Teenagers will also be taught about how to protect themselves from “sexting” and porn, under the biggest overhaul to sex education in 17 years. Under plans to be announced by ministers.
The Government will table an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill that will make “age appropriate” sex and relationship education (SRE) part of the national curriculum in primary and secondary schools
The Church of England will announce on Wednesday that they support the introduction of statutory sex education in schools.
However, Andrea Williams, chief executive at Christian Concern, said that teaching SRE to four-year-olds would be “devastating” and risks “robbing them of their innocence”.
“Children of four are should not be introduced to this. Schools need to be safe places where the innocence of children is protected,” she said.
“Very often sex education introduces children to concepts far too soon, destroying their innocence. This is not something that the state should be laying down. We are very concerned about this.”
On Tuesday the Prime Minister gave her backing to system to recognise threats to children from social media and sexual images on the internet.
Asked if the PM was concerned that teaching in classes had not kept pace with threats from the internet, a Downing Street spokesman said: “There is a threat online and that threat we would all recognise has grown.
“That does mean that now is the right time to look at how we can ensure children have the access they need to the teaching in those subjects.”
Sarah Champion MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities and one of the leading campaigners for SRE, said it is a “significant shift” that Downing Street now backs the plans.
Under the Government plans it will be compulsory to teach SRE in primary and secondary schools, although parents would be able opt their children out of classes.
A Westminster source told The Daily Telegraph that the Government plans include provisions to ensure that “all education will need to be appropriate to age and religious background of pupils”.
It comes after a group of MPs, including five former ministers, backed a change to the law that would see SRE made a compulsory in the National Curriculum.
The change would see teenagers being what consent means in sexual relationships and how to protect themselves from sexting and online exploitation in compulsory classes. Currently only council-controlled secondary schools are required to teach children about sex in biology classes.
There is no such requirement on academies or free schools which make up the majority of secondary schools in England.
Ministers have faced mounting pressure from across the political spectrum to bring about the change following concerns children are being left ill-equipped to cope with the new realities of online porn, cyber bullying and sexting