Free Periods

The Government's policy on school attendance is clear. Evidence suggests that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chance of gaining good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances. Because of this, parents have a duty to ensure that their children of compulsory school age attend school regularly. I am encouraged that schools already have discretion over how they can use their funding and if they want to make sanitary products available to disadvantaged students, they are free to do so.
Clearly, no child should ever have to miss school because of their period. The fact that there is VAT on sanitary products is a as result of our EU membership but the Government have made a commitment to remove VAT on women's sanitary products as soon as legally possible. This will reduce the cost, making them more affordable. The UK has a world-leading system of support for low-income families through means-tested benefits. In fact, the UK spends more public money on families than any other country in the G7. Through the introduction of the National Living Wage and taking more than four million people out of income tax altogether, we are giving the lowest earners the biggest pay rise in a generation. 
I also welcome the new plans to make relationships and sex education (RSE) mandatory in all secondary schools in England and make relationships education mandatory in primary schools. The plans also include measures to allow personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education to be mandatory if necessary in the future. As part of these subjects pupils will be taught the knowledge and life skills they need to stay safe and healthy as they grow up. Schools will have the flexibility to ensure their approach is sensitive to and meets the needs of their local community. Schools already have a duty of care towards their pupils, including in providing pastoral care. This means that if children are struggling with personal issues they have a responsibility to intervene and provide support.