THE Australian curriculum authority says it has listened to feedback from parenting and school groups, and will introduce sex education to children in grades 5 and 6, not in grade 3 and 4, as earlier recommended.
An earlier draft of the sex education program for Australian schools recommended children begin being taught sexual education in grades 3 and 4, including children as young as seven.
The Age incorrectly reported today that the draft national curriculum continued to include that recommendation.
Yesterday Robert Randall, acting chief executive of the body in charge of shaping the curriculum, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, said many young people were already experiencing puberty by grade 3.
But, he said, the authority had taken feedback from parenting groups into account and had re-drafted its proposed national curriculum from an earlier draft.
As part of the new national curriculum being developed and rolled out across Australian schools, sexual education will become standardised into a health and physical education stream.
The curriculum is still being developed, and will be released for public consultation in February.
Yesterday, Liberal Senator Brett Mason expressed alarm at the earlier proposals, questioning whether children in grades 3 and 4 should be taught about sexual health.
‘‘There’s quite a few people who find that just a bit young,’’ Senator Mason said.
‘‘I can understand why some parents would find that slightly ... premature.’’
However, the revised guidelines say grades 3 and 4 will still ‘‘develop and apply the knowledge, understanding and skills to manage the physical, emotional and social changes they begin to experience during this stage of life’’.
By grades 5 and 6 children will be taught in greater detail about the emotional, physical and hormonal changes associated with puberty.
‘‘Most students will be experiencing the physical, emotional and social changes associated with the start of puberty during these years,’’ the revised guidelines state. ‘‘Students learn about these different changes and the associated transition into adulthood and investigate positive ways to manage the transition.’’
Senator Mason said he was not a parent, but still questioned whether it was appropriate to be taught about ‘‘sexual feelings’’ by years 7 and 8.
Mr Randall told the hearing it was appropriate children be given information and support to help them understand what they were going through.
He said children were already taught differing forms of sexual education in New South Wales from grades 3 and 4, and in Victoria from grades 5 and 6.