Child performances

There are strict laws governing the employment of young people, including their involvement in theatre performances, filming or modelling assignments. The dates and times young people are allowed to perform are also regulated. Check the performance table for details.

Our Education Welfare Service investigates and monitors employment undertaken by young people of compulsory school age to make sure that it's legal and safe, and that it doesn't damage or interrupt their education.

When a licence is required

A licence will always be required if a child has to take time off school to take part in a performance or activity.  Please see Children Performance and Activities Licence legislation.

A licence isn't required for a child to have time off school to attend an audition or casting, but it's good practice to ask the school for permission.

We need to make sure that any disruption to the child’s education is kept to a minimum, so we'll only grant a licence once we're satisfied that the child's involvement in the performance or activity won't affect their education, and once their headteacher has given permission for them to take time of school to take part. An email or letter from the school giving approval for the absence will be accepted.    

When a child takes part in any performance or activity, full details of their performances, including dates and times, should be given to their school, as listed in the request for absence from school

Sometimes a licence isn't necessary, for example if a child is taking part in a performance arranged by a body or people (organisation) approved by the council or, in a few exceptional circumstances, by the Secretary of State. In these circumstances, an  application for a 'body of persons exemption has to be made under the Body of Persons Approval (BOPA).

The BOPA application for a body of persons exemption and contract of agreement can be issued to an organisation for a specific performance or for a limited period of time to put on performances involving children.

If a BOPA is granted to an organisation, they don't need to apply for individual licences from each child’s home council during the period of approval, providing the BOPA criteria and conditions continue to be fulfilled. (see page 10 of the Child Performance Regulations).

For more information and legislation around child performances, visit National Network of Child Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE).

How to apply for a licence

If you're casting children in your production or modelling assignment, you need to download and fill in our application form to apply for a child performance licence.

There are two parts to the form which you need to download and complete:

  • Part 1 is about the performance or activity
  • Part 2 is information required about the child (including health declaration)

As we need a signature from the child's parents, the child's birth certificate, and two photographs of them, you can't apply online. 

You need to send your application to the Education Welfare Service at least 21 days before the day on which the first performance/activity takes place.

How we process your application

We assess all applications on an individual basis. If approved, we'll grant you a licence for the duration of the performance, up to a period of six months.

Under current legislation, we have 21 days to process your application and can refuse to grant you a licence if you don't submit your complete application at least 21 days before the day on which the first performance/activity takes place.

There are periods, workload permitting, where we may be able to issue a licence in cases where we've receive the complete application at least 10 working days prior to the performance, but you should contact us before you submit your application to check whether we can process your licence in less than 21 days.

We can only process applications on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and all day Friday. 

Any applications received after 3.30pm will be acknowledged the next working day.

Contact us

Call: (01226) 773580
Write to: Education Welfare Service, PO Box 634, Barnsley, S70 9GG

Opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 8.30am to 5pm and Fridays from 8.30am to 4.30pm

You can also contact the Education Welfare Officer through your child’s school