Yesterday, FTWW’s CEO had a meeting with Kirsty Williams, the Minister for Education in Wales, to discuss the potential inclusion of ‘Menstrual Well-being Throughout the Life Course’ in the new school curriculum.
In case readers weren’t aware – the school curriculum in Wales will change from 2022. Given how many women across Wales have suffered as a result of a lack of information as an adolescent regarding pelvic pain, what’s ‘normal’ and what’s not when it comes to their menstrual cycles (both physically and mentally), what to expect from menopause, and the on-going taboos around gynae health which have prevented open discussion and help-seeking, FTWW wanted to ensure that their – your – voices were heard, so that the well-being of future generations in Wales can be protected in this regard.
The 2022 curriculum is designed to be very open to schools’ own interpretation. There is a move away from prescribing topics to teachers and, instead, more focus on pupils developing skills to enable them to be well-rounded individuals.
The notion, therefore, of instructing all teachers across Wales to deliver a mandated topic on menstrual well-being isn’t currently felt to be in keeping with the new approach. However, we can assure you that Kirsty and FTWW had a VERY forthright and robust discussion about this; FTWW believes very strongly that there are certain things which SHOULD be mandated, if only to ensure that pupils who are missing lessons as a result of their periods know to seek help and where – as much as anything, we believe this to be an equality issue and we’re cautiously optimistic about Kirsty’s receptivity to that.
Please don’t think that the meeting was futile; there are positives to be taken from it, as follows:
1) With Plaid Cymru’s support, Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) WILL become part of the core curriculum;
2) We have had assurances that this conversation will be the first of many with Kirsty and that ‘content and detail’ within the curriculum will be developed with the on-going input of Wales-based organisations like ours;
3) Potential inclusion of co-produced resources within a teacher-accessed ‘Hwb’;
4) The role and knowledge-base of school nurses will be further explored;
Finally, Kirsty’s people will be re-organising their North Wales workshop on Health and Well-being in the Curriculum if you’re interested and able to come. More details on that to follow, as we receive them.
In short, we believe that there is a strong case for the inclusion of this topic in curriculum guidance. Prior to the meeting with Kirsty, FTWW was represented at the Welsh Assembly’s Cross-Party Group for Women’s Health, where the need for improved education around a whole host of reproductive issues was discussed and agreed. There is an incredible amount of support for our calls from a citizen, organisational, and political level, so our efforts continue!
In the meantime, we would encourage you to sign Endometriosis UK’s petition, which reinforces FTWW’s calls for menstrual well-being to be included in the curriculum – thank you!