Government plans to make sex education compulsory in all schools have been condemned by a pro-life charity but welcomed by the Catholic Education Service.

The move would make sex and relationships education part of the national curriculum. The Government has not announced what this will mean in practice, and will not do so until a consultation has taken place.

It has said that primary and secondary schools will have different requirements. Parents will be able to withdraw their children from classes.

The charity Life said it was “abhorrent” to make sex and relationships education compulsory for children as young as four and said that some campaigners wanted primary school pupils to be taught lessons endorsing masturbation.

Life’s education director Anne Scanlan said: “We have to question what the Government defines as sex education. If it is sex and relationships education in which the emphasis is on relationships, the teaching of self-esteem and self-respect, the avoidance of early pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, then we would support its delivery.”

She added: “If schools are engaged in the delivery of explicit and inappropriate content in the classroom, it should be the absolute right of parents to withdraw their children from such corruptive sessions. We have heard of calls to teach masturbation to four-year-olds as part of sex education and leaflets telling primary school children that it is up to them to decide when to have sex.”

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