Two-thirds of primary teachers believe sex education should be compulsory for pupils in their schools, and many of those recommend it for children aged seven.
A TES survey of almost 2,000 teachers in England showed three-quarters of them want compulsory sex and relationships lessons. More than 60 per cent in primaries, but only 35 per cent in secondaries, felt it should start in Year 5 or 6. A quarter of primary staff would like lessons to begin in Y3.
The survey results come as the Westminster government this week launched a review group to investigate sex education, a vital part of its drive to make pupils lead healthier lives. At present, sex education is only statutory as part of the science curriculum for 11 to 14-year-olds.
Calls have been made in Wales for a law making sex and relationship education compulsory for primaries, a move not welcomed by heads contactd by TES Cymru.
Our survey was carried out to launch a TES series, called The Big Five, examining the ambitious outcomes for children that schools are expected to meet: these are for young people to be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution in life and reach economic wellbeing.
These aims were first introduced five years ago as part of the Government's Every Child Matters policy, and form the basis of the next decade `s Children's Plan.
In many schools, the focus in sex education is on biological functions rather than relationships, contraception and sexual diseases.
Our survey found that almost half of the teachers had been asked to teach sex education on occasion - but three-quarters of those had been given no training.
Sex in its true colours, page 31
Lessons in bonding, page 25.