Sun exposure in childhood and adolescence greatly increases the chances of developing skin cancer later in life. Students are in school when daily ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels are at their peak, meaning schools are uniquely placed to educate about sun protection behaviour, minimise UV exposure and ultimately reduce a student's lifetime risk of skin cancer. The nationally recognised SunSmart Schools program supports schools in creating sun safe environments and promoting sun protection behaviours to students, staff and families.
To learn more click on the headings below:
- What is a SunSmart School?
- Why become a SunSmart School?
- Why join the program rather than go it alone?
- Developing a SunSmart School policy
- Become a SunSmart School or renew your membership
- Check your UV index here
What is a SunSmart School?
SunSmart Schools recognise that UV levels peak in the middle of the day and that as the UV Index rises, the associated risk of skin damage also increases. A SunSmart School has a sun protection policy and practices in place that aim to reduce over-exposure to UV. Cancer Council WA recommends implementing a sun protection policy when the UV levels are 3 or above.
The criteria to join the SunSmart Schools program are:
1. Most or all students wear sun protective hats (not peaked caps) year round, or when the UV Index is 3 and above. It is a requirement that hats are worn during term 2 and 3 when the UV is over 3.
2. Sunscreen is available throughout the school and its use encouraged.
3. Outdoor events are rescheduled to avoid peak UV times when possible.
4. Sun protection is encouraged through teacher and parent role modelling and classroom activities.
5. The school uniform/dress code includes sun protective items (e.g. shirts with collars, longer sleeves).
6. The school has a sun protection policy.
Schools, in partnership with families and their community, have an important role in reducing sun exposure because:
- Schools have a duty of care to protect students and staff from harm. A sun protection policy can assist schools to meet this obligation.
- The crucial period for sustaining damage from sun exposure occurs during the school years.
- Children are at school during peak UV radiation times.
- Schools can influence sun protection behaviours through education.
- Sun protection policies can be included in existing health policies.
The SunSmart Schools program is free to join. If your school becomes a SunSmart School, Cancer Council WA provides you with the following support:
- a metal SunSmart sign
- free curriculum and supporting classroom resources
- information on sun protection for parents and school staff
- advice on health promotion strategies including policy development
- regular updates on sun protection best practice
- SunSmart talks to parents, staff and students
- a 20% discount at the Cancer Council Shop in Subiaco
- Peace of mind - Cancer Council endorsement of your policy and procedures lets you know you have it right.
- Comprehensiveness - have you thought of everything? There is much more to sun protection than a No Hat No Play rule.
- Current information - access accurate, current information on sun protection issues such as sunscreen allergies, nanoparticles, vitamin D, occupational safety and health and duty of care.
- Support - you get information about how other schools have dealt with particular problems, free teaching resources, access to competitions and discounts on sun protection items at the Cancer Council shop.
- Advocacy - Cancer Council speakers can talk to parents and staff about the risk of skin cancer and the value of good sun protection policies and procedures.
- Critical mass - formally joining the program allows Cancer Council to count your school in the program membership. In turn, this helps convince other schools to join the program and demonstrates your commitment to reducing the burden of skin cancer in the community.
Each school is responsible for developing, putting into action and regularly reviewing its own sun protection policy. The SunSmart Schools Program has example policies and templates to help you (see 'Apply to become a SunSmart school or renew your membership' below).
A sun protection policy should address:
- Why the sun protection policy is important for your school.
- What effect the sun protection measures will have on your school's curriculum, environment and behaviour.
- How and when the policy will be put into action and reviewed.
- How the impact of the policy will be determined (evaluation).
For more information contact the SunSmart Education Program Coordinator on (08) 9388 4351 or email email@example.com
Becoming a SunSmart School is easy, simply:
- Review the Sun protection best practice guidelines for WA schools (pdf, 184kb)
- Develop a sun protection policy or update the existing one. A SunSmart Schools sample policy (word, 66kb) is available to download.
- Fill out the application form online or print the SunSmart Schools application form (pdf, 270kb). For information on details we collect, please see our Privacy Collection Statement (pdf, 51kb).
- Submit all paperwork to:
SunSmart Education Coordinator
Cancer Council WA
Level 1, 420 Bagot Rd
SUBIACO WA 6008
Cancer Council WA requires SunSmart Schools to review their sun protection policy every three years to maintain their SunSmart membership.