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Children in entertainment

Children and Young Persons Act 1963, s.37. The Children (Performances and Activities) (England) Regulations 2014


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Is a licence required?

Generally the answer is yes but there are some exceptions.

A child may perform without a licence for up to four days, but only if:

  • it is unpaid
  • no absence from school is required
  • the child has not performed in the previous six months.

Performances arranged by school, scouts, guides, youth clubs etc are exempt from license and the licensing authority need not be notified.

However, the rule on absence from school still applies and therefore if a child is absent from school for rehearsals and/or performances, he/she must be licensed.

Who is the licensing authority?

Normally the Local Authority (LA) where the child lives.  If a child attends boarding school,  the LA is where the school is located.  If a child lives outside England, the LA is where the licence applicant lives/has business premises.

Who applies for the licence?

  • Performances - Person responsible for production.
  • Modelling - Person who proposes to engage the child.
  • Paid Sporting - Person responsible Activity for organising  the event.

When must the licence application be made?

Application should be submitted 21 days before the performance takes place.  If a licence is requested at short notice, every effort will be made to oblige but authorisation cannot be guaranteed.

Apply for a Performance Licence


The LA must be satisfied that the child's education and health will not suffer; the place of performance/rehearsal is satisfactory and that the conditions of the licence will be observed.

Medical examinations

A medical examination may be required depending on the period, number and type of performances.  Where a medical examination is not required, a signed declaration by the parent stating that the child is well enough for the purpose of the licence is requested.

Absence from school

Permission  for absence may be granted by the Head teacher  for a licensed performance only and should be recorded on the school register as Authorised Absence.  The Head teacher cannot give permission for a child to be absent to attend auditions or rehearsals except for rehearsals during the period of the licence.

Daily restrictions - general

  • One performance/rehearsal on any full day a child attends school
  • A child must not perform for the maximum number of days in the week for more than 8 consecutive weeks without an interval of 2 weeks
  • There must be an interval of 1½ hours between two performances/rehearsals in the same day (may be varied in certain circumstances)

Daily restrictions - stage performances

A child may not perform for more than 6 days in any week

Earliest and latest times:

  • Under 13 yrs - 10.00am and 10.00pm*
  • Over 13 yrs   - 10.00am and 10.30pm*
  • *Or ½ hour after last appearance, whichever is the earlier.  (May be varied in certain circumstances)
  • An interval of 14 hours must elapse between a child leaving and arriving at the theatre (unless for private tuition)                             
  • Daily restriction - stage performances (Contd.)
  • Length of performances must not exceed 3½ hours and child's part must not exceed 2½ hours
  • Daily restrictions - film/broadcast performances
  • A child cannot be at place of performance/rehearsal for more than 5 days in any one week
  • A child may take part only in performances of the same nature on the same day

There are specific conditions regarding rest and meal breaks depending on time at place of performance and age of the child.


The licence holder is responsible for ensuring that the child is supervised at all times and under the charge of a chaperone approved by the licensing authority (except when in the charge of the child's parent/guardian or tutor).  The number of children in a chaperone's charge can vary according to the ages of the children or if they are living away from home, but the maximum is 12.  A tutor may also be approved to act as a chaperone but the number of children must not exceed three.

The licensing officer is responsible for the approval of any proposed chaperone who resides within his authority.  Approval can be withdrawn if there are concerns as to the conduct of a chaperone.

How to apply to become a chaperone

You should contact the licensing officer who will send you an information package including an application form.  The application form should be completed and returned.

The approval procedure will include:

  • Reference  - you will be asked to give the names of two referees
  • Security - your permission will be requested  to conduct a check with police records
  • Interview - a brief, informal interview.

Chaperones are encouraged to feel that they can contact the licensing officer with any queries or concerns.

Once approved, a chaperone is granted authorisation for a period of three years.  This may be renewed on request but will be subject to a police check every three years.

Apply for a Chaperone Licence

A young person is of compulsory school age until the last Friday in June in the school year in which they reach the age of sixteen years.

Note:  These are guidelines only, if you require more detailed information please contact the Child Employment and Performance Officer.