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Children in entertainment

Legislation exists to protect children of compulsory school age or below working in the entertainment industry. This includes children who perform on:

  • stage
  • television
  • film
  • radio productions
  • commercials
  • paid modelling assignments
  • paid sporting activities

A child is of compulsory school age until the last Friday in June in the school year in which they reach the age of 16. This has not changed following the introduction of the participation age, which requires young people to remain in education, training or employment until they reach 18.

A child performance licence, issued by the child’s home local authority, is required for a child to take part in a performance. The child must be properly chaperoned either by their parent or an approved chaperone registered with a local authority.

A child is exempt from licensing and therefore does not require a licence if:

  • they will not have performed on more than 4 days in any 6 month period (a licence is required to cover the fifth day of performing onwards) and do not require any time off school, nor will they (or anybody on their behalf) receive any payment or reward as a result of their performing
  • they perform in their school’s production for example, their main education provider’s production not their dance school

Productions are expected to gain proof of exemption from licensing from a child’s home local authority.

How to apply for a child performance licence

To apply for a child performance licence the child performance licence application form must be completed and signed by both the parent and applicant and sent together with the following documents:

  • a recent passport sized or electronic photograph of the child (front facing, head shot with a plain background)
  • a copy of the child's birth certificate or valid passport
  • a letter from the child's school giving permission for the child to be absent from school to perform, if applicable

The council are willing to consider issuing a Body of Persons Approval (BOPA) exemption to amateur productions taking place within the Bracknell Forest area, as an alternative to individual licensing and exemptions, so long as no child will require absence from school to participate.

A Bracknell Forest BOPA is issued per performance under condition the production conforms fully to the child performance legislation, with the exception of the need to acquire individual performance licences. It covers all children taking part regardless of where they live. Further information on a Bracknell Forest BOPA can be found in our BOPA Guidance for Applicants document.

Before issuing either a performance licence or BOPA exemption, we must be satisfied the arrangements for the supervision and safeguarding of the child(ren) are appropriate and conform to both legislation and safeguarding best practices and that the disruption to a child's education is kept to a minimum.

Legislation states a licensing authority can request applications be submitted with 21 days' notice before the first performance or activity for which the licence is requested, however every effort is made to process applications well within this timescale. Incomplete applications may mean that the office will not be able to issue the licence within the required timescale.

Guidance on the current child performance regulations can be found in A Guide to Child Performance Licensing.

Further information on children in entertainment can be found on the National Network for Children in Employment & Entertainment website.

Contact information

Display Name Child Employment Office

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