Develop a sun safety policy

This should clearly set out the school’s position on the use of protective clothing and on sunscreen as well as information about measures that are being undertaken to protect pupils and staff from exposure to sun. This policy should be sent to all parents so that it is widely known and the importance of sun protection is reinforced to parents.

The use of protective clothing

Parents should be encouraged to provide children with suitable long-sleeved clothing and wide-brimmed hats. Schools’ clothing policies should be amended where necessary to allow this, including changing PE uniforms from vests to T-shirts to ensure that shoulders are covered.

The use of sunscreens

The use of sunscreens is an effective way of preventing sunburn. The NHS recommends the use of a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or above and at least 4-star UVA (ultraviolet A) protection.

The sun safety policy should promote the self-administration of sunscreen by pupils. Most children, apart from the very youngest and those with special needs, will be able to do so under supervision. Parents should be asked to provide suitable sunscreen for their children, which should be labelled with the pupil’s name. Schools may wish to consider keeping additional sunscreen on site for pupils who forget theirs.

The policy should recognise that teachers cannot be required to apply sunscreen to pupils. The NEU advises teachers not to apply sunscreen to pupils due to the potential for allegations of abuse and, in particular, the time it would take to apply sunscreen to a class of pupils prior to break time or lunch time.

The policy should, however, address the potential for allegations of abuse being made against teachers and other staff who have agreed to apply sunscreen. If schools decide to allow staff to apply sunscreen to pupils, parental consent should be obtained. Teachers and other staff who do wish to do so should only apply the sunscreen to the face, neck and arms of pupils.

Development of shady areas

In the medium- to long-term, schools may wish to consider ways of providing more shade in the playground, either by planting trees or providing shelters. In the shorter term, outdoor seats and equipment can be moved to shady areas.

Timetabling

Consideration may be given to extending the morning break and shortening the lunch break during the summer term to minimise the time spent outside when the sun is hottest.

Sports days

If possible, sports days should be held in early morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday sun. Shady areas should be chosen for activities where available, and consideration can be given to temporary shade structures such as canopies. Parents and pupils should be encouraged to wear suitable hats, T-shirts and sunglasses, and to regularly apply sunscreen and drink lots of water.

Sun safety in lessons

Sun protection and the dangers of sunbed use can be incorporated into the curriculum, and promoted to pupils during the school year, for instance, in assemblies prior to the end of the summer term.

Protecting school staff

Teachers should not neglect to protect their own skin from the effects of the sun. PE teachers and those supervising outdoor excursions should take particular care.

School environment
Sun safety

How schools can help protect pupils from sun exposure and advice around sunscreen.