Children at primary schools should not be taught sex education because “many kids just aren’t ready for it”, UKIP has said.
Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall, who speaks for the party on education issues, criticised a culture which exposes children to “things they’re not always developmentally ready for”.
He was responding to Guardian readers’ questions in a series which quizzes party representatives ahead of the General Election.
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.
Nuttall commented that he could see why “some parents might want to teach their kids about sex, if the individual child is ready to learn that”. “But not all children are”, he added.
He continued: “The state shouldn’t be teaching such things at an age where many kids just aren’t ready for it.”
Nuttall also noted that “children are bombarded with sexualised imagery through magazines, clothing and advertising”.
In a wide ranging interview, the UKIP education spokesman also said it is “only natural that teaching about Christianity will be a core part of religious education”.
He said: “Children should be taught about all religions, but not required to partake in a religious act or ceremony.”
Last month a committee of MPs said children in all primary and secondary schools should be taught sex education.
The MPs’ report recommended that the Department for Education “clarify that children in primary schools should be taught the proper names for genitalia as part of the National Curriculum”.
However, The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs, Simon Calvert, criticised the politicians’ call.
He said 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”.