UK

Lib Dems Plan Sex Education For Seven-Year-Olds

26/08/2014 09:06 BST | Updated 26/08/2014 11:59 BST

The Liberal Democrats have called for a revamp of sex education saying all children in state-funded schools in England should receive "age-appropriate" classes from the age of seven.

The extension of sex education - strongly resisted by the Conservatives in government - would form part of a "curriculum for life", including education about managing money and citizenship lessons.

David Laws, the education minister, has said that academies and free schools should have to teach sex and relationship education.

school children

Sex education should start at seven, the Lib Dems have said

The plan would mean that personal, social and health education (PSHE) is compulsory in all state-funded schools including academies and free schools, he said.

"We have long made the case, both inside and outside government, for updated sex and relationship education to be taught in all schools, including academies and free schools, but it is not something the Conservatives are open to," Laws said.

The Tories have said teachers knew best how to deliver such education - not bureaucrats or politicians, the BBC reported.

A report published by Ofsted last year found that sex and relationships education needed to be improved in more than a third of schools and called for secondary school pupils to learn more about issues such as pornography, relationships, sexuality and staying safe, rather than just the ''mechanics'' of reproduction.

Sex and relationships education is compulsory in local authority-run state secondary schools, but not in academies or free schools.

The Lib Dem policy would also extend compulsory sex education lessons to key stage 2 - covering children aged between seven and 11.

The proposals will form part of the Lib Dem manifesto at the next general election.

david laws

Lib Dem schools minister David Laws

Laws said it is "vitally important" that children learn all the life skills they need when they are at school.

"Liberal Democrats believe that this should include learning financial literacy, citizenship and age-appropriate sex and relationship education," he said.

"We believe that by educating children about sex and relationships in an appropriate way, we can help them to make informed choices in their personal lives.

"Currently academies and free schools have no requirement to teach sex and relationship education, depriving children of important life lessons. Liberal Democrats are committed to ensuring that children have access to age-appropriate sex and relationship education regardless of where they go to school.

"By learning how to manage money and be a good citizen, we will be equipping children with the skills necessary to deal with the many practical issues that they will face in adult life, such as balancing a budget or voting for the first time.

"Teaching these important life lessons will help to build the stronger economy and fairer society that Liberal Democrats want to see."

The Guardian reported that the Labour party is also committed to extending sex education.

"We proposed this a year ago," a source told the paper. "The Lib Dems have been dragging their feet."