Introduction to the NI Period Dignity Pilot Scheme
Period Dignity refers to the accessibility and availability of essential care needed to support a period, in conjunction with the breaking of stigma and taboo around periods.
The NI Executive agreed in December 2020 to fund a pilot scheme to provide free period products to all schools in Northern Ireland with effect from September 2021.
The scheme aims to ensure that period products are available to learners who menstruate where and when they need them, as well as provide educational support within the school setting.
CCEA is working in collaboration with the Department of Education, the Education Authority, and a wider educational steering group, to oversee upcoming curriculum materials and the launch of a bespoke online Teacher Professional Learning Programme for schools.
Education is a key factor in addressing the stigma surrounding periods, promoting respect and understanding, as well as enabling open discussions about what people may experience when menstruating.
This pilot scheme also aims to tackle period poverty by helping learners who menstruate reach their potential. Period poverty generally refers to poor menstrual knowledge and/or access to period products.
CCEA's Period Poverty Surveys
CCEA conducted a series of online surveys during June 2021 to understand the frequency and extent of period poverty among students in Northern Ireland.
Results of this engagement showed that 98.2 per cent of pupils and 98.8 per cent of teachers welcomed the proposed new government scheme to supply free period products in schools.
Almost 1,500 people (1,711 pupils and 770 teachers) took part in this engagement process which focused on three key areas:
- the cost of period products;
- accessibility of period products; and
- related shame, stigma and taboo.
A full report on the survey findings will be available on the CCEA website in November 2021.
Support for schools
The Period Dignity Pilot Scheme addresses the specific needs of the school sector. Inclusive education on periods and menstrual wellbeing is key to giving all young people opportunities to understand and challenge common misconceptions and related stigma.
CCEA will support this project by providing curriculum materials and an Online Teacher Professional Learning Programme for all schools in Northern Ireland including all-boys’ schools as they may share classes with girls from neighbouring schools.
The Education Authority (EA) is responsible for the procurement system that enables all schools, including all-boys' schools, to purchase period products to ensure they are accessible to learners and pupils who need them, when they need them.
All schools should follow the Period Dignity policy and guidance document they received earlier this year to check their allocated budget for free products and place orders on the EA iProcurement portal.
CCEA is requesting that schools nominate a Period Dignity Key Contact for communication and training purposes via this online form. Larger post-primary schools may wish to identify an additional key contact.
These representatives will be notified of further details regarding the Period Dignity and Menstrual Wellbeing Teacher Professional Learning Webinars which are now open for registration.
All queries in relation to the Period Dignity policy and guidance document from schools should be directed to CCEA using the contact details below.
The Education Authority will answer operational queries on the procurement of period products for schools:
CCEA will answer queries on the upcoming curriculum materials and online teacher professional learning programme that will be available later this term:
Deidre Coffey | CCEA Education Manager – Period Dignity Project
Roisin Radcliffe | CCEA Programme Manager
Department of Education
The Department of Education will answer wider policy questions about the overall purpose and funding of the pilot scheme.
Ashleigh Mitford | Tackling Educational Disadvantage Team
Dale Heaney | Tackling Educational Disadvantage Team