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Children in entertainment

29 November 2018

All children who perform on stage or in television, such as in films and commercials, or who work in paid or professional sport or modelling must have a licence.  Here you can find information on how to apply for a licence, the approval criteria and what we mean by performance


If children are to take part in any of the above activities, the legislation requires them to be licensed by the local authority (LA) in which they live. This includes babies and children up to the compulsory school age. These children have their welfare and safety protected by the following legislation:


  • The Children and Young Persons Act 1933
  • The Children and Young Persons Act 1963
  • The Children (Performance and Activities) (England) 2014
  • The Children (Protection at Work) Regulations 1998


The LA for Essex is Essex County Council.  If a child lives in a London borough or a unitary authority but has an Essex postal address, then their LA will be the authority in which they live. For example:


  • Southend, Essex will be Southend Unitary Authority
  • Thurrock, Essex will be Thurrock Unitary Authority
  • Romford, Essex will be London Borough of Havering
  • Dagenham, Essex will be London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
  • Ilford, Essex will be London Borough of Redbridge


How to apply for a licence

An application for a licence must be on a standard application form with the completed school permission form.
It is a legal requirement that the licence applicant is the person responsible for the production in which the child is to take part. This does not include those who provide children for a production, such as the proprietor of a drama, dance school or an agent.


When applying for a licence please:


  • provide a photocopy of the child's birth certificate or passport
  • provide two recent (within six months) identical passport size photographs of the child with their name written on the back
  • ensure the school completes the form giving permission for any absences from school
  • ensure all parts of the licence application are completed including parental declaration.



The legislation allows a licensing authority 21 days from the receipt of all of the above documents to issue an individual entertainment licence. 


Approval criteria

The licensing authority when considering a licence application must be satisfied that:


  • the child’s formal education will not be affected
  • the child’s health will not suffer
  • the venue where the performance or rehearsal takes place is suitable
  • all of the conditions of the licence will be maintained.



A performance is where a child takes part in a theatre production, commercial or TV/film production and:


  • a charge is made (even if there is no admission fee for the audience/spectators)
  •  the performance takes place on licensed premises or in a licensed club
  • the performance is to be broadcast to the public
  • the performance is being recorded for public viewing
  • an activity is directed in any way that it may be reviewed and converted into a performance.


A child does not need an individual performance licence if they (a) perform for only four days in any six-month period, and they do not need to be absent from school to undertake the performance,  in which case they may be covered by a non licence performance exemption or (b) they are covered by a body of persons approval, documents below must be completed for this:



or (c) they take part in their full-time school performance (this is the educational school not a school of dance)

Chaperones and supervision

The above legislation lays down the regulations regarding chaperones for children who perform and or take part in activities in entertainment. This includes theatre, film, TV, modelling, photo shoots and sport. Any child taking part in a performance must be supervised by their parent or a Local Authority licensed chaperone. 


Chaperones are licensed by the LA in which they live. Their role is to ensure that the welfare of the child is paramount when on location and to supervise the child at all times.


The licensed chaperone acts in loco parentis to the child or children in their care and is expected to exercise a duty of care which any parent/carer might be reasonably expected to give their chid. They have a responsibility to ensure the child is properly cared for at all times, thus securing their health, comfort and welfare. Chaperones must ensure that the child performs within the terms of any licence issued and that the legislative requirements are adhered to.


‘The licensing authority must not approve a person as a chaperone unless it is satisfied that the person:


(a) is suitable and competent to exercise proper care and control of a child of the age and sex of the child in question; and

(b) will not be prevented from carrying out duties towards the child by duties  towards other

children.                                                                                                                                              Child (Performance and Activities)(England) Regulations 2014, Part 3, Section 15). 

Voluntary Sector Chaperones:


You must hold a current ‘Child Workforce’ enhanced DBS Certificate before a chaperone licence application can be submitted.


The manager of the group you will be chaperoning for will process your DBS application and all required checks if you do not already have one. They will also check your current status where you have a DBS and are registered with the on-line DBS update service. If you already have a DBS but are not registered with the on-line update service and your DBS was issued more than 12 months ago, you will need to apply for a new DBS.


Once you have received your DBS certificate and provided all required information to your manager, they will scan your application form and photograph, together with their signed declaration form to the child employment team.


The child employment team will then carry out safeguarding checks with social   care and contact your referees.  Once we have evidence that you possess the    skills for the role of chaperone and that Social Care has no safeguarding concerns your licence will be issued.


Professional Sector Chaperones:   

(Applicants should be aware that there is a £59 charge which is payable to Essex County Council for processing this type of application).

You will need to make an appointment at one of our Area Offices to arrange for your identity documents to be verified if you do not currently hold a DBS Certificate, where you hold a DBS but have not signed up to the on-line DBS renewal service and your DBS was not issued by Essex County Council or where your certificate was issued by Essex more than eighteen months ago and you are not signed up to the on-line DBS renewal service. Please follow the instructions regarding this on the professional chaperone process flowchart.

You will need to complete and sign the DBS Consent Forms, Chaperone Application form and take these to your appointment, together with a passport size photograph and three documents that will verify you identity. (See the DBS Evidence Checklist, on the back of the flowchart, regarding required documents).

The chaperone application  and DBS consent forms are available below:



The instructions for completion and process can be found below:


Information about Disclosure and Barring Service checks can be found below:

Information about the online DBS update service may be found below:


Should you require any assistance with this process contact or telephone 0333 0138 967.


A comprehensive guide to child performance licensing has been produced by the National Network for Children in Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE).