The government will fund free sanitary products in all primary schools in England from early next year, it has been revealed.
The news comes a month after Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the Spring Statement that girls in English secondary schools and colleges would have access to free tampons and sanitary towels from 2020.
Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi said the decision to extend the programme to primary schools followed discussions with parents, students and teachers.
“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,” he said, adding that the decision would impact more than 20,000 primary schools.
In a further bid to tackle period poverty, the government will also set up its own special taskforce – backed by £250,000 – to work with businesses to develop new ideas, it was announced on Tuesday.
A 2017 survey by Plan International UK found that one in ten girls have found themselves unable to afford period products, while 12% have been forced to improvise sanitary wear.
Amika George, founder of period poverty campaign #FreePeriods, branded the news that free sanitary products would be introduced to primary schools “fantastic”.
“Period poverty should never be a barrier to education,” she said. “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.”
Ministers said the move would build on new relationships, sex and health education in schools to ensure that every pupil learns about healthy living, including “menstrual wellbeing”.