Pupils in primary one will be taught the proper names for body parts including male and female genitalia and begin to learn about reproduction from as early as primary two.

The Sexual Health and Relationships curriculum was developed by the local authority to combat what it describes as a “shambolic” approach to sex education that currently sees individual schools devising their own programmes.

“When we started this five years ago, my shelf here was full of advice from central government and Holyrood on how this stuff should be dealt with,” said councillor James Coleman, deputy leader of Glasgow City Council.

“But when you looked behind it, there was absolutely nothing there. No substance. And if you look at the country, there’s still no substance. It’s just soundbites. It was a shambles.”

The new curriculum – five years in the making and prepared following in-depth consultation with parents – aims to give pupils an all-round understanding of matters relating to sex and relationships. It will run from primary one to sixth year in secondary.

Following the success of pilot schemes in Glasgow East during the past two years, moves are under way to roll out the scheme across the city’s non-denominational schools by 2011.

The early primary years will see children tackle familiar topics such as “stranger danger” and bullying, such as understanding life cycles, human anatomy, and the “ups and downs” of family life.

Older children will look at making friendships work, staying safe online, and gender inequality.

From primary six, the physical and emotional changes associated with puberty will be up for discussion – and the traditional boy-girl split abandoned.

“There was apprehension about mixed classes to begin with,” said Michelle Kay, who helped write the curriculum as well as trial one of the first pilots at Swinton Primary, where she is now acting headteacher.

“It was great to see the maturity. I think we often sell the boys short, and say the girls need to have privacy to ask questions without the boys giggling. It actually doesn’t happen.”

A common source of anxiety for many parents was that naming sexual organs represented a “loss of innocence”, but Ms Kay said these were quickly resolved when parents saw it as one component of a much wider lesson.

She said: “These are our fears. Pupils are taught all the body parts, not just the genitalia. To a five-year-old, it’s not awkward or embarrassing.”

In secondary school, pupils will go on to discuss the “effects of being attracted to someone”, as well as contraception and sexually-transmitted diseases in S3.

Anne Hood, deputy headteacher at Lochend Community High, said pupils found the lessons “refreshing”.

“They were given facts, and then they were encouraged to discuss things very openly. It was very open and interactive, and they liked that,” she said.

Senior pupils will learn how to access sexual health services, as well look at the global issues associated with HIV/AIDS and analyse images of beauty and sexuality.

“The main thing is to bring the whole topic of sex and relationships out into the open,” said Mr Coleman. “Now, because we’ve gone into this in detail, the benefits are that this is out in the open: parents are comfortable discussing it with their children, the teachers are quite at ease discussing it in a measured manner with pupils. It’s broken the ice, if you like.”

In the long-term, the council hopes to see benefits in the form of reduced rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, as well as a healthier attitude to relationships generally.

“It’s not just educating people about sex; it’s about respect, self-esteem, all the things that are crucial to making sure that no-one, young girls especially, feels pressurised to have early sex.”

A “positive dialogue” is also underway with the Archdiocese of Glasgow to discuss implementing the curriculum in the city’s Catholic schools.

Alison Carter, whose daughter Ashleigh, now 11, was one of the first to sample the new curriculum as a primary five pupil at Garrowhill Primary, said the lessons had improved communication at home as well. “It really was quite liberating for the two of us,” she said.

Alison believes it will also help with discussing sexual health issues in future.

“Definitely. If I know she’s doing that at primary school, or secondary school, then I’m going to feel more comfortable broaching it.”