Thursday, October 23, 2008
Children as young as five will be taught about sex, drugs and alcohol in compulsory lifestyle lessons, ministers announced today.
Pupils need schools to help them cope with the dangers of modern life such as binge drinking and substance abuse, according to the Government.
But the quality of personal, social and health education is “patchy”, as many teachers are embarrassed to discuss topics such as sexuality in class.
Ministers said putting social education on the national curriculum for five- to 16-year-olds would help cut teen pregnancy rates and binge drinking.
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However, headteachers warned that making the subject compulsory was the wrong approach. The move will also anger some family campaigners who believe young children should not be exposed to sex education.
Britain has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the developed world. Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise among younger people, while binge drinking has been increasingly common for teenagers.
Schools Minister Jim Knight said making social and health education compulsory was “a bold move and a necessary one”.
He added: “Modern life is increasingly complex and we have a duty to equip our young people with the knowledge and skills to deal with it.
“We need structured classroom teaching … Parents bring up children, not schools or governments, but schools can help guide them through the maze of issues and prepare them for the transition from child to adult.”
Mr Knight said the system would be flexible enough to allow schools to take parents’ values and beliefs into account.
This article was posted: Thursday, October 23, 2008 at 9:29 am