Thursday 12 April 2012

Charity Aims To Reduce Child Sunburn At Schools In England

I think this is definitely  an issue that needs clearly defining for everyone. In our infants school, kids are not allowed to go outside to play at all if they haven't got a long sleeved top and a sunhat, but the teachers aren't allowed to apply suncream, even if you give it to them, so you have to put it on before they go to school. That's fine if they come home for lunch but not if they eat at the canteen.


A leading health charity has launched a petition to stop children being sunburnt whilst at school.

The British Skin Foundation (BSF), a national charity that raises money for skin disease and skin cancer research, is aiming to get 100,000 signatures to have the issue of sun safety in schools debated in the House of Commons.

Nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools in England currently have no standardised policies in terms of the responsibility of sunscreen re-application amongst staff, pupils and parents. As it stands, each school or local education authority decides for themselves on an ad-hoc basis what they want to action - if anything - with regards to sunscreen re-application on children during school hours. In rare instances, schools have even banned sunscreen in schools, for fear of allergic reactions to the product.

The BSF is keen for the government to clarify the parameters of responsibility, so there is no confusion between parents, schools and local authorities as to which body is responsible for what aspect of a child’s sun safety during school hours. The decision to launch the online petition came as a result of an annual influx of phone calls to the charity in recent years from concerned parents, eager for advice on the best way to protect their children whilst they’re at school.

The issue with children’s sun safety in schools has previously been raised in the House of Commons as recently as 2009. What’s more, a previous survey of 1,000 parents commissioned by MPs on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Skin (APPGS), found almost 40% of pupils have suffered sunburn while at school. It is believed that about 80% of damage to the skin caused by over exposure to the sun is achieved by the age of 20, and with two new cases of skin cancer diagnosed every day in the UK amongst 15 to 34-year-olds, the issue of skin cancer amongst the young is a growing problem.
Sian James MP, chair of the Melanoma Taskforce, feels strongly about the issue and the need for better clarification. She says: “There can be no hesitation in providing the appropriate guidelines to protect children and I see sun safety protection as being essential. We need clear and specific advice that schools in England can follow so that any element of ‘confusion’ is removed.”

Chief Executive of the British Skin Foundation, Matthew Patey says “Our biggest aim with the petition is to stop children from burning. With confusion surrounding who is responsible for making sure children are protected during school hours, and how much the school is allowed to get involved, it’s understandable that parents are concerned, especially when you consider how much time pupils spend outdoors during breaks and lunchtime.

“We are not advocating sunscreen as the sole means of sun protection, but as an additional method of protecting the skin from burning - the first line of defence is always clothing. When responsible parents dress their child appropriately for the sunny weather and apply sunscreen, they are still faced with the conundrum of re-application later on in the day. With younger children especially, this will require adult supervision in the likely form of a teacher or school nurse. Until this issue is resolved, children will continue being hurt unnecessarily, so we’re hoping this petition will mark a starting point for change.”


To sign the petition and get this issue raised at the House of Commons, visit:


  1. Is this not just another step to far?? another case of not letting kids be kids? And Im sure if you have a class of 25 kids you have to apply sunscreen to then your lunch break is over before it starts.

  2. French lunch break is two hours - I personally wouldn't let my kids outside to play from 12-2pm - the hottest part of the day - with no sun protection. It only takes me a couple of minutes to put sun cream on my three for a trip to the park - it's only faces and arms that need covering - so even for a class of 30, with the help of a class assistant, that's only going to take about the same amount of time as the obligatory trip to the toilet before they're let loose. It's mainly for the kids that eat at the canteen - those who go home to lunch can reaply it at home - but it's silly for the school to not be allowed to use it if you give it to them.

  3. I always put suncream on my kids before school but they have to put there own on at lunchtime. I wish that teachers were allowed to help them apply it. I dont trust my son to do it properly and letting him get burnt is a real worry.

  4. at my sons nursery they put sun cream on the children but they aren't allowed to share sun cream so if a child doesn't have any then they cant go outside. i hope the primary my son will go to will be of similar rules

  5. I always put suncream on my little girl before she goes to school in the morning and she always takes a sun hat. My concern is that by the time lunchtime comes around at 12.15 the suntan lotion has been rubbed off during school activities and / or is no longer effective, and especially more so for afternoon break. They are also not allowed to take sun cream into school to apply themselves and I think this is absolutely ridiculous! The school said it wasn't fair on those children who's parents either couldn't / wouldn't supply their children with suncream as they would feel left out! Well, I'm sorry but I don't see why my child should risk sunburn because another parent can't be bothered!

  6. That does seem a bit of a silly way to justify the rule !


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