The results of the recent Task and Finish consultation into the effects of periods in school are now available and 28% of those who responded said they had missed days in school in the last year because they couldn’t access suitable sanitary products. 38% of Year 7 pupils also admitted they had to miss days off primary school.
We recently asked our female students about access to sanitary wear in schools and whether or not they sometimes missed school because they were having their period.
The results were reported to the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee who heard the availability of sanitary products and sanitary disposal facilities in schools are available across all schools but students don’t always know about it. There’s also a difference between where free sanitary products are available and how students would like to get hold of them with students preferring to get them straight from vending machines or boxes in toilets and staff preferring indirect access through nominated member of staff.
The consultation also showed that there is a provision of sanitary disposal facilities across schools but not all of them are in line with Welsh Government guidance on this issue.
We also asked about the type of sanitary products students would prefer to be available and overall sanitary towels and tampons are the preferred products.
Less than 50% of those who responded thought the choice and quality of products available is suitable with comments pointing to the need for students to have more choice.
Other key messages also came through such as access to toilets during the school day and how students can find out about the provision of sanitary products.
The work of the WINGS Wrexham project was praised by the Group. Under the Project free sanitary products are made available in schools from a nominated teacher with links to student support services and nominated pupil ambassadors and the benefits of this method of distribution noted was. However, it was felt that in line with the views expressed in the consultation this should not be the only method of distribution to students who should also have direct access to dispensing shelves.
The group felt the limited Government revenue grant funding be prioritised as follows:-
- the provision of sanitary towels across all Secondary Schools for direct access within the toilet cubicles, with tampons also being made available on request from a nominated member of staff, in accordance with education guidance.
- some provision of sanitary towels in all primary schools
The Head of Education is requested to submit an Information Report on the spending of this Welsh Government grant funding in March 2019.
The Chair of the Committee will now forward the report and recommendations to the relevant Welsh Government Ministers , along with highlighting the ongoing need for specific and sufficient funding to address the issue of period poverty.
The Head of Education will advise all schools that sanitary bins should be provided in all age appropriate toilet cubicles, as recommended in Welsh Government guidance and reflected in the Council’s model School Hygiene Policy, and consideration be given to exploring the current cost of provision with a view to improving procurement of sanitary disposal facilities across all schools, including opportunities for collaborative procurement.
The Head of Education will also continue to capture opportunities to work with voluntary groups and businesses to contribute to the provision of free female sanitary products for schools in the longer term (eg WINGS scheme which provides and publicises free female sanitary products in schools which can be obtained from a nominated teacher with links to student support services and nominated pupil ambassadors).
A progress report will be available in 18 months time.
You can take a look at the report here.
Chair of the Task and Finish Group, Cllr Carrie Harper, said: “On behalf of the group I would like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation. The results will help to improve the situation for our female students who will hopefully be able to access suitable and free sanitary products in the future.”
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