Access to free period products: information for schools and kura
Poor access to period products can affect attendance and engagement at school.
Approximately one in 12 students reported having missed school due to lack of access to period products.
Students can miss out on learning, sporting and cultural activities, and feel embarrassed and ashamed if they can’t access products to manage their periods. This negatively impacts their achievement and wellbeing.
Access to period products is available to all state and state-integrated schools and kura in New Zealand. Research shows that the average age young people start menstruating is decreasing, and access to period products is needed in primary and intermediate, as well as secondary schools.
Taking part in the initiative is not compulsory. Schools and kura are best placed to understand local needs and can decide if it is in their best interests to opt-in to receive period products. We would expect school boards to be involved in decisions to opt-in.
Initial feedback indicates that access to period products is already a concern for a number of schools. Some are already providing period products to students through charitable providers or by using their own resources. There are also schools where a need may not be so obvious, for example a boys’ school that joins with another school for classes or across year groups and includes ākonga of more than one gender.
We are taking a phased approach to providing period products across schools.
The first step will be to tender for the supply and distribution of period products. This tender process will begin during March 2021.
Once this is completed and systems have been set up, we will begin rolling-out products to schools and kura. The first schools and kura will start to receive products from the end of Term 2 with delivery rolling out throughout the year.
How to opt-in
Any state or state-integrated school or kura in New Zealand can choose to opt-in to receive free period products for all ākonga.
To opt-in to the initiative, school leaders simply complete this short online response:
Schools and kura that opt in by 31 March 2021 will be included in the first phase of the roll-out. Schools can continue to opt-in but will be included in later phases of the roll-out.
We will be in contact with further information on timing and next steps once the Government procurement process is complete.
Initially, funding will provide pads and tampons. These products are easy to use and appropriate for a broad range of students’ age, developmental, and cultural needs in a schooling context.
We will work with the selected supplier on the best way for ākonga to access products discreetly and privately. We have learnt from the trial that ākonga value choice in the type and size of product provided and how they get it, such as dispensers in bathrooms in case of emergency, ordering a bulk supply or access via a trusted staff member.
As this initiative develops, we will explore how we can support the use of sustainable products, such as reusable menstrual cups and period underwear alongside educating students around these products. Whilst reusable products can provide a more environmentally friendly option, they are not always suitable for the age range and cultural diversity of young people in schools. Some young people can find it challenging to use these at school and are uncomfortable carrying used products in their schoolbags.
Managing access to period products in schools
There may be some initial input required from schools as the supplier sets up, but once access is up and running the supplier will be responsible for distributing products and managing the ongoing supply, with minimum burden on schools.
Young people are often embarrassed to talk to adults so we will work with schools on the best way to deliver period products that minimises interactions with staff.
We will contact schools and kura that opt-in with more information on timing and next steps once the procurement process is complete.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, please get in touch with your Education Advisor or email email@example.com.
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