Search site

Children in entertainment

In October 1968 the Home Secretary made an order bringing Part II of the Children and Young Person Act 1963 into force. This brought into effect the Children (Performance) Regulations 1968.

The following is a summary of the basic legislation covering all children of and under compulsory school leaving age who are in entertainment, whether performance, sport or modelling. The primary focus of this legislation is to protect the child.

The full Acts/Regulations can be found on

The '63 Act and '68 Regulations constitute a comprehensive code governing the circumstances in which all children under compulsory school leaving age (Education Act and amendments) may take part in performances of all kinds, and containing safeguards for the children.

As time has progressed amendments and statutory instruments have been added to the '68 Regulations. It is important, therefore, when referring to the main legislation that you also take into account such updates (normally listed as statutory instruments), which are listed at the bottom of the page, and also occasionally browse the website for any further applicable updates.

Terms used

  • LEA refers to the Local Education Authority (the authority who issues a child performance licence and approves (licenses) chaperones (matrons). Each LEA has a statutory responsibility to issue Child Performance Licenses for children who live in their area
  • LA refers to the local authority (the authority who inspects a place of performance). Each LA has the responsibility to inspect any premises in their local authority area where children are/may be performing
  • Licence Applicant is also the Licence Holder. This person is legally responsible for the child and ensuring that all relevant parts of the Acts and Regulations are followed
  • The word Matron is used within the legislation. Nowadays matrons are generally referred to as Chaperones. They are one and the same
  • Broadcast Performances cover: films, TV, Video - all performances which will be broadcast
  • Non-Broadcast Performances cover: theatre, modelling, sport (activities), which are not broadcast

Note: modelling for adverts/commercials would be broadcast but stills modelling would fall into non-broadcast performances.

A brief guide to the regulations

If a child of compulsory school age, or younger, performs in: theatre - where a charge is made; modelling and sport - where the child or any other person is paid (this is not an admission charge but a 'wage'); or in licensed premises, a Child Performance Licence must be obtained.

Exemptions where a licence is not required - Regulation 37(3)(a) -

  • If, in the 6 months preceding a performance the child has not exceeded the 3 day unlicensed exemption period
  • And they do not require time off school (paid or unpaid)
  • Or the performance is under arrangements made with a School or a Body of Persons
  • And no payment is made to the child or any other person, except defraying expenses, a licence is not required

LEAs would generally require a child to be licensed if absence from school is required for any performance irrespective of the above. Check with your LEA.

Note: broadcast and recorded performances. Although a child may be exempt from requiring a licence if the above requirements are met the regulations do require the licence holder to adhere to certain parts of the Regulations i.e. the time at the place of performance and the hours they are allowed to perform (Reg. 1968 S.36 to S.40). Contact your local LEA for details.


  • There are several variations within the Regulations between Broadcast and non-Broadcast performances, for example: performance hours are different for broadcast and non-broadcast performances
  • Examples: medical certificates are required for all broadcast and recorded performances but may not be necessary for non-broadcast performance i.e. depends upon how many consecutive dates a child performs in the theatre
  • Performance. The Licence Applicant is the person responsible for the production in which the child is to take part. This does not include the proprietor of a drama or dancing school or other person (such as an agent) who put forward children for a production, but does not himself present it. 'Person' includes a body corporate; if the applicant is a body corporate a person normally responsible for conducting this part of the corporation's business may sign the application form. The holder of the licence is the person who is responsible for ensuring the restrictions and conditions relating to the the licence are adhered to
  • Sport, Activity, Modelling. The Licence Applicant is the person responsible for the organisation of the sporting event or, as the case be, the person who proposes to engage the child as a model
  • The Licence Applicant is required to complete Part I of the licence application form and the parent must complete Part II detailing such areas as: place and date of performance, chaperone/tutor details, child's details and so forth in order to obtain a Licence. See example of a Licence Application Form. Note: LEAs may accept other LEA application forms but you need to check this. What is important is that ALL the required information is present in order for the LEA to process an application

Note: incomplete forms will be returned and may prevent / delay issuing of same.

  • The LEA may refuse to issue a licence if the performance is believed to be detrimental to the: health, care and/or education of the child (1968 Act Section 39(6)). The LEA may acquire additional information from the applicant before a licence is issued and in some cases the LEA may include certain proviso's or refuse a licence altogether. The LEA may also revoke previously issued licenses (licenses which are currently running) if there are concerns about the welfare of the particular child named in the application
  • LEAs have a great deal of discretion within this legislation as they have a duty to scrutinize any areas of concern in order to confirm that the performance will not have a detrimental effect on the child in question. These concerns may not be obvious to the applicant i.e. educational concerns, child protection concerns etc. and for this reason Bexley require a minimum 21 days notice
  • Bexley do not issue open licences

Chaperones (matrons)

Children must be in the care of either their parent (the child's legal guardian) or an approved chaperone (matron) at all times.

Note: grandparents, uncles, child minders and the like are NOT legal guardians (unless they are recognised as such by the courts), therefore, need to be approved in order to chaperone a child. Parents, unless they are also licensed chaperones, cannot chaperone children other than their own.

Inspections - powers of entry

An authorised officer of an LEA or police officer may, under a magistrate's warrant, enter any place where there is reasonable cause to believe that employment is taking place or a person is believed to be taking part in a performance or being trained for dangerous performances, contrary to the provisions of the Act, in order to make enquiries about that person.

An authorised officer of an LA or a police officer may also:

  • Without a warrant, at any time enter any place used as a broadcasting studio or film studio or used for the recording of a performance with a view to its use in a broadcast or in a film intended for public exhibition and make enquiries about any children taking part in performances
  • At any time during the currency of any licence granted under S.37 or relating to training for dangerous performances enter any premises where the performance or training is authorised to take place and make enquiries about the person to whom the licence relates

The Licence Holder (applicant) is obliged to hold individual licences for each child in their care, at the place of performance (it is not adequate to hold these documents at the applicant or agent's office during a performance, which is at a different location from the performance).

An inspecting LA officer will wish to check each child's licence together with their record sheet/s. Record sheets should detail such things as:- arrival/departure/tutoring and performing times throughout a production for which the Licence was issued. Inspectors may also want to talk to the children, chaperones, parents and applicant.

They may, if it is felt appropriate, make enquiries regarding health and safety and risk assessments, especially where dangerous performances (as defined under the regulations) are taking place.

Children performing abroad and children performing in the UK from abroad

UK children performing abroad are required to obtain a licence from their local magistrates' court or Bow Street. Practices differ depending on which part of the country the child lives. Contact your LEA, local magistrates' court or Bow Street for specific details on applying for a licence for a UK child performing abroad.

Children performing in the UK from abroad are required to be licensed in the UK and follow UK legislation ie. hours of work etc. The procedures are exactly the same as for a UK child.

The child can be licensed by the LEA in whose area the applicant has his/her main residence; the applicant's head office or the LEA in whose area the child is performing or living during his/her stay in this country. This would also apply to children in UK boarding schools.


Nightwork is not an automatic right within the legislation. Nightwork is totally at the discretion of an LEA. They will take into account the circumstances as to why nightwork is required, the age of the child and so forth. It is vital, therefore, that the application form explains exactly why nightwork is required. It may also be necessary to talk this through with the child's LEA.


It is an offence for any person causing or procuring any child or, if his parent or guardian, allowing him/her to take part in any performance in contravention of the licensing system. Persons found in contravention of the licensing regulations will be liable to penalties.


Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and 1963
Children (Performances) Regulations 1968
The Children (Performance) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 1998(1)
The Children (Performance) Amendment Regulations 2000
The Children (Performance) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2000
Statutory Instruments: 1968 No. 1728, 1998 No. 1678, 2000 No. 10, and No. 2384

For more information about Children in entertainment email