The judgement of headmaster and school-governor groups has been cast into doubt after they took part in a sex education study sponsored by a condom company.
The controversial decision, which comes amidst increasing concern about the content of sex education, has been slammed by family campaigners.
Norman Wells, from Family and Youth Concern, said: “You hardly need clearer proof of the fact that sex education is being seen as a way of widening the market for contraceptive companies.
“Durex have a vested commercial interest in persuading more people to use their product.”
As part of the study Durex paid for an analyst to examine the views of more than 1,400 head teachers, governors and parents on the provision of sex education.
Each of these people had taken part in online surveys carried out by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), the National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations (NCPTA).
But Mr Wells cautioned that they had made “an error of judgment in allowing themselves to be used for commercial purposes in this way.”
Durex produced the final report for the study, which bore the company’s logo, and paid for a PR company to issue a press release on behalf of the other parties.
But Russell Dobby, general secretary of the NAHT, denied that the survey had been unduly influenced.
He said: “The sponsor had no role in the design of the survey or, of course, the views expressed by the people who responded. Sponsorship merely enabled the research to take place.”
And a spokesman for Durex insisted that they didn’t see sex education as a way of expanding their market, saying: “It’s about improving the sexual health of the nation”.
The survey said that nine out of 10 parents want their children to receive information about practising safe sex and using contraception.
It also claimed that eight out of 10 teachers don’t feel they have the training or confidence to deliver such information.
In July a study by Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, warned that parents were “rarely” consulted about their children’s lessons involving sex education.
The study also found that some schools were failing to help children to ‘say no’ to sex, in their Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education lessons.
The study, which looked at 165 schools in England, also covered alcohol awareness education and said children should be taught about the illegality of underage drinking.
However, no such mention of the illegality of having sex under the age of consent was made in the report.
In May it was revealed that angry mums had slammed a primary school’s plan to show pupils an explicit sex ed video, and warned that it could cause children to experiment sexually.
The video, a Channel 4 production called Living and Growing, shows a naked cartoon couple chasing each other around a bed and then having sex, while a voice-over gives a detailed description of the action.
Cliff Lane Primary School was planning to show the video to seven-year-old pupils, but outraged mums were left horrified after they saw the graphic DVD during a consultation.
Kara Munday, whose five-year-old daughter attends the school, said: “We are genuinely concerned that sexual activity would take place because they would be aware of what these parts do and how to make it feel nice”.
She added: “Their innocence will be taken away at an early age.”