Schools secretary Ed Balls yesterday said that personal, social, health and economic (PHSE) education will become a statutory part of the national curriculum, with sex and relationship education forming a key part of the subject.
Parents currently have the right to withdraw their children from sex education up until the age of 19. However, Mr Balls said the new plans would mean that they would only be allowed to withdraw their children until the age of 15.
‘This means that every young person will receive at least one year of sex and relationship education before their 16th birthday,' Mr Balls said.
Julie Bentley, chief executive of the fpa said: ‘This is a sensible and responsible decision that'll have a profoundly positive impact on the sexual health and well-being of all our young people for generations to come.
‘Starting SRE at primary school is absolutely essential. By doing this children are gently introduced to some very simple facts so they'll be ready to learn about complicated issues like puberty, relationships, sex and looking after themselves when they're older.'
The announcement comes following a review in 2007, which found that the quality of sex and relationship education was too variable and failing to meet young people's needs.
Pupils will also be taught about drug and alcohol as part of the PHSE curriculum.