Chaperoning children performing in public

When you need a chaperone

By law, children performing or rehearsing for a public performance must be with their:

  • parent
  • carer or
  • a registered chaperone.

A family member or friend cannot look after a child who is performing instead of their parent, unless they are a registered chaperone.

A child legally needs to have a chaperone up to age 16, or until they have completed their compulsory education.

The law covers children working in:

  • television,

  • theatre,

  • film

  • amateur performance

  • sporting activities or

  • modelling.

The local authority licences chaperones to make sure children:

  • do not work too long without proper breaks

  • receive education when required

  • are safe and comfortable.

One chaperone can supervise up to 12 children of the same sex at a time. They are responsible for their welfare, except when they are:

  • rehearsing
  • performing or
  • with a parent or carer.

East Sussex County Council strongly recommends using registered chaperones for all performances. This is to safeguard children.

As well as a chaperone, your child will also need a child performance licence if the performance runs longer than three days or your child:

  • performs 4 days or more in a 6-month period
  • gets paid, or
  • misses any school to take part.

About chaperones

Chaperones must be over 18.

There is a charge to become a chaperone. A volunteer chaperone licence is £35, and a Professional Chaperone licence is £75.

A volunteer provides their service for free (apart from expenses), so their Enhanced DBS check is free of charge.

The Professional receives payment for their service and therefore the Enhanced DBS will cost £44.00. It is illegal to use your free of charge DBS certificate to earn any form of income.

You apply to the local authority where you live and pay your Council Tax. If you do not live in East Sussex, you need to apply to your local authority. The process takes 6 to 8 weeks.

The chaperone's duties

A chaperone is the person that the child goes to for guidance, protection, advice and support. They must:

  • understand the regulations of the child’s licence and make sure the producer follows them
  • not let a child perform if they are unwell
  • keep a note of contacts. These include their and the child’s licensing authorities, the Children’s Services Authority, the child’s agent and parent or guardian.
  • always ask to see a child’s licence when they arrive.

If the production company cannot prove that a child is licensed, chaperones should contact the child’s Children’s Services Authority urgently. The child should not perform if a licence has not been granted, unless the performance is a one-off amateur production of less than three days.

The maximum number of 12 children may be too many if there is a range of different ages. We suggest 8 children as a maximum in most cases.

The application process

You can use a chaperone licence nationally, but you apply to your local authority - GOV.UK where you pay your council tax.

The process, including safeguarding and reference checks, takes 6 to 8 weeks. We can’t issue a licence any quicker due to the necessary safeguarding checks.

If you live in East Sussex:

  • complete online training on child entertainment legislation and safeguarding.
  • complete the application form.
  • pay the fee.
  • provide two personal references
  • pass the DBS check*
  • provide two passport sized photographs

We can refuse a chaperone licence if we are not satisfied that the applicant is suitable.

Chaperone licences last for three years and then you need to reapply.

*DBS checks

We cannot use an existing DBS certificate from your workplace. You will need to get a new one through us, unless you are with the online, DBS Update Service - GOV.UK.

If you are with the online DBS Update Service, you just need to:

  • show us the original DBS certificate you used to register with the update service, and
  • give us permission to carry out an online update service check

About chaperone licences

Your licence is valid for three years from the date of issue of your DBS certificate.

It is not only valid in East Sussex. You can chaperone all over the country.

Chaperone licences last for three years and then you need to reapply. We will not remind you when your licence is due to expire. Make a note for yourself and apply to renew 8 weeks before to be sure it doesn’t lapse.

If you lose your licence you can apply for a replacement licence which will cost £10. Please email us to request this to:  

Finding work

We are not a recruitment agency and cannot help you find work. Nor do we promote or share third party information about the people we licence.

Concerned about a chaperone?

If you have concerns about someone who is chaperoning, contact our Child Employment and Entertainment Team.

Telephone: 01273 481 967 or 

Email: Child employment team

The local authority has the right to inspect performance venues in their area. We are legally permitted to carry out inspections whenever they desire.