Sex education must be protected if the Government pushes forward with plans to force schools to become academies, MPs have urged.
There are fears the proposed academisation of schools in England and Wales could see the subject dropped from the curriculum.
Currently the Government says all maintained secondary schools are obliged to teach sex and relationship education, while academies and free schools are “expected to” to teach it as part of the curriculum.
During a Westminster Hall debate about the regional variations in teenage pregnancy rates, Labour’s Sharon Hodgson said: “The lack of sex and relationship education in our schools is now becoming a ticking time-bomb which the Government must address.
“Especially with their impending forced academisation of all schools which will bring in to question the whole survival of sex and relationship education in any form in our schools.”
The Washington and Sunderland West MP said: “It’s got to be good quality sex and relationship education, rather than just ticking some boxes.”
The SNP’s Alison Thewliss added: “House of Commons library researchers mentioned in relation to England that it’s unclear at the moment what obligation there will be for schools in England to provide sexual health and relationship education should the Government’s full academisation plans go through.
“We in the SNP see the value in this and would urge the UK Government to clarify whether or not new academies will have an obligation to provide sex education in schools because we feel it would be utterly unacceptable for schools to offer no sex education whatsoever.”
Education Minister Edward Timpson said personal, social and health education (PSHE) can help children to make “better decisions”.
He said: “There are various risk factors associated with increased teenage pregnancy rates including educational under achievement.
“Where schools can help more children to make better decisions in their personal lives is through high quality teaching of PSHE.”