A quarter of Sheffield schools not signed up to free period product scheme

A quarter of schools in Sheffield are yet to sign up to a Government scheme to provide free period products to their pupils, figures suggest.

The Red Box Project, which campaigned for the scheme to be introduced, says with the rising cost of living, it is even more important young people have access to the products.

Department for Education data shows just 76% of 165 eligible state-funded schools in Sheffield ordered period products for their pupils between the start of the scheme in January 2020 and the end of last year.

It means the remaining 24% of schools are yet to take advantage of the scheme.

The figures cover primary and secondary schools, as well as 16 to 19 education providers.

Products schools can order include period pads and tampons, and environmentally friendly alternatives such as period cups and reusable pads.

They are available to all pupils who need them, including those who have forgotten products, start their period unexpectedly, or cannot afford them.

Across England, uptake of the scheme is around 61% in primary schools, but 94% across secondary schools.

Clegg Bamber, co-founder of The Red Box Project, wants more schools to sign up to the project to avoid young people missing school due to a lack of access to period products.

He said: "The rising tide of the cost of living, added to the impact of the pandemic on families and carers, means household budgets are needing to stretch further.

"Free period products can be the lifeline to young people who menstruate but don't have access to period products.

"No young person must miss out on their education because they have their period."

The figures show schools in Sheffield spent an average of £333 each to provide the products in 2021 – around 71% of the £469 spend cap last year.

In 2020, schools in the area spent £226 on average.

Will Quince, minister for children and families, said the Government was encouraging all schools to make the most of the scheme.

"Demand should be no different from Stockport and Slough, to Manchester and Middlesbrough.

“I encourage every school and college to check their stocks and continue to order products before the end of the academic year.

"It is the quickest and simplest way of making sure they are available to everyone who needs them."

Around 817,000 packets of period products were purchased by schools in England last year, 48% of which were eco-friendly or reusable.