Scottish children as young as eleven are receiving sex education from 14-year-olds in a bid to cut teenage pregnancies, but critics have described the scheme as “flawed”.
The Health Buddies pilot project, which is taking place in Dundee, involves pupils as young as 14 teaching younger children about issues such as contraception and puberty.
The so-called ‘health buddies’ are also expected to direct youngsters to where they can get advice on homosexual issues.
But critics see the new project as plodding on with the same failed approach to sex education.
A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland ridiculed it, saying: “The legal age for sexual intercourse is 16. This initiative is the equivalent of having 15-year-olds teach younger children how to drive a car.
“All the evidence suggests the decades we have wasted on such flawed approaches have been counter-productive.”
These concerns were echoed by Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, who said: “Parents and teachers should not be abdicating their responsibilities in this way and using school children to offer advice in areas where they lack the necessary wisdom, experience and maturity.”
His concerns were echoed earlier this week by Mandy Smith, who slept with Rolling Stone Bill Wyman when she was just 14.
She made an impassioned plea for the age of consent to be raised from 16, saying: “I don’t think most 16-year-olds are ready. I think the age of consent should be raised to 18 at a minimum, and some girls aren’t even ready then.”
But Eleanor Conor, spokesman for the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, defended the move, saying: “This is a very important subject and so we have to be very creative about how we deliver it.
“Hopefully, this is a good way of doing that, particularly if the older pupils have been through certain experiences they have regretted.”
The £45,000 a year scheme is being piloted Menzieshill High and Morgan Academy in Dundee.
The city has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe, and if the scheme proves successful it could be rolled out across the rest of Scotland.
Earlier this month it was revealed that the Government had bowed to pressure and withdrawn its highly controversial sex education plans for England.
It is believed the Conservative Party blocked the sex education plans.
Under the proposals, sex education was to become a statutory part of the national curriculum and control over the content of lessons was to be taken away from school governors and given to Whitehall officials.