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League tables set for contraceptive role

Boys must not be forgotten in the drive to cut the number of schoolgirl pregnancies, the Family Planning Association said this week.

In response to ministers' proposal to use school league tables to identify girls most at risk of becoming pregnant, the FPA also called for sex education to be improved.

Frank Field, social security minister, said that as part of his review of welfare he wants to help prevent young people becoming dependent on benefits: "We need to identify those children who are not achieving at an early age. We know from studies like the National Child Development Study that girls who do not achieve after the age of 11 are most likely to become parents in their teens and end up on long-term dependency.

"There must be equal concern about the failure rate among young males who in the modern world face long-term unemployment if they fail to acquire the minimum standards at school."

He plans to meet education minister Stephen Byers to discuss ways of reducing the numbers of teenage and single mothers. Mr Field said he had been impressed by a Bristol scheme which invited young mothers into schools to tell teenagers about bringing up a child alone.

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