GIRLS at an Oxford school have reacted in anger after their head of sixth form told them they could not take time off because of their periods.

Jackie Watson sent the email to all Year 12 students at Oxford Spires Academy in Cowley after girls were calling in sick when on their period.

The email, designed to cut back on non-attendance, told students that ‘learning to deal with monthly inconvenience is all part of being a woman’.

However, students at the Glanville Road school feel the email was unfair.

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One student, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “Obviously I have to understand that people cannot take their whole period off each month but that is not what anyone is trying to do.

“Personally, when I am on my period, I experience really painful cramps, meaning I cannot walk without having to be bent double.

“Sometimes, I get so dizzy I pass out or vomit – obviously on these days, I would not consider myself fit to go into school.

“The fact Dr Watson sent the email out to the whole of sixth form as well, including the boys, is just making boys think it isn’t bad and that they shouldn’t be sympathetic.

Oxford Mail:

“I am now quite uncomfortable to think of my next periods and how I will manage them at school, as I’m sure the majority of girls are.”

The email sent out by Dr Watson urged students not to miss out on their education and reminded pupils that painkillers and even heat packs are available from the school matron.

It also read: “Any female student asking to be sent home ‘ill’ or phoning in ‘ill’ who has a period will not find this is a suitable excuse.

“Learning to deal with monthly inconvenience is all part of being a woman, I’m afraid.”

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Another student responded to Dr Watson’s email saying: “Obviously as women, we must find ways of dealing with this, but occasionally, the pain is too much to handle.

“We understand the motive behind the email, and we don’t want to use our periods as a way to prevent our learning but we feel there is a lack of compassion for what girls experience each month.”

Speaking to the Oxford Mail, Dr Watson stressed her email was not intended to address the worst case scenarios.

She said: “Anywhere where you work you can’t take two days off for being on your period.

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“If it’s just an ordinary period, you should come into school – unfortunately taking that time off is not how society works.

“The email is about attendance, that was simply the point – my slightly tongue-in-cheek way of saying it maybe got to some of the girls, but the email was to get across the message to be in school.”

With regards to sending the email to boys as well as girls, Dr Watson admitted that was a mistake.

“I do think they’re right to be upset about that [the email being sent to boys] and I probably shouldn’t have done that and perhaps it was a bit foolish of me,” she said.

Dr Watson reiterated that painkillers and heat packs are available at the school for girls suffering from period pain, and that the school spends ‘a huge amount of time supporting students with issues and health-related matters’.