Children as young as seven will learn about drugs such as cocaine, Ecstasy and heroin under plans to reform sex and drugs education.
Lessons will begin at a younger age than currently despite fears they will spark an interest in experimenting where none previously existed.
Pupils aged five will learn to label body parts and how to keep safe from syringes under the shake-up, which is designed to tackle soaring levels of drug abuse and teen pregnancies.
The plans, which are being outlined today by Schools Secretary Ed Balls, will involve more lurid topics being introduced gradually.
From the age of seven, pupils will begin to learn about the dangers of cannabis and of Class A drugs such as cocaine, Ecstasy and heroin.
Ministers believe sex education is currently too 'patchy' and that schools should be obliged to deliver it, although they are expected to open a consultation on whether parents or individual schools should be able to opt out.
They are also expected to say that children of all ages should be entitled to drugs and alcohol education.
Currently most are thought to learn about illegal drugs and their harmful effects towards the end of their primary school years, with most drugs education concentrated on 11 to 16-year-olds.
But fears are growing that primary school pupils are increasingly aware of illicit drugs and in some cases are targeted by pushers.
The overhaul will pave the way for greater use of controversial teaching materials in primary schools such as Drugs Centre Stage.
This caused a furore two years ago after it emerged that pupils of nine were being encouraged to pretend to take and deal illicit drugs such as LSD and Ecstasy in role-play scenarios. The lesson packs also introduced pupils to drugs jargon such as 'fix', 'spliff' and 'hyping up'.
One character in a story says to her friend: 'I had an E a couple of weeks back. It really hypes you up and it didn't do me any harm.'
The Mail told last week how plans to impose compulsory sex education on primary schools could fuel demand for teaching booklets such as Let's Grow With Nisha And Joe, which invites six-year-olds to label the penis and vagina.
Ministers are expected to accept many of the recommendations of two expert working groups on sex and drugs education.
The overhaul follows an admission by Gordon Brown shortly before he became Prime Minister last year that the state of drugs education is 'pretty poor'.
'We are going to have to do more to provide drug education in our schools and you are going to have to start in the primary schools as well as the secondary schools,' he said.
A commission on drugs set up by the RSA charity concluded last year that drugs education should begin in the early years of primary school.
It said growing numbers of under-12s were being treated for substance abuse, mostly for alcohol and cannabis but also for cocaine, heroin and crack addictions.
However, it also acknowledged the limitations of formal drugs education, declaring that it 'apparently does not discourage people who either are undecided about whether to take drugs or are strongly inclined to experiment'.
It went on: 'In the worst cases, drugs education may even encourage drug use.'
The health education charity Life Education, which contributed to the Government's drugs and alcohol review, said it had found that children as young as seven and eight are learning about drugs.
By Laura Clark
Last updated at 1:50 AM on 23rd October 2008
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