#periodpositive Schools Charter - Context Briefing

Published: 15 October 2017
Local education consultant and former PSHE head Chella Quint has been developing the #periodpositive project to transform how schools address menstruation education, based on research with local pupils, teachers and parents. The aim is for it to be piloted in Sheffield schools and then rolled out nationally in time for the introduction of the new RSE curriculum.

There is a #periodpositive commission opportunity on the commissions page of the Learn Sheffield website - 041 #periodpositive Schools Charter.


“#periodpositive provides well-researched guidance on menstruation education which is an essential element of gender equality work in all schools. The Gender Respect Project at DECSY recommends the #periodpositive Charter and it will be incorporated into a wider Gender Equality Charter Mark being developed with other European countries.” 

– Helen Griffin, Education adviser, DECSY (Development Education Centre South Yorkshire)


“Research from the Sex Education Forum found that one in four young people don’t learn about menstruation in lessons before they reach puberty, demonstrating a real need for better education in this area. #periodpositive does just that and more, through fantastic resources that challenge misinformation about menstruation and offer an alternative to the narrative that we shouldn’t talk about periods.

With Brook, FPA recently ran a workshop with young people, asking them to evaluate the kind of relationships and sex education they wanted. They loved #periodpositive’s LGBT+ inclusive approach, and the fact that lessons not only deal with issues related to menstruation management (including less well-known reusable options), but also support young people to critically analyse the messaging they hear about periods and address issues like period poverty.”

– Laura Russell, Policy and public affairs manager, FPA (Family Planning Association)


A short history of the #periodpositive Project 

For International Women’s Day 2013 I was invited by Sheffield City Council to speak at the Women’s Health event at Sheffield Town Hall in order to introduce my #periodpositive schools research and practice. At that time I was head of PSHE at Firth Park Academy (then Community Arts College) and completing the part-time education master’s programme at Sheffield Hallam University.

I worked with focus groups of Year 9 pupils to audit what they knew, what their experience was of menstrual taboos, the influence of advertising and how confident they were about getting support in school. Then they worked in a learning lab with me to test resources that could disrupt the negative messages and give them the tools to reframe their own and public attitudes to menstruation. The response from pupils, parents and colleagues was excellent, and I was able to reproduce similar positive outcomes with more pupils and teachers.

During the course of my research I found that pupils wanted to see a symbol that would let them know they could talk to someone about periods. I created the easily recognisable smiling blooddroplet logo as a sign to young people that even though many people still feel uncomfortable talking about periods, there are plenty who will. I developed the #periodpositive logo as a charter mark with the hope of sharing it in schools locally and further afield as a symbol of confidence when talking and educating about menstruation.

I have since won the Prove It Award from the Sheffield Hallam University Enterprise programme for the idea to develop a charter mark, and the Specialist Factual Presenter Award from the Sheffield International Documentary Festival for my educational documentary ideas. My work has also featured locally in the Gender Respect Project at the DECSY (Development Education Centre South Yorkshire) and in programmes with Sexual Health Sheffield and the Sheffield PSHE Teachers Group.

On a national level, my work has recently been recognised by leading sexual-health charities Brook and the FPA (Family Planning Association) as exemplar material to be submitted in a report to the Department for Education about the new RSE (relationships and sex education) curriculum. In addition, I’m a member of the Sex Education Forum National Teachers Group, and I contributed to the Wellcome Trust-funded Prepared for Puberty Project in 2015-16.


Introducing the rationale behind the Charter

In a school context, getting “the period talk” right is crucial to young people’s health and wellbeing. Ensuring that pupils feel safe and comfortable getting their periods at school, accessing supplies and approaching staff for support are all vitally important. Research with pupils and teachers in Sheffield through #periodpositive and the Gender Respect Project has shown the surprisingly wide-reaching benefits of creating a taboo-free atmosphere for all pupils around what can be a sensitive subject.

This autumn, #periodpositive is offering a free pilot of the #periodpositive Charter for schools as a way to evidence that:

  • young people understand the variety of menstrual products that are available, know the biological facts of menstruation and feel comfortable challenging negative stereotypes

 ● staff can explain the different types of menstrual products and how to access them, can create and deliver accurate and engaging lessons that do not rely on corporate leaflets and can develop strategies for challenging any behaviour that reinforces taboos

 ● the school environment includes appropriately equipped toilets that can be accessed at all times, offers disposable menstrual products to pupils without showing bias toward any one product or brand’s message, educates pupils about reusable products and supports menstruators with a variety of special needs.


I have a longstanding commitment to advising on and supporting the implementation of charter marks because of the support they can provide schools intent on making positive changes for their pupils. Charters work because they give schools a framework and inspire individuals who want to make a change but don’t know where to begin. The #periodpositive charter has been developed with support from the EU-funded Gender Equality Charter project, on which I am one of the expert advisers, and I was also on the team that helped to develop the Sheffield LGBT Charter. While still in my role as a drama teacher, I was a registered Arts Council Artsmark assessor at Bronze, Silver and Gold Levels.

#periodpositive is committed to encouraging both its affiliated schools, and schools on a local and national level, to become involved – and is dedicated to inspiring people to spread the word that it’s time to be open and positive about periods. 

There is still a cultural taboo around how much and how often we teach about menstruation in school. Several pieces of recent research have shown a strong link between perceived public attitudes to menstruation and young menstruators’ attitudes to their own reproductive health, or body literacy, and their self-esteem, which can adversely affect wellbeing and attendance in school; recent evidence also suggests a future lack of confidence in accessing reproductive healthcare.


Scoping study 

A baseline audit supporting the school to see whether it already meets some criteria for the Bronze or Silver award, if simple changes can be made, what staff and young people know and how comfortable they feel talking about menstruation in that particular school. This will include:

● curriculum-mapping session

● chat with key informants who come into contact with menstruation management and menstrual worries – representatives from: cleaning/caretaking staff, behaviour team, attendance & pastoral teams

● focus-group session with school-selected pupils in Y7 and Y9 with parental permission

● short survey to be filled out in form time or PSHE lessons with Y8 and Y10 pupils

● parent voice focus group or survey (based on what is feasible depending on home/school contact)


Menstruation 101 session 

● brief history of menstruation in UK culture, including advertising messages

● facilitated time to reflect on attitudes to menstruation and self-assess comfort levels and


Prior Knowledge

● interactive activities to support staff to spot and challenge instances of menstrual taboos


Training for Trainers session

● practical activities for development

● support for peer mentors and champions

● run-throughs of lesson plan activities

● advice on creating new resources for individual pupil needs

● advice for including trans and nonbinary menstruators


Further reading

Period Poverty Panic


“I wrapped a sock around my underwear just to stop the bleeding, because I didn't want to get shouted at”


Nearly half of girls do not know what is happening when they start their first period, study reveals



My response piece in the Guardian


“It’s time to acknowledge that we need to start working on medium- and long-term solutions, such as improving menstruation education, removing branding from school resources and eradicating the period taboo for ever”


Chella Quint

September 2017


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