The SunSmart Schools Programme (SSP) provides accreditation by the Cancer Society of NZ (CSNZ) for New Zealand schools that have developed and implemented a sun protection policy for Terms 1and 4. The policy must meet CSNZ's minimum criteria which ensures students and teachers are in a sunsafe environment.
The purpose of the programme is to promote comprehensive sun protection policies and practices in schools to reduce children’s exposure to UV radiation and their risk of skin cancer.
The accreditation process recognises the efforts a school is making to implement a comprehensive sun protection policy and practices. For many families, sun protection is an important component when selecting a school that ensures their children’s general safety.
All New Zealand primary and intermediate schools (and the primary and intermediate section of area schools) can apply to become SunSmart Accredited. The SSP may be extended to early childhood centres and secondary schools at some stage in the future. While accreditation is not currently available to early childhood centres and secondary schools, the SunSmart Schools Sample Policy and Minimum Criteria for Accreditation, can be used in these areas to develop comprehensive sun protection policies.
The SunSmart schools programme was developed in Australia over a decade ago, and has been shown to be the most effective programme for sun protection policy and practice in national evaluation research in Australia. It is recommended as the “Gold standard” schools’ sun protection programme by the World Health Organisation. The Cancer Society in New Zealand have developed and adapted this programme to fit into the New Zealand curriculum and climate. The Cancer Society is promoting the SunSmart schools programme to all primary and intermediate schools throughout New Zealand.
A survey of primary and intermediate schools was carried out in 2005 to establish the level of sun protection policies and practices prior to the SSP being launched as a National programme.