About Child Performance Licensing
As there is not currently a nationwide standardised form or process for licensing children in the performing arts (to the dismay of the entire performing arts industry) child performance licences can vary in each district or LEA (Local Education Authority) in our experience the following notes are standard rules but should be referred to as a guide only. For further information you can get in touch with your relevant LEA from our LEA Application Application Forms and Contact Information Page or read more about Children in Entertainment on the NNCEE National Network for Children in Employment & Entertainment Website.
To view a list of relevant Child Performance Licence Application Forms visit our LEAs Application Forms and Contact Information Page.
Changes to Performance Licensing
Biggest overhaul to child performance regulations in over 40 years
Outdated and confusing child performance rules are to be overhauled, under sweeping changes published by Children’s Minister Tim Loughton.
The requirements for licensing under-16s to take part safely in public performances - including television, radio, films or stage - have not been reformed since 1968.
But there is widespread concern they are now simply archaic, complex, irrelevant and overly bureaucratic - drawn up in an age with just three television channels and a handful of radio stations; predating the creation of Ofcom; and taking no account of tighter child protection legislation over the last four decades. Read More... ( external link to www.gov.uk opens in a new window.)
Who requires a Child Performance Licence?
All children under compulsory school age (16yrs) that are taking part in a paid public performance (such as film, play or musical) or paid commercial work including (but not limited to) filming for broadcast, modelling assignments, TV and Radio advertisements and other promotional events. Any professional show in which an admission fee or other charge is made, any production which is being filmed, broadcast or recorded for public exhibition. Any performance paid or unpaid whereby absence from school is required will require a Child Performance Licence.
School and amateur performances are usually exempt from the licensing process.
In the case of Auditions/Casting wherever possible the production company should ensure these take place out of school hours however in cases where this is not possible and time off school is required for the child to attend a casting or an audition permission must be sought from the headmaster of the child's school and a written confirmation for authorised absence can often be accepted, in certain circumstances a performance licence maybe required but as no paid or public performance takes place at an audition process this is very much a grey area as far as production companies and LEAs are concerned. As an Agency Big Red Curtain Ltd. always trys to ensure any auditions arranged with production companies take place outside of school time but understand budget and schedule limitations can apply.
How Can I Apply for a Child Performance Licence?
The production company or agent will inform you that a child performance licence is required for the event or performance you are taking part in. The licence form differs from district to district by LEA (local education authority) and the application form should be downloaded according to which are (LEA) the child lives regardless of whether they attend school in this area.
The process of applying for a licence will usually include completing the relevant LEA Child Performance Licence application form which is usually in 3 sections (Barnsley LEA is 4):
Part 1 Will be provided and completed by the person who is organising the production eg. Production Company or Agent this will give details of the performance including the days that are required off school.
Part 2 To be completed by the parent/guardian of the child
Part 3 To be signed by the head teacher authorising time off school to do the performance. You should have the full application in front of you before signing so you know what you are signing for.
Note Most TV/Film performance licences will also require a Doctor's letter which is usually also required to confirm that the child is fit to work and ensure there are no health issues the production company should be aware of. In addition a health questionnaire can also be required to be filled out by the parent or guardian this is usually copied and sent to the production company as well as the LEA including a photographic headshot for Identification purposes.
Any completed forms should be returned with accompanied Doctors Letters to Big Red Curtain Ltd. as acting agents to then be forwarded to the relevant LEAs for any relevant production work we receive.
Types of Child Performance Licence
Standard Licenses are required for performances which run on specific days with a specific production company
Open Licenses / 6 month Licences are similar to standard licenses but can run for a set number of days, rather than specific days, over a 6 month period usually where dates can change or are currently unknown due to filming schedule constraints. They only apply to TV programmes and Films. The condition of these licences is that when the dates are known the school and the licensing authority are informed each day the child works. School only need to be informed when time off school is required.
Notes on Applying for a Standard or Open Licence
• Legislation recommends 21 days notice before a performance (NOTE this can vary from authority to authority, please check with them first), In exceptional circumstances they may be able to issue in less, please contact to confirm
• The production company are legally responsible for the application as they will be the employer.
• The Production Company will complete Part I and the Parent/Guardian complete Part II (plus a copy of: child's birth certificate, a photo (jpg) and either a medical letter from your GP (if filmed for broadcast) or a medical questionnaire (non-broadcast) and school letter (NOTE some authorities do not need the school letter as they contact the school on your behalf)
• Local Authority sends copies of the licence to: Production, School, Parent, and the Local Authority where the performance takes place (NOTE some authorities may also send copies to chaperones, tutors and agents).