Free sanitary products will be offered to girls in all primary schools in England from next year, the Department for Education has announced.
Last month, chancellor Philip Hammond announced in his Spring Statement that secondary-school pupils and college students would get free sanitary products in response to concerns that girls are missing out on education because of period poverty.
However, the decision not to include primary-school pupils was raised as a concern by heads.
Today, the children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi confirmed that access to the free products would also be fully funded by the DfE in all primary schools across the country.
The DfE said the decision to extend the programme followed “feedback from teachers, students and parents”, and the department would now work with “key stakeholders in the public and private sector to roll out the programme in a cost-effective manner”.
Mr Zahawi said: “This government is determined to ensure that no one should be held back from reaching their potential – and wants everyone to lead active, healthy, happy lives.
“That is why earlier this year we committed to fully fund access to free sanitary products in all secondary schools and colleges in England.
“After speaking to parents, teachers and pupils, we are now extending this to more than 20,000 primary schools so that every young person in all our schools and colleges gets the support that they need.”
The DfE said the free products would be made available “at the earliest possible opportunity to roll out the scheme nationwide in early 2020”.
Amika George, who started the #FreePeriods campaign to end period poverty, said: “This is fantastic news, and we're so glad that the government has extended this pledge to primary schools. Period poverty should never be a barrier to education.
“With free access to menstrual products for every child in compulsory education, every student can go to school without the anxiety or stress of worrying where their next pad or tampon will come from. This commitment will ensure that all children can fully participate in lessons and focus in class, and their period will never hold them back.”