Schoolgirls “considering becoming pregnant”, or are so already, could get the equivalent of a GCSE qualification in parenting.
The young teens will learn about caring for newborn babies, breastfeeding, family finances and how to deal with toddler tantrums.
Family campaigners have criticised the move as “irresponsible” warning it could send the message that having a baby whilst at school is an ‘achievement’.
Despite a ten-year strategy and more than £280 million spent on contraception and sex education, Britain still has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe.
Under the plan, Edexcel, the country’s biggest exam board, will recognise teen parenting courses already coordinated by the National Community Learning Partnership. The course could be equivalent to a GCSE grade D to G.
The courses are currently run in special training centres or pupil behaviour units by charities but now that it will be accredited by the examining board it could be more widely available and may even attract Government funding.
There is no lower age limit to sign up to the course and some girls have joined as young as twelve. Young fathers will also be encouraged to sign up.
The new qualification will take about 16 hours a week for twelve to 19 weeks.
An Edexcel spokesman said: “Schools will be made aware it’s available if they want to recommend any of their pupils who are considering pregnancy or who are already pregnant.”
But Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said the initiative was “irresponsible” and “potentially counterproductive”.
Mr Wells said: “Awarding a qualification to pregnant teenagers and young parents sends out the message that having a baby while still at school is an achievement.”
He added: “There is a danger that this kind of initiative could normalise illegal sexual activity and make it respectable for underage girls to have babies.”