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 is not required for a child to have time off school to attend an audition or casting, but it is 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 head teacher has given permission for them to take time off 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 group or organisation approved by the council or, in a few exceptional circumstances, by the Secretary of State. In these circumstances, an application has to be made under the Body of Persons Approval (BOPA).
If a BOPA application and contract of agreement 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).
Children performing abroad
The Children and Young Persons Act 1933, section 25, states the procedure to obtain a licence for a child who's going abroad to take part in a performance or activity for profit; licences are issued by a justice of the peace from the Magistrates Court in the district where the child resides.
When children are performing abroad, the decision about whether or not a licence is required is solely in the hands of the Magistrates Court. The issuing of licences for children performing abroad is outside the remit of a local authority; we have no legal authority to issue licences for performing abroad, or to request that Magistrates Courts issue licences.
How to apply for a child performance 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)
Please make sure you have the signature from the child's parents, the child's birth certificate, and a photograph of the child. You need to email your completed application to us at least 21 days before the day on which the first performance or activity takes place. Please note, we don't accept applications sent by post.
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 can refuse to grant you a licence if you don't submit your completed application at least 21 days before the day on which the first performance or activity takes place.
Workload permitting, we may be able to issue a licence if a completed application is received at least 10 working days prior to the performance. You should contact us on (01226) 773580 to discuss if we are able to process your application in less than 21 days before submitting any paperwork.
Any applications received after 3.30pm will be acknowledged the next working day.
Call: (01226) 773580
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.