they can struggle to access period products and information on menstruation.

Free period products can also help pupils to worry less about menstruation.

“Access to free period products has previously been found to reduce concerns about having periods and reduce the chance of being ‘caught short’ at a time when young people menstruating may have irregular cycles,” the report said. 

The bidding window will be open until 15 July, with the contract awarded in the autumn this year. The announcement builds on the introduction of compulsory sex and health education from September 2020, where, as part of new curriculum guidance, all pupils will be taught about menstruation and menstrual wellbeing.

In 2015, the government also introduced a Tampon Tax Fund, with £15 million allocated in March 2019 to support women’s charities in combatting period poverty.

Minister for children and families, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “This government is determined that no one should be held back from reaching their potential, which is why we are making free period products available to all schools and colleges from early next year.

“In designing this scheme we have carefully considered our impact on the environment – encouraging eco-friendly products to be offered where possible – while making sure the programme remains cost-effective and sustainable.

“I encourage all bidders to think carefully about how they could reduce their environmental impact, while at the same time ensuring their products meet the needs of all who use the scheme so that no young person misses out on education.”

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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