Sex education would become a statutory subject in state primary schools under plans from the Labour Party, the Shadow Education Secretary has reiterated.
Lucy Powell said issues such as the widespread sharing of sexual images by children would be best addressed by making Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE), which includes sex education, statutory in “all state-funded schools”.
However, last week a sociology professor said sex education was not an effective way of improving children’s attitudes towards sex.
Currently, local authority maintained secondary schools must teach sex education, but free schools, academies and all primary schools are not required to do so.
The Christian Institute has previously warned of the dangers of nationally prescribed sex education, and has revealed explicit material used in some sex education lessons.
Outlining Labour’s position, Lucy Powell MP said that sexting – sharing a sexual image online or through mobile phones – is “skyrocketing” among children.
“Youngsters are being pushed into adult territory well before they are ready”, she said and commented that if the current Government does not act, then Labour would seek to make PSHE statutory as “one of the first things” it does in Government.
Last month Education Secretary Nicky Morgan rejected calls to make sex education a statutory subject in all primary and secondary schools in England.
At the time, spokesman for The Christian Institute, Humphrey Dobson, said: “Decisions about sex education should not be centralised. They should continue to be taken at the local level by teachers, parents and governors working in partnership.
“A national curriculum for sex education would see control taken away from schools and put in the hands of those who advocate the use of material which most parents would find unacceptable.”
In February last year, the then Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt said all state-funded schools would be forced to teach lessons about sex and relationships, starting at the age of five, if Labour won the General Election.
Last week, Frank Furedi, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, said challenging the “corrosive” influence of pornography in adult society will help children fight back against sexting.
“Children believe that it is their sexual identity rather than their accomplishments that gains them recognition”, he said, noting that raising children’s aspirations at home and school can help them “to take themselves more seriously”.
“Sex education is not an effective medium for achieving this objective. A far broader approach promoting a culture of learning is needed”, he said.