Sex education coming to primary schools

Ministers have pledged to make sex education compulsory at both primary and secondary school levels.

Under new plans revealed today personal social and health education (PSHE) will be made a statutory requirement from age five onwards.

Sex education will sit alongside other subject areas including learning about drugs and alcohol, healthy lifestyles and money management.

The announcement comes as the government accepts the recommendations of a steering group set up as a result of December 2007’s Children’s Plan.

By addressing sex and relationship issues from an early age the Department for Children, Schools and Families hopes to combat high teenage pregnancy rates and challenge the perception that learning about sex currently takes place in a “moral vacuum”.

Schools minister Jim Knight said the decision to teach children as young as five about sex was a “bold move and a necessary one”.

“Modern life is increasingly complex and we have a duty to equip our young people with the knowledge and skills to deal with it,” he said.

“It’s vital that this information doesn’t come from playground rumour or the mixed messages from the media about sex.

“We need structured classroom teaching, set within a clear understanding of right and wrong that emphasises the importance of family relationships.”

Primary school teaching about sex will include recognising that animals produce offspring, naming parts of the body, preparing for puberty and being able to talk about feelings and friendships.

Children’s minister Baroness Delyth Morgan said the changes would ultimately benefit society on a range of levels.

“This will help the drive to reduce teenage pregnancy, STIs, drug abuse and binge drinking – as well as equipping young people with a range of essential life skills,” she said.