Free sanitary products for secondary pupils

Free menstrual products are set to be supplied in all England's secondaries under new government scheme

Tes Reporter

Government expected to announce free sanitary products for secondaries

The government is to announce a free sanitary product scheme across all secondary schools in England in a bid to combat period poverty.

It is understood that the scheme – which aims to address concerns that girls are missing school because they cannot afford sanitary products  - is due to be announced by chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond during the Spring statement on Wednesday.

Starting from September, it is expected the initiative will be funded in full by the Treasury.

Background: Free sanitary products for students in Scotland

Short read: DfE to ask heads and pupils about 'period poverty'

Opinion: 'It's disgraceful that there are still young women in the UK who miss school because they can't afford sanitary products'

Amika George, who started the #FreePeriods campaign told the i newspaper: "This is a victory for everyone who has been campaigning to eradicate period poverty in schools.

“Periods should never hold back a child from achieving their true potential, and now, after two years of campaigning, we will see menstrual products available for free in all English secondary schools.

“We’re going to keep fighting for better education and work to destigmatise periods. This is a huge step forward for gender equality. We are thrilled that the government has listened and this is proof that activism works.”

Last year, the Department for Education published research suggesting there was no strong link between period poverty and school absence, but campaigners questioned the strength of the findings.

The DfE - which until now has said the onus is on schools to support these pupils - then said it planned to ask headteachers, pupils and parents about "period poverty" in a bid to gather “robust evidence”.

According to children’s charity Plan International UK, almost half the girls in the UK have missed an entire day of school because of their period and one in 10 women aged between 14 and 21 are unable to afford sanitary products.

The free school sanitary products scheme is expected to mirror one already in place in Scotland. It is understood that the Treasury has not yet carried out a detailed costing, but when the Scottish equivalent was announced last year, it was expected to cost £5.2m and help “banish the scourge of period poverty” for 395,000 pupils, college students and university students.

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