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.
Period Dignity Surveys (2022)
To gain insight into the implementation and impact of the Period Dignity Pilot Scheme since its launch in September 2021, CCEA recently conducted two new surveys, one for pupils and one for teaching staff in Northern Ireland schools.
Responses from these surveys will inform the Department of Education and CCEA on the effectiveness of the scheme so far and be used to make a case for the ongoing provision of period products to Northern Ireland schools.
We would like to thank everyone who recently provided their feedback. The Period Dignity surveys closed on Monday 24 January 2022.
Period Poverty Surveys (2021)
CCEA conducted a series of online surveys during June 2021 to understand the frequency and extent of period poverty among students in Northern Ireland.
Over 2,500 pupils, students and teaching professionals provided invaluable feedback on this important issue, with 98.2% of school pupils and 98.8% of teachers welcoming the proposed new government scheme to supply free period products in NI schools. The full report is now available to view:
CCEA would like to extend its thanks, once again, to the pupils, students, and teaching professionals for sharing their experiences and knowledge of period poverty.
The feedback has helped to inform CCEA’s online Teacher Professional Learning Programme for Primary and Post Primary schools which took place throughout November and December.
Support for schools
The Period Dignity Pilot Scheme addresses the specific needs of the school sector.
CCEA is supporting this project by providing curriculum materials and an online Teacher Professional Learning Programme for all schools in Northern Ireland, including all-boys’ schools. Inclusive education on periods and menstrual wellbeing is key to giving all young people opportunities to understand and challenge common misconceptions and related stigma.
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 boys’ schools can also avail of the procurement system as they may share classes with learners from neighbouring all-girls’ schools.
All schools should follow the Period Dignity policy and guidance document they received earlier this year, 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 resources and Teacher Professional Learning webinars.
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