Don't get burnt by sun-safety policy

4th September 1998 at 01:00
The Health Education Authority is absolutely right to promote sun safety in schools. All schools should have a sun-safety policy.

Like other health and safety issues, there needs to be a risk assessment. How often and for how long are pupils likely to be directly exposed to the sun? What natural shade is available? Is there any constructed shade available?

The Local Government Association is correct to say that most schoolchildren are capable of applying sunscreen products themselves. Sadly the association is also correct to highlight the enormous problem of teachers being falsely accused of physical andor sexual abuse.

The issue of sunscreen is only one aspect of a school sun policy. Schools should consider the safest arrangements for outdoor PE, sports day and trips. There should be a policy on hats and clothing as well as sunscreens. Parents, governors and staff all need to be on board.

Teachers are genuinely concerned about physical contact with pupils. A false allegation of abuse can destroy a teacher. In law, guilt has to be proved. In reality, a teacher falsely accused has to prove innocence. This should not be the way.

David Brierley Solicitor Professional Association of Teachers Friar Gate, Derby

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