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Government extends free sanitary products offer to primary schools after policy backlash

PUBLISHED: 09:34 16 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:01 17 April 2019

Primary school pupils in England are to be offered free sanitary products after a government policy covering only secondary schools and colleges was extended. 
Picture: Sonya Duncan

Primary school pupils in England are to be offered free sanitary products after a government policy covering only secondary schools and colleges was extended. Picture: Sonya Duncan

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Children in primary schools are set to be offered free sanitary products after a backlash to a government policy which excluded younger children from accessing them.

In the Spring Statement chancellor Philip Hammond announced a policy to offer free sanitary products to all secondary school and college students in England as part of a push to tackle period poverty – where women and girls are unable to afford such products.

But the plan was lambasted by education and health campaigners for failing to support pupils in primary schools who may be equally in need of help.

After consultation with parents, teachers and pupils the Department for Education said on Tuesday that free sanitary products would also be fully funded in all primary schools in England from early 2020.

The announcement builds on new health, sex and relationships education, including teaching on menstrual wellbeing, which will be implemented in schools from September 2020.

Announcing the new policy, children and families minister Nadhim 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.”

Period poverty was also on the agenda at a Norfolk County Council meeting on Monday, where a Labour motion calling for the council to offer free sanitary products in its toilets was amended by the Conservatives for a full report to be compiled.

Conservative Penny Carpenter said a feasibility study was necessary as providing the products for free could cost more than £550,000.

Norwich has led the way with tackling period poverty in Norfolk. In 2017 the Tricky Period, a scheme to give away free tampons and sanitary pads from libraries to women in need, was launched in the city and has since been adopted by other borough councils including Great Yarmouth, West Norfolk and South Norfolk, as well as in Islington and Somerset.

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