A total of 8196 young girls became pregnant, ensuring Britain continues to have highest teenage rate in Western Europe.
The rate among girls under 18s also rose-the first increase in six years.
Britain is almost unique in Europe in its attitude sex-it's a mixture of Victorian prudery and behind-your-hand sniggering, said sex health charity Marie Stopes International.
The government has set a target to halve the 1998 teen pregnancy rate.
It said long term trend in young pregnancies was downward and there had been a 10.7% drop in conception in under 18s and a 23% decline in teenage birth since 1998. But the target looks increasingly optimistic and yesterday children's minister Beverley Hughes admitted the figures were dissappointing.
The evidence suggests that more teenagers may have been engaging in risky behaviour and not using contraception, resulting in an increase in conceptions leading to abortion, she said. Our strategy is to encourage teenage to delay early sexual activity-but to use contraception when they do become sexually active.
Sex and relationship education would be made compulsory, she added.
But shadow health spokesman Andrew Lansley said;'reducing teenage pregnancy requires more than teaching children about sex. It requires a supportive and responsible family'.
By Fred Attewill Metro 27/02/2009