School banning suncream, am I unreasonable to query this?

(92 Posts)
sydenhamhiller Mon 16-Jun-14 10:04:59

Sorry, loooooooong grin

DC 1 and 2's primary sends home a weekly newsletter. Friday's states: children are not allowed to bring suncream into school. As it happens, last week the news had been about skin cancer on the increase, so I approached the HT and asked about the ban.

The HT's response was: "Well, the children were just messing around with sun cream all the time, it makes such a mess and takes up so much time - you can just get that 8 hour stuff you know." I was slightly taken aback (surely suncream is in their bags, in the cloakroom?), but just said "well, it's been all over the news about the rise in skin cancer in the UK, and they do recommend frequent application of sun cream. DC1 does after school sports 2x a week after school, and he has caught the sun a few times- it is a long time from the first application at 8.30 to 4.30."

HT's response was: "well, I suppose we could look into some kind of arrangement, maybe he could store it at the school office...."

Now to be honest, I know I am being unreasonable: DC1 hates applying sun cream, and never remembers to put it on if someone does not nag. But that's not the point, is it? Australian primary school teachers manage this issue. With skin cancer on the increase, and sun damage irreversible, I just don't think banning sun cream is the right policy decision. I've never queried anything before (DC are Y5 and Y3, but as a friend had skin cancer 15 years ago in her 20s, I feel strongly about this.)

I realise some people might tell me to get a grip; DH is rolling his eyes at me! I just wondered whether any of you lovely Mumsnetters can share your UK (or even English) primary schools' sun cream/ hats/ protection policies with me?

Seeline Mon 16-Jun-14 10:09:27

Our primary always reminds about sun cream, but according to my DD they are not allowed to put it on at school because of others allergies. I appreciate the allergy thing as both my DS and I have bad reactions to certain creams, but it means that we are unable to wear the 8 hour creams so need frequent applications.
I agree - most children are perfectly capable of applying cream sensibly and should be allowed to do so at school. I am sure this could be done with minimal supervision and be built in to the school day - even if play/lunch were a few minutes shorter.

weebarra Mon 16-Jun-14 10:09:54

In Scotland here. They ask that you apply cream before the start of the school day and that the DCs have hats.

AuntieUrsula Mon 16-Jun-14 10:14:40

My DCs' school specifically asks parents to send the kids in with suncream in sunny weather. Not convinced they ever actually apply it though!

Enb76 Mon 16-Jun-14 10:15:09

There's a no sunscreen rule at the primary my child goes to. They're not outside for hours and not going in water so if it's possible to use the 8 hour stuff then I don't see the problem. All ours have to wear hats too if they want to play outside in sunny weather.

I can see the reasoning, the teachers are not allowed to apply the sunscreen to the children (I guess this is a child protection thing) so each child would have to do it themselves. They would need to be reminded, they would need to be able to put it on themselves, they would need to each be responsible and not play with it, they would need to not daydream in order to get any break etc... I think this is a lot to ask, especially of 4 and 5 year olds.

Gileswithachainsaw Mon 16-Jun-14 10:18:08

And what about kids allergic to the 8 hour stuff?

I've always sent dd in with hers in her bag even when (in reception) they weren't supposed to have it.

They are now though.

I'd definately query it because not everyone can have the all day stuff and some kids are more sensitive to the sun than others

I'm a teacher in Scotland. We get everyone from primary 1 upwards to apply their own suncream in class together before they go to lunch every day. Just as in winter, we make sure everyone is properly wrapped up and cosy.
I have a box with everyone 's named bottles from home. The children don't get a chance to muck about with it. They line up, collect their cream, for the little ones, I squeeze some into their hands and then we all apply together. This way I'm sure no one has forgotten necks. They then wash their hands for lunch.
It takes 5-10 minutes but what price for keeping their skin safe.

Bramshott Mon 16-Jun-14 10:25:23

We've never done the 8-hour stuff - just an application before school. I reckon that most of their outdoors-type activities are over before 1pm... I'm not sure sun cream is actually "banned" but we are encouraged to put it on them before school and send a hat.

It sounds to me as thought its the after school sports which are the problem for your DC1. Could you send it with him just on those 2 days and ask that he puts it on before the club?

We just had to sign a letter at DD's school saying that the teachers could apply sun screen to the Kindergarten pupils who can't do it properly themselves. Older children manage themselves (6 years plus). But the younger pupils do spend most of their time outdoors so it makes sense to have a more sensible policy.

TeenAndTween Mon 16-Jun-14 10:42:09

At our school sunscreen is permitted but they have to apply it themselves.

When DD2 was in reception and DD1 in y6 I had to send in written permission for DD1 to apply sunscreen to DD2!

8 hour stuff no good for either DDs makes them both itch.

noramum Mon 16-Jun-14 10:45:49

We had to search a lot to find one 8 hour cream which works for DD. The alternative for DD would have been to have the cream in the office and go before playtime or outside PE and apply herself.

She can do it, in holiday clubs she does it as well as long as it is a spray. But I very much doubt she would remember to do this.

In order to keep her safe I spend a fortune on suncream. I must admit, 30 children with 30 bottles of suncream is a disaster waiting to happen, especially in KS 1 age groups.

sanfairyanne Mon 16-Jun-14 10:45:59

as Bramshott says, this is really a problem because of the afterschool clubs. how about a 'stick' that is easy to apply on noses/cheekbones for after school, plus an all day cream in the morning
as you know, the reports this week have been about the ineffectiveness of suncream, so really a hat and long sleeves are the answer

lljkk Mon 16-Jun-14 10:46:42

Rise in skin cancer now will be down to exposure that people had 20-30-40+ yrs ago when I imagine virtually no British child ever went to school with cream on, but as adults they then went onto EasyJet sun breaks where sporting a sunburn was as trendy as a tan.

Or Did you all go to school with lots of cream on? I was a blonde child in 1970s southern California & I doubt I wore any to school. We had loads of sun safety talks, but not seen as huge risk in brief outdoor times on school premises.

I don't know what our current school policy is. We were asked to send in cream & hats for the yr1s. 6yo DS refuses the hat & I keep forgetting the cream. Just back from very sunny Arizona last month so I can't take British sun very seriously right now.

GobblersKnob Mon 16-Jun-14 10:52:22

I put normal suncream on mine in the morning then they both have a little face stick thing from boots that I tell them to do their noses, cheeks and forearms with. My small one is not supposed to have suncream but she is pale and covered in moles, my gp was more than happy to write a letter saying it was imperative that she can apply suncream before going out at lunch, the stick means there is no mess.

beccajoh Mon 16-Jun-14 10:53:07

8-hour sun cream is UP to 8 hours, but it's still recommended you reapply every 2 hours, although that's probably only necessary if you're out in it all day.

Why are schools so effing useless about this sort of thing. Applying sun cream to a child isn't paedophilia, although I can see why 30 small children needing sun cream is a problem. Simple solution would be to provide cover over play equipment. It's standard in hot countries. Kids could play out in the rain as well.

beccajoh Mon 16-Jun-14 10:54:40

Lljkk, I'm currently being treated for skin cancer from sun damage probably gained in the UK as we hardly ever went abroad. My advice would be to take it seriously!

Johnogroats Mon 16-Jun-14 10:57:33

The other side of the health thing is that people are not getting enough vitamin D due to the amount if sun cream put on. If it is boiling I usually put cream on in tha am, but wouldn't stress about reapplying it. My kids have quite dark skin, and have never been pink / burnt...I might feel different if they were paler.

PastSellByDate Mon 16-Jun-14 11:04:13

I agree with many of the posts - and also know that when we do send in sun cream my kids (or their teachers) rarely apply it - there just isn't enough time for the teachers to do so and my kids would rather race out and play at break time.

I also tend to cream up before school.

If your child is particularly fair/ there is a family history of skin cancer - I think the sun cream sticks or small tubes are a nice solution. Get a doctor's letter supporting the need for your child to use sun cream - and then let your child apply it as and when needed.

turkeyboots Mon 16-Jun-14 11:12:57

As a parent of two very pale red heads with significant numbers of family members who have had skin cancer I'd be beyond outraged at this. They'd have to keep my DC indoors (and supervised) all summer of they didn't allow top ups of sunscreen.

wonkylegs Mon 16-Jun-14 11:20:29

School policies on this seem to vary - DSs old school banned it saying they couldn't apply it due to allergies/child protection issues. If we wanted our child to have sun cream re-applied in the day then we had to go into the reception at lunchtime and get our child sent out to us to do it ourselves (this was the schools suggestion) the children weren't allowed to do it.
His current school (we moved house) asks for children to take in their own bottle which is stored in a box within the classroom & applied before long periods outside in the sun mainly by the kids with help from the staff. It seems sensible & workable.

CornChips Mon 16-Jun-14 11:27:07

Our school says they are not permitted to apply sunscreen at all as a child protection issue. So we are asked to put on a long-lasting sunscreen and bring in hats. For parents who insist, they have to fill out a medical form for that particular child, and the cream is kept in the bursar's office.

I do think it is somewhat absurd to have it as a child protection issue- but also think that for one teacher to apply sunscreen to 38 kids before playtime is unfeasible.

Deverethemuzzler Mon 16-Jun-14 11:27:37

I thought that being burnt as a child increased your risk of skin cancer as an adult by quite a lot.

Is that not correct then?

I stayed out of the sun in my teens and during adulthood. Went on a sunbed a few times but it didn't do anything so I stopped. Got burnt to feckery as a small child though. Every single summer.

Sun cream is undoubtedly a PITA for schools and childcare settings but its something that needs to be sorted out.

BertieBotts Mon 16-Jun-14 11:29:18

I'm not in the UK but in DS' German kindergarten they bring their own and are expected to put their own on and some of the kids are barely 3.

lougle Mon 16-Jun-14 11:31:12

DD3's school ask that no suncream is taken, but it is applied before school and children are allowed to take a long-sleeved t-shirt or shirt to wear over their polo-shirts in breaks, hats and sunglasses.

DD1's school ask you to send in sun cream, but they are a special school, so 10/11 to a class with extra adults.

sydenhamhiller Mon 16-Jun-14 13:29:46

Hmmmm, thanks all. Quite varied responses. My 10 and 8 yrSr old can apply their own- but realise it might be a bit messy for KS1 kids.

I am going to continue to send it in with the kids and get them to put it on before after school

I do think, if Australian Early Years teachers can do it, am sure we can for the 5 days of sun we get each year :-)

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