Britain is bracing itself for compulsory sex education in schools. It will start with body parts for four-year-olds, sex when nine and homosexuality two years later.
Personal, social and health education classes are set to become compulsory in primary and secondary from September 2011, pending a formal consultation.
Under the radical plan proposed, at Key Stage Three (ages 11 to 14), pupils will learn about contraception, pregnancy, sexual activity and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.
Schools will also have to teach about 'different types of relationships, including those within families and between older and young people, boys and girls and people of the same sex, including civil partnerships'.
At Key Stage Four (ages 14-16), they will continue to learn about contraception, sexually transmitted diseases and same sex relationships.
Guidance which is set to become statutory states: 'Students should address the role and benefits of marriage and civil partnerships in stable relationships and family life.'
Previously, headteachers could decide to opt out of teaching the controversial subject.
Under current rules, schoolchildren must be taught the biological facts of reproduction, which usually happens in science classes.
Every school must have a sex education policy, but there is no statutory requirement for teaching about relationships and the social and emotional side of sexual behaviour.
The Government backed the move to a PSHE statutory curriculum last October and asked Sir Alasdair Macdonald, head of Morpeth School, Tower Hamlets, East London, to report back on its implementation.
Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) is an element of the state school curriculum in England & Northern Ireland . The subject covers statutory elements, such as drugs and relationships (sex) and many other aspects of health and personal growth. It is perhaps the teaching style and relationship that can worry teachers because this is not a subject where the knowledge and answers are to be found in a text book. The subject is the student and there are no right or wrong answers. Teachers, are however charged with guiding students and working through speaking and listening.
Alan Macdonald's independent review of PSHE, though, has recommended allowing parents to retain the right to withdraw their children from sex education classes.
Governing bodies will also be able to tailor the statutory curriculum around their ethos, for example Catholic faith schools could teach about contraception but say that its use runs contrary to their religious beliefs.
In addition, the current non-statutory framework for the subject should form the 'core curriculum', he stated.
Schools Secretary Ed Balls yesterday said he would legislate to put the recommendations into effect, subject to a four-month consultation. However, he will keep the right of parental withdrawal under review.
He said: 'Compulsory PSHE will mean consistency and quality, so all children can benefit.'
The shake-up has sparked a furious row, with family and faith groups condemning the new guidance as 'illiberal'.
Norman Wells, of the Family Education Trust, said: 'There are grounds for concern that making PSHE a statutory part of the national curriculum could be used as a vehicle to promote positive images of homosexual relationships in the classroom.
'It is difficult to see how teaching children as young as 11 about same-sex relationships and civil partnerships fits in with a study of personal wellbeing, and many parents will be very concerned about the prospect of such lessons being imposed over their heads.'
A spokesman for the Church of England said that church schools will explore a range of views on the topics covered in sex education classes.
He added: 'These discussions will be set firmly within the framework of Christian teaching about human relationships, which stresses the importance of a faithful marriage as the best framework for sex.'