Making the national curriculum more period positive
A new curriculum model has been launched in Parliament to educate all pupils on a more thoughtful approach to menstruation.
Teacher and author, Chella Quint’s, plan is to start educating children about menstruation at the start of primary school through to the end of secondary school.
Chella Quint is the founder of ‘Period Positive’, an organisation committed to breaking the cycle of secrecy, fear and misinformation about periods. She is the author of books ‘Be Period Positive’ and ‘Own Your Period’.
The toolkit in the new model will provide teachers with an outline of age-appropriate information about periods to add into the lessons they plan within their own specialist subjects.
The aim is to empower all pupils to understand and embrace menstruation over time and to take away the shameful taboos surrounding periods.
Chella said: “There is an enormous gap in the curriculum and in our training as teachers.
“Pupils need more than one ‘period talk’ – we need whole-school menstrual literacy.
“This new curriculum model delivers that, serving as a guide for what to teach at what age, and as a tool for teachers to map these essential skills, knowledge and understanding about periods, puberty, menstrual wellbeing and the menopause across their own school subjects, for the benefit of everyone.”
Chella is the former head of PSHE at a school in Sheffield.
She said that she has received input and feedback from pupils, teachers, parents, researchers and health professionals over the last five years, and has agreed the appropriate age and stage for each set of skills, knowledge and understanding.
The project is being supported by many people, including the UK’s gynaecological cancer research charity ‘The Eve Appeal’.
Athena Lamnisos, CEO of The Eve Appeal, said: “Although my fellow activists and I have noticed the beginnings of a change in how people see periods, we are largely still a nation who feels shame, embarrassment or fear about a very normal thing.
“We need to improve our menstrual literacy.
“This lack of education means young people are unable to spot conditions like PCOS, endometriosis, PMDD, womb-related cancers and other health issues sooner.”
Now, the project is being launched nationwide. Chella Quint’s aim is for the curriculum model to be incorporated into the national curriculum by the Department for Education, and taught in all schools.
Olivia Blake, MP for Sheffield Hallam, who is hosting the event, said: “We need to banish the shame and embarrassment we’re often made to feel towards our own bodies.
“Part of that means a proper debate on how we educate children about periods. Rather than a one-off lesson, the Period Positive curriculum integrates learning about our bodies across the whole school.
“It’s an important contribution to the discussion and a proposal we should be exploring.”
A diverse focus group of pupils from Chella’s former school were asked about how they felt about the project. They said they believed it was important to be taught about periods, so they feel comfortable to talk about them.
Frankie Arundel, Head of PSHE and Citizenship at Firth Park Academy, welcomed Chella back to her former school, and said: “Working with Chella has given us so much confidence as a school to teach our whole school community about periods.
“This includes students, staff and families.
“We now have more open and honest conversations about periods, have changed our school environment to be more inclusive and have carried out focus groups with staff on how we could teach about periods across the curriculum.
“It is essential every member of staff feels comfortable and confident to answer questions about periods because they involve everyone.
“Doing this means we will reduce the stigma and shame that can surround periods, and normalise the conversation across the school.”
To find out more, download the curriculum when it is released, and visit www.periodpositive.com