Children in entertainment

Under the Children and Young Persons Act 1963 and Children (Performances and Activities)(England) Regulations 2014, Sefton Council is responsible for the licensing of all Sefton school aged children who appear in a performance either on the stage or on television, who take part in certain sporting activities, or who work as models.


A licence is required for children who are taking part in a performance, modelling assignment, or paid sporting activity. A performance covers dance shows and stage shows not organised by the child’s school and any broadcast work and photo shoots. 

A licence is required if a performance meets the following criteria:

  • it takes place on licensed premises
  • is broadcast, filmed or recorded for public exhibition
  • a charge is made (even if there is no admission charge).

A licence is also required if the child:

  • performs for more than 3 days in 6 months
  • is being paid
  • requires time off from school.

It is illegal for the child to perform without a licence.

For further examples please contact the Child Entertainment and Employment Section.

An application is made by the applicant. This can be the dance school owner, model/casting agent or producer of a film/tv broadcast or theatre producer. The applicant completes Section 1 of the application form and the parent/guardian completes Section 2 and the Medical Declaration Form.  The parent will then return the form, along with a copy of the child’s birth certificate and passport photograph to the applicant who will then return the completed form to the Child Entertainment and Employment Section.

Once an application has been processed we will send out the performance license to the applicant, agent (if applicable), parent, school and the local authority that the performance will take place.

A licence is required for a child under school leaving age (this includes children who have reached age 16 during the academic year i.e. are still of compulsory school age) to take part in a performance or activity, including films, tv, radio, commercials, sport, music groups, theatre, amateur dramatics, dance groups and working as a model. A performance licence is required if a child has performed more than 3 days in 6 months, is being paid, is filmed or time off school is require. An application will need to be completed and we also require the following to support the application:

  • Copy of child's Birth Certificate 
  • Passport style photograph of the child, taken within the last 6 months 
  • Parent, carer or legal guardian declaration 

Download a copy of a full Child Performance Application Licence.

 

There are certain circumstances when a licence may not be required, and where a Non Licence Application (Exemption) may be more appropriate.

 A Non Licence approval may be issued if:

  • The child has not taken part in more than 3 days of performance in the last 6 months (a full licence is required for the 4th day).
  • No time off school is required (performance or rehearsal)
  • No payment is received or the performance is filmed.

If this applies an exemption could be issued.

If an exemption is issued, there is no legal requirement to have licenced chaperones. However, we strongly advise that you have sufficient adult supervision for the children at all times.  If you have licensed chaperones within your organisation they should be listed on the spreadsheet.

Download a copy of the Non License Application (Exemption) Form.

Another non-licence which may be issued is a Body of Persons Approval (BOPA). This is an approval which is issued to an organisation, normally for a period of 2 years. However, there are a number of criteria which must be met, such as, the child (or anyone else) cannot be paid for their part in the performance and the child must not require any time off school in order to perform or rehearse.  The organisation must also provide evidence of a robust safeguarding policy.  BOPA’s are most commonly issued to dance schools and amateur dramatic societies.  A BOPA is issued by the Local Authority where the performance is taking place, rather than where the children live. The approval would list all the young performers regardless of the authority in which they reside.

Download a copy of the BOPA exemption application.

 Licenses will be granted if the authority is satisfied that all relevant conditions are met i.e. a completed application form is received along with supporting evidence, that the licence is received quickly enough for the Child Entertainment Section to process and send out paperwork and that a child’s school attainment will not be impacted on as a result of the performance.  The general turn around for licenses is 21 days, however if you require a more urgent license please contact us. The pupil's school may veto the issuing of the licence if they think it will prejudice the education, health or welfare of a young person.

All performances are now covered by the same restrictions in terms of times of performance, breaks, education requirement, and number of consecutive days. However, these do vary depending on the age of the child. 

Children should not take part in performances or rehearsals:

  • on more than 6 consecutive days
  • for more than 8 consecutive weeks without an interval of 2 weeks
  • more than once a day if attending school that day
  • without an interval of 1 hour 30 minutes between 2 performances on the same day
  • without an interval of 12 hours between the end of an evening performance and the start of the following day

 

Times and hours for children age 9+

The child must not be at the premises:

  • for more than 9 hours 30 minutes in 1 day (including tuition)
  • before 7am at the earliest
  • after 11pm at the latest

 While the child is at the performance premises they:

  • can perform for a maximum of 2 hours 30 minutes at a time and 5 hours in total
  • must have at least 2 breaks (45 minutes for a meal and 15 minutes for a break) if they are at the premises for 4 hours or more
  • must have at least 3 breaks (45 minutes for a meal and 2 15 minute breaks) if they are at the premises for 8 hours or more

 

Times and hours for children age 5-8

The child must not be at the premises:

  • for more than 8 hours in 1 day (including tuition)
  • before 7am at the earliest
  • after 11pm at the latest

While the child is at the performance premises they:

  • can perform for a maximum of 2 hours 30 minutes at a time and 3 hours in total
  • must have at least 2 breaks (45 minutes for a meal and 15 minutes for a break) if they are at the premises for more than 4 hours
  • must have at least 3 breaks (45 minutes for a meal and 2 15 minute breaks) if they are at the premises for 8 hours or more

 

Times and hours for children age 0 - 4

 The child must not be at the premises:

  • for more than 5 hours in 1 day (including tuition)
  • before 7am at the earliest
  • after 10pm at the latest

While the child is at the performance premises they:

  • can perform for a maximum of 30 minutes at a time and 2 hours in total
  • must have at least 2 breaks (1 hour for a meal and 15 minutes for a break) if they are at the premises for more than 4 hours

Download the NNCEE restrictions in relation to all child performances.

Children working in entertainment must be accompanied by one of either their parents or an authorised chaperone at all times.

Before the licence is issued, we must be satisfied that arrangement for the supervision and protection of the child are adequate, and that the disruption to the child's education is kept to a minimum.

If you are a Sefton resident and wish to apply to become an approved chaperone, you should contact the Child Employment and Entertainment team.

An application pack will be sent to you with instructions on what you need to do to apply.  This will involve requests for references, an individual interview reinforcing the importance of safeguarding and you will also be required to apply for a new DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) certificate to support your application, regardless of whether you already hold one. Costs will vary and are dependent on whether you will be chaperoning on a volunteer or professional basis, and are available to contacted via Sefton’s list of approved chaperones.

Download Guidance Notes for a Chaperone 

Download Cost Notes for a Chaperones Application

Download a Chaperone Application Form

If you wish to apply for a licence for children in entertainment or if you would like to apply to become a chaperone, please contact the Child Entertainment Section at Sefton Council on 0151 934 3456 or by email

The child performance and activities licensing legislation sets out the arrangements that must be made to safeguard children when they take part in certain types of performances, paid sport or paid modelling and what the law requires of people responsible for putting on these performances and activities.

The Children (Performances & Activities) (England) Regulations 2014 can be found on the legislation.gov.uk website.  

The Department for Education has produced an advice document which you should read alongside these Regulations. A guidance document which includes examples of best practice has been developed from the experience of many different sectors involved in the industry. This document together with other useful information in respect of child employment and entertainment can be found on the NNCEE website


Last Updated on 30 May 2018