The government is “considering options” for supporting primary school children with access to free sanitary products, a minister has said, following criticism that its current plans to tackle period poverty do not go far enough.
The chancellor Philip Hammond announced in his spring statement earlier this month that the government will fund free sanitary products in all secondary schools and colleges in England.
As we develop the plans, we will consider options for supporting primary school children
Although the announcement was widely welcomed and hailed as a victory for anti-period poverty campaigners, ministers were criticised for not including primary school-age pupils in their plans, despite the fact many girls start their periods before they are 11.
Quizzed by Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran on what the DfE will do to provide free sanitary products to younger pupils, children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi said the government was considering its options.
“No one should be held back from reaching their potential because of their gender or background,” he said in response to a written parliamentary question.
“That is why the chancellor of the exchequer announced in his spring statement on March 13 that the Department for Education will lead a scheme to provide access to free sanitary products in all secondary schools and colleges in England.
“As we develop the plans, we will consider options for supporting primary school children.”
Speaking following the original announcement earlier this month, Amika George, a teenaged anti-period-poverty campaigner credited with influencing the government’s decision, urged ministers to extend the pledge to “all schools”.
“Periods should never hold back a child from achieving their true potential, whatever their age.”
The NAHT school leaders’ union also wants the scheme extended.
“It would be good to see free sanitary products further extended to year 6, as many girls start their periods before secondary school,” said general secretary Paul Whiteman.