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Sunderland’s Portland Academy sees an attendance increase following a government scheme to end period poverty

Portland Academy is celebrating three years of being part of the Department for Education’s period equality, which has created an increase in attendance thanks to free products.

Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 2:38 pm

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The Government's period poverty scheme has helped increase attendance at Sunderland's Portland Academy.
The Government's period poverty scheme has helped increase attendance at Sunderland's Portland Academy.

Leadership staff at the Ascent Trust’s Portland Academy, in Chapelgarth, have praised the scheme for providing a boost in attendance and for promoting more open conversations surrounding the topic of periods.

Karen Hart, 48, assistant head at the school said: “We’ve definitely seen an increase in attendance in terms of learners who were potentially taking time off during their period, which has also positively impacted their whole wellbeing and progress in schools.

"It’s been so important to us to ensure that the scheme has good visibility at the school, so that we can normalise conversations around periods, and if anyone needs extra support.”

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To ensure that products are available, Portland Academy has created a number of freshen-up stations have been set up in all the bathrooms, and in particular in female bathrooms, period products are available alongside perfume, deodorants and hygiene wipes.

Teacher Rebecca Ross, 36, who facilitates the scheme at the school, has highlighted how important it has been for pupils and helps to avoid “embarrassment”.

She commented: “There are so many reasons why this scheme is needed. Some families simply don’t have enough money, some might live just with their dads and they might be too embarrassed to speak to them, some might come from different cultural backgrounds where periods are just not spoken about.”

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The high visibility of the scheme at the school has also encouraged more open conversations with the boys at the school, which has further normalised the discussion of periods.

Graeme Musson, 40, deputy head at the school added: “We have fewer male staff at the school than female, which is quite typical of SEN settings, but this doesn’t mean that we shy away from having these conversations.

“We ensure that we have males delivering lessons about periods and making the entire male population of the school aware of periods."