School kids to be given parenting classes at 14

Children’s Secretary Ed Balls has been accused of “institutionalising” teenage pregnancies by proposing lessons in parenting for 14-year-olds.

The lessons could include teaching about the role and responsibilities of parents, children’s legal rights and how parents can influence their children’s success, according to media reports.

Child development and the role of play may also be part of the lessons.

Shadow Children’s Secretary Michael Gove criticised the plans.

He said: “The most important thing for young people is securing the qualifications which will guarantee a good job and a bright future.

“Every statistic shows that underachievement leads to risky behaviour and a greater risk of drug addiction or teenage pregnancy.”

Margaret Morrissey, from campaign group Parents Outloud, said “I am struggling to think why we need parenting education as young as 14.”

She added the lessons “could create an interest where none existed”.

The Government is set to publish its guidance for teachers of the lessons in the coming months.

At the end of last year controversy surrounded the new sex education proposals which form part of the Government’s Children, Schools and Families Bill.

The Bill, which was announced by Ed Balls in November, contains plans to force schools to teach children Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) from the age of five.

It also says whenever SRE is taught, civil partnerships must be discussed.

Parents will also lose the right to withdraw their children from SRE lessons when they turn 15, under the Bill’s proposals.

Faith schools will not be able to opt out of teaching any aspect of the new SRE programme, but Mr Balls said they may teach the topics according to the “tenets of their faith”.

One newspaper columnist has described the Bill’s plans as “simply a cynical method of enforcing anti-Christian values on faith schools”.

Last year a £6 million Government-backed project designed to curb teenage pregnancies saw conceptions more than double.

The project involved giving teenagers sex education and advice about contraception but at the end of the scheme there were more teenage pregnancies among the youngsters who had taken part than among a comparable group who hadn’t.

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