Girls can get free tampons and sanitary pads at school – but just 60% have signed up

GIRLS in schools and colleges can get free tampons and sanitary pads but only 60 per cent of institutions have signed up to the scheme.

Charities have claimed that educational institutions are unaware that they can order the products for their students under a government scheme.

Since the scheme was launched in England in January, just 40 per cent of schools and colleges have placed orders.

This means that hundreds of thousands of children are going without sanitary products.

The government says the scheme has been operational throughout the pandemic but charities have argued that the scheme needs to be promoted more as schools return next month.

Schools are able to order sanitary products online and can place orders via email and on the phone.

Speaking to the BBC, Gemma Abbott, from the Free Periods group said that many schools and students are still not aware of the scheme.

She said this means that many may miss out on lessons if they don't have access to such products.

"The government also needs to take some responsibility for the fact that more than 60 per cent of eligible schools and colleges have yet to sign up to the scheme", she said.

The products are supplied by Phs – which also runs the government's online order portal.

The group said it expects the scheme to see an increase in September.

Back in January the Department for Education (DoE) said that it was committed to ensuring that "no young person's education is disrupted by their period".

The scheme was launched under an "opt in" option but the department said this might be reconsidered depending on the uptick of it.

The DoE has said it expects the scheme to return to pre-lockdown levels once schools fully reopen.

Warren Edmondson, managing director of phs Direct said the onus falls on schools and colleges to claim the free products for their students.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen many households lose their incomes.

Research from Plan International shows that around three in 10 girls in the UK have experienced issues when it comes to being able to afford to buy sanitary products when they need them.

It also found that one in five girls was unable to suitable manage their period due to a lack of toilet roll.

The scheme follows the launch of similar options in Scotland and Wales.

Scotland launched its scheme last year following a pilot scheme whereby students from low income households in Aberdeen were given free products.

Wales also introduced a scheme in April 2019.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We introduced the period product scheme earlier this year so that students are able to access these products when they need them at school or college.

“The scheme remained in operation during partial school closures, and schools and colleges were able to order a range of period products through the online portal and distribute them to students.

“With all schools open from the start of the autumn term, we expect uptake of the scheme to return to pre-lockdown levels.”

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