Period products will be available to all schools and colleges in England from next week, the government has said.
The move will ensure kids don’t miss out on lessons due to their period and help break down stigma surrounding menstruation, according to the Department for Education (DfE).
Under the scheme, schools and colleges will be able to order a range of sanitary products, including eco-friendly options, so that they are available when young women need them.
Campaigners had been calling for the government to take action due to concerns that some girls, particularly those from lower-income families, could miss class during their periods as they are unable to afford sanitary products.
Children and families minister Michelle Donelan said: “Periods are a normal part of everyday life and we do not want young people missing out on lessons because of them. We know that it is not easy for everyone to access period products where and when they need them.
“This scheme will deal with those problems so young people can go about their daily lives without getting caught out if they have come on their period unexpectedly, forgotten to bring products with them or if they can’t afford the products they need.”
Research carried out for the charity Plan International UK in 2017, into the extent of period poverty in the UK, found one in 10 young women aged 14-21 have been unable to afford sanitary wear while 12% had had to improvise protection due to affordability issues.
Amika George, founder of the #FreePeriods campaign group, said: “As a grassroots, student-led movement, Free Periods has been fighting for every single child in this country to be able to go to school without worrying about their next pad or tampon. For the first time in history, this scheme will ensure that becomes a reality.”
She added: “Free products in schools will ensure that every child can learn and be their very best, without periods holding them back.”
The roll-out of period products to England’s primaries and secondaries comes months before health education is due to become compulsory in state schools.
Both the Scottish and Welsh governments have announced schemes to make free period products available in schools, and in Scotland, in universities as well.