Children as young as seven should be taught about their “sexual development”, new Government guidance says.
The guidance is designed as a document for schools in England to consult when drawing up their sex and relationships education (SRE) plans.
However, if the new Children, Schools and Families Bill becomes law schools would be forced to teach many of the controversial topics covered by the guidance.
Critics have warned against the guidelines, with a family charity saying the plans “will confirm the fears of many parents that compulsory sex education will be used to indoctrinate their children into thinking that there are no moral absolutes when it comes to sexual expression”.
The guidance suggests a series of questions which teachers could ask children during SRE classes.
These include: “What are the differences between girls and boys’ bodies?” and “Where do babies come from?” for Key Stage 1 (age five to seven).
For Key Stage 2 children, aged between seven and eleven, questions include: “How is puberty part of my sexual development (including production of eggs/sperm)?” and “can conception be prevented?”.
At Key Stage 3, eleven to 14-year-old children will be taught about “sexual orientation”, abortion, civil partnerships and the morning-after pill.
Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, said: “We also want young people to understand the importance of marriage and other stable relationships”.
Critics of the new guidance include Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust, and Margaret Morrissey from campaign group Parents Outloud.
Mr Wells said: “In the name of non-judgmentalism, the Government’s approach is abandoning young people to the shifting sands of relativism and depriving them of the moral compass they so desperately need.”
“Contrary to the Government’s claims, introducing sex education at an early age runs the risk of breaking down children’s natural sense of reserve.
“Far from being a hindrance, children’s natural inhibitions and sense of modesty in talking about sexual matters are healthy and provide a necessary safeguard against both sexual abuse and casual attitudes towards sexual intimacy later on.”
Margaret Morrissey said: “We have been overloading children with information on sex for years and it hasn’t stopped record numbers of them getting pregnant and catching diseases.
“They think, because they’ve had a few lessons on the subject, they can cope with indulging in sex.
“The sensible thing to do would be to wait until these children are grown up and allow them to make their own decisions on sex and relationships.”
The new Bill is set to remove the opt-out for sex education lessons once children reach 15.
It is also includes plans to force faith schools to teach pupils about contraception and homosexuality.