Promoting shade in schools

The school environment is an excellent opportunity to model positive sun-safe behaviour and encourage good practices for life. Creating effective shade should be considered as one strategy within a comprehensive school-based sun safety approach.

The Department of Education, Training and Employment (DET) encourages Queensland state schools to develop and implement a sun protection strategy to protect students from the dangers of over-exposure to the sun. Their website contains information and links to relevant policy and legislation. State School Principals are responsible for consulting with the school community on the development of a sun protection strategy that:

  • maximises the use of available shade for outdoor activities, and
  • includes shade tree planting and caring programs.

Shade provided as part of state school building works is generally broken down into active and passive areas.

  • Active shade areas: mainly solid roofed structures, or larger areas under high set buildings, generally greater than 150m² for games, physical education and assembly.
  • Passive shade areas: smaller roofed structures to accommodate small groups of students for discussion, interaction, minor games, study or reflection. These smaller structures also extend to weather protection and may include cover over play structures, covered walkways, waiting areas adjacent to vehicle set down and pick up points, and spectator areas adjacent to sports fields.

DET’s  Sun Safety in Secondary School guidelines outline shade requirements by:

  • increasing the use of existing shade structures (natural and artificial)
  • increasing available shade through planting and caring for shade trees
  • providing portable shade structures for use during outdoor activities during peak UVR times

DET has included a special sub-program in the Department of Capital Works Program to enhance shade provisions in schools. Schools can also access “Landscape Design Requirements for Education Queensland Schools (2009)” on the DET intranet. This resource discusses how to enhance natural shade within the school environment while considering sustainability within school facilities and infrastructure. It gives guidance on how to plan, design, initiate and maintain landscape projects.

Independent Schools Queensland and the Queensland Catholic Education Commission both strongly encourage their schools to adopt comprehensive sun protection strategies within the school community, placing a focus on shade provision and usage.

For information on creating or updating your school’s sun safe policy, please visit the Cancer Council Queensland