Schoolchildren as young as 11 are set to be taught about female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of the biggest shake-up to sex education in 20 years.
Secondary school pupils will taught about the support networks available for those at risk of FGM, as well as being reminded that it is illegal.
Students will also learn about other forms of so-called honour-based abuse, as well as grooming, forced marriage and domestic abuse as part of a strengthened curriculum, the Department for Education said.
Students are set to learn about FGM as part of the biggest shake-ups to sex education in 20 years (Picture: PA)However, some have said the lessons may come too late, as girls who are most at risk of FGM are primary-school age.
Leethan Bartholomew, from children’s charity Barnardo’s, said: ‘This announcement is welcomed by the National FGM Centre, as it will give a certain group of children the opportunity to be made aware of this hidden form of child abuse.
Man who wrongly spent 39 years in jail for murder wins $21,000,000 payout‘However, it must be acknowledged that most girls are cut at an age when they will be attending primary school. Therefore conversations about FGM should take place at a younger age.’
Teachers at secondary school will have to take lessons on online safety topics, including the serious risks of sharing private photos and sexting.
For some classes, lessons will focus on the importance of getting enough sleep and the link between physical and mental health.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said it was ‘appropriate’ to make health education universal alongside relationships and sex education (Picture: Reuters)The educational overhaul will also apply to primary schools, and children as young as four will be taught how to keep safe on the internet and how to look after their mental health.
Youngsters will also receive lessons in online safety, such as what to do when they come across something they find uncomfortable, trolling, and chatting to strangers.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: ‘Growing up and adolescence are hard enough, but the internet and social media add new pressures that just weren’t there even one generation ago.
‘So many things about the way people interact have changed, and this new world, seamless between online and offline, can be difficult to navigate.’
Mr Hinds added it was ‘appropriate’ to make health education universal alongside relationships and sex education.
He said: ‘It will help children learn how to look after themselves, physically and mentally, and the importance of getting away from the screen and the headphones.’
The announcement follows intense pressure for action in safeguarding vulnerable people, highlighted by the case of 14-year-old Molly Russell who killed herself in 2017.
Her family found material relating to depression and suicide when they looked at her Instagram account after her death.