Sex education will be easier to make compulsory in primary schools if it is given the title "relationships education," according to a member of a new inquiry examining the subject.
Hazel Pulley, head of Caldecote Community Primary in Leicester, is to be the voice of primary schools on the inquiry's 25-strong steering group announced this week by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
It will examine ways to ensure young people gain good sex and relationships education, no matter what school they attend. This will include sharing examples of good teaching and exploring how schools can work better with outside professionals and parents.
Caldecote Primary has been teaching relationships education for several years as part of social and emotional aspects of learning (Seal).
Mrs Pulley said she supported making sex education compulsory in primary schools and that by referring to it as relationships education it would be easier to win the support of parents, particularly members of faith groups.
"There is so much discussion about sex on TV and in the press that children are thinking about it at a younger age now," she said. "You can start by teaching about relationships, the morality of how you treat people and respect them. You only need to go into the mechanics later, when you think it is appropriate for those pupils."
Also on the panel is 16-year-old Joshua McTaggart, a member of the UK Youth Parliament and a pupil at Backwell School in North Somerset. "There's a misconception that sex education encourages young people to have sex, which is like saying road safety encourages them to have car accidents," he said.
TES special report, pages 17-20.