The government is being urged to put more resources into protecting kids from the sun while at school as a new study reveals some schools aren't very sunsmart.
The Otago University study judged 189 state primary schools on how they had implemented the Cancer Society's SunSmart Schools Accreditation Programme (SSAP) from 2005 to 2009 - the first four years the programme has been running.
The findings, released on Tuesday, revealed that sun protection policies in schools had improved, but more needed to be done.
SSAP includes promoting the use of sun protective clothing and sunscreen, encouraging children to play in the shade, staff role modelling and policy reviews.
"The clothing, the shade and policy changes are the more challenging things for the schools to do and those are the areas we hope the government will help the schools to achieve," the study's lead author Associate Professor Tony Reeder told NZ Newswire.
The study found 90 per cent of schools are meeting the criteria for "playing in the shade" - which means children that aren't wearing a hat play under shade - compared with 75 per cent in 2005.
About 75 to 80 per cent of schools are promoting the use of sunscreen and hats, compared to just over 60 per cent in 2005.
However, the weakest areas for most schools was encouraging the use of sun protective clothing and having adequate shade on school grounds.
Almost 60 per cent of schools did not have shade structures or provide sunscreen because the cost was too high.
Mr Reeder says sun protection should be treated like other health and safety issues and the government needs to take a more active role in helping schools become sunsmart, such as funding shade structures.
Northland and Auckland schools had made the fewest improvements, while Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Otago and Southland were doing well.