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School refuses to apply suntan lotion - what can I do

(54 Posts)
Wills Mon 13-Jun-05 11:39:44

My dd1 is 5 years old. For reasons that I don't want to go into on this thread we have found out recently that our daughters are likely to be genetically predisposed to develop cancer. I am therefore naturally cautious about their world. I apply suntan lotion in the morning just before school, however recent consumer association tests have shown that regardless of what its says on the packet no suntan lotion currently on the market would protect my child adequately enough for the afternoon break. The school's policy is that I can send the lotion in and they will let her apply it. At only 5 I don't feel she is capable yet of doing it well enough and have asked that someone check she's covered. They've refused so I've asked them to ensure that she does not go out during afternoon break. I feel like I'm caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Do I close my eyes to the possibility of cancer later in life (she's come home twice now with very very red arms) or do I simply insist that she sits break out which will upset her terribly. I'm a governor of the school but am looking for advice on whether a) I'm making too much of this or b)how to go about trying to change this attitude.

Just to state to anyone who feels that the whole UVA/Suntan lotion thing is over the top - it may well be. But.... the reason we now have to apply suntan lotion is that the ozone layer is not the same as it used to be when we were kids.
(I'll get off my high horse now)

Gobbledigook Mon 13-Jun-05 11:41:38

I think there is a lotion you can get that you only have to apply once then it works all day. I'm keen to find out which it is because ds1 starts school in Sept and he is very, very fair so in the summer I'd like him to have it on for playtime and games. Then I'll just put it on him when he goes in the morning and hopefully not have to worry for the rest of the day.

Hope someone comes along who knows which it is.

charliecat Mon 13-Jun-05 11:41:50

Is there a way round the teachers not being allowed to apply it, like if you give the school nurse written permission or something?

kama Mon 13-Jun-05 11:43:21

Message withdrawn

gothicmama Mon 13-Jun-05 11:43:49

schools cannot take responsibility cos of fear of being sued etc. can you not send her with a light shirt to cover her arms if she hasn't appyed sun protection properly sorry not much help

charliecat Mon 13-Jun-05 11:44:35

Do you live near enought o go and reapply..i know you should have to but...

loujay Mon 13-Jun-05 11:45:25

Hi,
I am very surprised at your DD's schools policy!! Although my DD is only at nursery, they have categorically stated that she will not be allowed to play outside during the summer unless I supply sun cream for them to put on her and a hat for her to wear. Obviously she cannot apply it herself at her age, but I would have thought that at 5 the school are not surely expecting your DD to do the same. Is it a question of teachers time???
I should think that this is an issue to be raised at a PTA meeting.
Good luck

Moomin Mon 13-Jun-05 11:45:58

Wills - I don't think you're overracting. I had a similar incident to this last week at dd's nursery, but they didn't apply sunscreen out of incompetence rather than it being policy like at your dd's school. I also appreciate your situation with your dd's health and future health.

Is there a case that you could make an inidivual appeal about this to the school and thus to your dd's class teacher? A letter to the Head outlining what you have written here may be the best way to start this off. I'm sure the teacher feels like his/her hands are tied as well - it's very difficult trying to enforce policy that you feel is wrong in any way, esp when there are small children involved. Say in your letter you understand the school's position, but due to your family circumstances (the pre-disposition to cancer) you feel thye may be sympathetic in the this case and make an exception. Perhaps it might help if you siggest your dd's suncream is applied when the other children have gone outside so attention isn't drawn to it? It wouldn't take very long at all for the teacher or classroom asst to do this. Good luck x

flowerpotty Mon 13-Jun-05 11:50:23

I really think this is so unfair of her school, but if they refuse to budge, there are sun lotion wipes on the market (I think they are called 'Sunnies'). These are much easier for children to use than bottles of lotion. They sell them in Boots.

puddle Mon 13-Jun-05 11:50:24

Wills - how horrid for you, with the added factor of your family history.

I think you should be asking what the school do before the kids go out at playtimes and breaks. At DS's they do an all-class application (although the teachers don't help) so at least I know he's reminded to do it. I bought Ds the green spay on lotion and have been practising it with him at home - he can see where he's sprayed and it's quite liquid to good for lathering all over. He's not bad now. i also send him to school in big shirts and longish shorts so the only bits he needs to do are forearms, face and legs from knee down (which are shaded by the baggy shorts....) he's 5 too by the way.

Wills Mon 13-Jun-05 11:59:40

I'm soo glad you've all come back already. This is really bugging me. I don't work nearby otherwise I would be going in each lunchtime. I feel angry that the government are quite happily pushing people to be more sunaware without looking at school policies which dictates that teachers are not allowed to touch children. They are aware of my family's position although not the ins and outs i.e. may not be aware of a predisposition etc, only that dh has cancer. I phoned them the other day to ask and ended up in a heated call with the school secretary who reminded me distinctly of a doctors receptionist . I find it ludicrous that they will watch and ensure children are suitably covered up with coats, gloves, scarfs etc during winter but wont do anything about sun. My dd's teacher is not helpful, in fact I've often wondered why she's gone into teaching young children as she always appears to be flustered/annoyed with them. She's permanently telling all us parents how we are not to ask her anything as she works quite hard enough already.

I like the idea of the coloured spray and will get that this afternoon and start practising, but until I'm confident that she can do it properly I'm still loathe to let her go out.

Prettybird Mon 13-Jun-05 12:00:05

I've discovered Ultrasun (recommended by another Mumsnetter ), which is a once a day application that wroks agains both AVA and UVB.

I've used it now in South Africa and while skiing and it does seem to wrok really well. The only problem with the single application is that if you miss a bit, then you only find out too late!

I use the sensitive skin formulation which has a sun factor of 17 for UVB and 9 for UVA. There is a factor 28 as well (16 for UVA). It's a nice creamy texture, with a slight sheen (from the titanium) to it. The factor 20 liquid feels very aggressive and I don't like it - it is more like P20, which I have also used for the conveninece of the single application (but which only protects against UVB).

It is expensive though - but at least you only have to apply once, and it is your (and you child's) life you are looking after (as my dh reminded me on Saturday when I was applying it on ds and me).

it's also difficult to find: I have to make a special trip to John Lewis to get supplies.

Caligula Mon 13-Jun-05 12:02:46

Wills I don't think you're making too much of htis. IMO this is a classic case of neglecting children's welfare in order to avoid a mythical case of being sued. If anyone can give me details of one single UK court case where a school has been successfully sued for applying sun tan cream to a child, I'd be very surprised.

It makes me so angry that it's OK to neglect children in the name of protecting adults from allegations of abuse. This sort of crap should be stopped - nobody reasonable agrees with it. And yes, you should bring it up at the governor's meeting!

janinlondon Mon 13-Jun-05 12:04:55

Our school nurse is allowed to apply sunscreen - in fact if you don't want her to do it for any reason you had to fill out a form when your child first enrolled. But we are a private school, and I think that may make a difference?

Janh Mon 13-Jun-05 12:06:31

The once-a-day one is P20 , Wills. The FAQ page is very useful.

Twiglett Mon 13-Jun-05 12:06:42

I think you need to take your case to the headmaster directly and not to some school admin staff who does not have the right to intervene

if the school does not provide shaded play areas then they should definitely have a policy of encouraging safe sun play which includes sun protection

I would definitely pursue this one if I were you

Gobbledigook Mon 13-Jun-05 12:07:13

Thanks Prettybird and JanH - I want to get this for ds1 when he goes to school (and for now actually as he has an almighty tantrum whenever I put cream on him!)

Prettybird Mon 13-Jun-05 12:15:44

I much prefer Ultrasun to P20 (having started off by using P20). I'm also not comfortable that the P20 blurb keeps talking about allowing the UVA calls throguh - as I understand it, they are the cancer rays.

Gobbledigook Mon 13-Jun-05 12:16:49

ANd you can get Ultrasun in John Lewis? How much is it?

Prettybird Mon 13-Jun-05 12:20:52

£17.95 rings a bell - but can't remember if that was the 100ml or 150 ml size.

I'll be getting some more this week, so will let you know!

May even be this lunchtime, but it depends on how long it takes me to sort out a problem with a mobile phone charge in the Vodafone shop, as to whether Ihave the time for the extra walk on to John Lewis.

WideWebWitch Mon 13-Jun-05 12:22:26

I haven't read the thread wills but I think you've got to teach her to do it - a teacher just hasn't got time to apply lotion to however many children, it's not feasible in the time available. At 5 she should be able to learn this I'd have thought.

WideWebWitch Mon 13-Jun-05 12:24:04

Oh I see everyone disagrees with me but I just can't see how a teacher would have time tbh. And I don't see that it would be hard to say to children right, now you've got to put your sun tan lotion on and let them all get on with it.

Gobbledigook Mon 13-Jun-05 12:24:08

www - I see your point about teacher time but do you really think a 5 yr old can ensure every part is covered - particularly if they are very fair or if they are at a high risk of cancer? You really can't leave a spot to get burned can you so it's quite important it's done properly.

I think the once a day application is the best idea for Wills - then she can make sure her dd is covered top to toe

WideWebWitch Mon 13-Jun-05 12:26:38

I think the child protection issue is a load of crap, though, absolutely! Gdg, true, once a day stuff would get round the problem too.

WideWebWitch Mon 13-Jun-05 12:27:16

Yes, I do think a 5yo should be able to cover themselves if taught to do it and if they have stuff that showed where it had been applied/not applied.

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