Children in all primary and secondary schools should be taught sex education, a committee of MPs has said.
But The Christian Institute warned the move would “further marginalise and disempower parents”, while pro-family group SPUC said parents, not teachers, are the experts on their own children.
The Education Select Committee report recommends that schools should have to teach sex education as a core component of personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE).
Currently, local authority-run state secondary schools must offer sex and relationships education, but free schools, academies and all primary schools are not required to do so.
The MPs’ report, entitled Life lessons: PSHE and SRE in schools, makes several recommendations, including that:
The Sex Education Forum, one of the groups that put together the 2014 guidance, continues to recommend a sex education video with explicit scenes, despite makers Channel 4 now providing a version with the explicit content toned down, following Government intervention.
The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs, Simon Calvert, responded to the MPs’ report by saying it “may be appropriate” for some young school children to receive basic information, “but it’s wrong for the committee to assume that all primary school children are ready for discussing the very adult issues of sex and relationships”.
“Children at primary school should be left to focus on being a kid rather than thinking about these emotionally demanding issues”, he added.
Safe at School, a campaign run by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, SPUC, said parents “constantly find themselves having to battle with schools in order to protect their children from inappropriate sex education”.
Antonia Tully, who co-ordinates the group, added that a “robust mechanism” is needed to “ensure that schools really do engage with parents”.
The Government has so far resisted calls to introduce statutory sex education. It said it would carefully consider the findings of the new report.
Earlier this month Labour came under fire for saying sex education would become compulsory for children as young as five, if it wins the General Election.
In August 2014 the Liberal Democrats said they wanted schools to start teaching sex education to pupils in Key Stage 2 – children aged seven to eleven.