Free sanitary products are to be made available in secondary schools and colleges across England from September.

The measure was announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in a short Spring Statement on Wednesday.

Addressing MPs, he said the products would be made available in secondary schools and colleges across England from September.

Mr Hammond said: "In response to rising concern by head teachers that some girls are missing school attendance due to inability to afford sanitary products, I have decided to fund the provision of free sanitary products in secondary schools and colleges in England from the next school year."

Details of the scheme will be announced by the Department for Education in due course.

While campaigners and unions welcomed the move, some argued it should also be extended to universities and primary schools.

Paul Whiteman, general-secretary of the National Association for Head Teachers said: "It is very welcome news that free sanitary products will be available in schools and colleges from the next academic year.

"Too many girls miss out on vital education each month as a lack of access to sanitary products forces them to miss school.

"Even those pupils who do not suffer period poverty will benefit from free access to sanitary products, ensuring no child is without protection during what can be a very stressful and vulnerable time.

"It would, however, be good to see free sanitary products further extended to Year 6 as many girls start their periods before secondary school."

In response to a question in the Commons, Mr Hammond added later he was "quite open to sensible suggestions" for how to address the issue in primary schools.

Lucy Russell, head of girls' rights and youth at the children's charity Plan International UK, said: "Today's announcement is a major breakthrough for girls affected by period poverty across the UK.

"The campaign for change has been led by girls' voices and it's encouraging to see the Government recognising their needs in UK policy."

But she added: "It isn't enough just to provide free period products to schools.

"If we're to put an end to period poverty then we also need to tackle the 'toxic trio' of issues at the root of the problem - namely high-cost period products, lack of education and the stigma and shame surrounding periods."

The University and College Union also welcomed the plan but said it now wanted to see the scheme rolled out in universities, as is the case in Scotland.