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The Welsh Government Deputy Minister has visited pupils in Ferndale, who were instrumental in helping Rhondda Cynon Taf become the first Council in Wales to introduce free sanitary provision for female learners in all of its schools.

Deputy Minister and Chief Whip Jane Hutt joined Cabinet Member with responsibility for Education, Cllr Joy Rosser, at Ferndale Community School on May 8 – to meet pupils who helped inform the important policy, that was implemented from September 2018.

In April 2018, Cabinet agreed to introduce an improved and consistent approach to schools’ sanitary provision, utilising Welsh Government funding. Members agreed an implementation plan which has since been achieved – including a six-month trial in selected schools in the summer term 2018, a review and wider implementation from September 2018.

All schools in Rhondda Cynon Taf with pupils aged nine and above must now provide free sanitary products for female learners to access independently.

The change followed an amended notice of motion considered by Full Council in July 2017. The Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee established a working group to investigate current provision, working closely with young people to gauge their feelings and experiences. Ferndale Community School played an important role in this process, in order to inform Cabinet’s decision.

During April 2019, the First Minister of Wales announced funding to ensure that, in the future, every female learner in primary and secondary schools across Wales will have access to free sanitary products.

Wednesday’s visit saw Cllr Rosser, along with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Director of Education Gaynor Davies, the Children & Young People’s Service Manager Jessica Allen, Ferndale Community School Headteacher Emma Clarke, welcome the Deputy Minister to the school.

The Deputy Minister then took part in a focus group with the pupils. They talked about taking part in working group’s research, their opinions on the need for free sanitary provision in schools, and how the new policy has helped improved the situation and removed barriers to their learning.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “I was delighted to welcome the Deputy Minister to Ferndale Community School, to meet pupils who helped inform the policy which has seen Rhondda Cynon Taf become the first Council in Wales to provide free sanitary products for female learners. The visit was on the back of the First Minister’s announcement that the whole of Wales will follow in our footsteps in introducing this vital measure.

“I would like to give particular thanks to the pupils in Ferndale, who were part of the Scrutiny working group’s research into this area. Their participation included sharing personal experiences about a very difficult subject to talk about. But with their input, the working group was able to report back on the challenges our female learners faced.

“The young people have ultimately helped shape and implement the new policy, which was rolled out across Rhondda Cynon Taf. They were once again a credit to their school during Wednesday’s visit by the Deputy Minister, taking part in the focus group with great insightfulness and maturity.”

Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, speaking in relation to the First Minister’s recent announcement about providing free sanitary provision for female learners across Wales, said: “It is wholly unacceptable for anyone not to be able to access essential period products because they can’t afford them.

“It is essential that ample sanitary products, as well as good facilities, are available to all female learners so they can manage their periods with confidence and remove what is an unnecessary barrier to their education.

“We are committed to supporting period dignity and tackling this inequality in Wales. This funding will help make period products available to learners in all schools, free of charge and in the most dignified way possible.”

Posted on Thursday 9th May 2019

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