By Daily Mail Reporter
Girls as young as 11 are to be offered pregnancy tests at school.
They will also have access to contraception, the morning-after pill and advice on sexually transmitted infections.
All of the services will be confidential – meaning the teenagers’ parents might never be told. The scheme is being piloted in sexual health drop-in clinics set up in state secondary schools in Wirral and Liverpool, an area with above-average rates of teenage pregnancy.
It is part of a Government strategy which could see sexual health clinics opening in every secondary school and college in England.
The pupils will be encouraged to tell their parents of their visits to the clinics, although their consent is not required.
Health chiefs have written to parents saying they are not obliged to inform them if their daughter has a pregnancy test or is prescribed the morning-after pill.
They claim that the moves will help cut the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions among teenagers, many of whom will be under 16 – the legal age of consent.
But critics say the move will encourage under-age sex and promiscuity. Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, which researches the causes of family breakdown, said: ‘Sexual health clinics on school premises send out the message that it is normal for schoolchildren to engage in sexual activity.
‘In the past, natural inhibitions combined with fear of pregnancy, legal proceedings and being found out by parents offered a powerful disincentive to under-age sex.
‘Confidential health clinics in schools are part of a mix that is removing the restraints which previously limited under-age sexual activity.’
Dr Adrian Rogers, a GP and founder of the Family Focus campaign, said: ‘There is already free, confidential testing and advice available at every GP’s surgery and family planning clinic.
‘Offering this kind of service in the school setting is going to promote promiscuity. It is a complete waste of time and money and will prove counter-productive.’
The scheme is the latest Government attempt to curb Britain’s teen pregnancy rate – the highest in Europe. The strategy, which has cost taxpayers more than £300million, was meant to halve the number of conceptions among girls in England between 1998 and 2010.
But the rate rose in 2007 and teen pregnancy rates are now higher than they were in 1995.
In Liverpool, 51 in every 1000 girls aged 15 to 17 are falling pregnant, compared with the national average of 41.7.
The sexual health clinics have been operating in 13 of Wirral’s 29 secondary schools for several months, while the scheme is expected to be tested in five other comprehensives in neighbouring Liverpool later this year.