Children in employment and entertainment
The service and responsibilities of a chaperone
Children in entertainment must be in the care of either their parent, the children's legal guardian or an approved chaperone at all times.
A chaperone should:
- not engage in any activity that would interfere with the performance of the child's duties., for example, producer or crew. Remember, you are in loco parentis (in place of a parent.)
- be responsible with the licence holder to ensure that the Regulations (and any extra conditions or proviso placed on the licence by the child’s licensing authority or inspecting local authority) are upheld at all times. You may find yourself under pressure, by the production company to relax the regulations due to re-scheduling, for example; but you must remember that your first duty is to the care of the child.
- object if ‘things aren’t right’ to something the production is asking of the child, you are not ‘creating a fuss’. The reasons and expectations behind your local authority issuing you with a chaperone approval are to care for and protect the child in the adult world of performing. If the production is paying you, you may fear that if you object the ‘company’ will not employ you again? We are aware that this can be a real fear but it should, on no account, override your main responsibility, which is to the child/children in your care, not the production.
- be with the child at all times whether: on set, stage, dressing rooms, recreation, meal and break areas. You are the key person to whom the child looks for protection, clarification and support. You play an important part in the child’s happy performing experience. If the facilities are ‘wanting’ you should negotiate better facilities with the production. Children are not ‘add on's to a production their care is paramount at all times.
- not exceed the maximum number of 12 children in your care as per legal requirements.
- consider the maximum length of time for travelling. Although is not laid down in the regulations, is given to the child’s: age, the length of time at the place of performance and the duration of the production. The production company must make suitable arrangements to get the child home, or to any other destination after the last performance or rehearsal, or the conclusion of any activity on any day.
- ensure that if the child is sick or injured while in your care that medical help is sought and inform the parent/guardian and the licensing local authority immediately. Always have a contact number for parents/carers. Report any illness or injury and log it with production and keep it with the child's records.
- ensure that any dangerous performances are authorised before a licence is issued. If you think a performance is dangerous or not stated on the child’s licence, you should stop it immediately.
- have the child’s licence available at the place of performance (or any place of rehearsal) for an authorised officer of the Host Local authority or a constable. They should not be at head office or any other location but at the physical place where the child is performing. As per schedule 3.
- during recording, ensure that the production collects the child's license from you daily and does not delegate the task to the chaperone or if the child is being tutored to the tutor for educational hours so that they are always available to the local authority.
The law states that the Chaperone is acting in loco parentis (in the place of the parent) and should exercise the same care which a good parent might be reasonably expected to give that child.
- health and safety issues on stage or on set. For example, smoking policy, electrical equipment such as sound equipment and cameras can all be very dangerous, you should not allow a children to ‘fool around’.
- monitoring tuition hours. The child may not be in school but that doesn’t mean the hours they receive tutoring are less important than those spent at school (3 hours maximum tutoring required on a school day). Be alert do not ‘under or over educate’.
- keeping a child engaged. The concentration span of a child is far shorter than that of adults (depending on age). You need the skills to keep a child busy or enabling them to keep themselves busy, during their non-performance and non-tutoring time. This is important during filming and when on location and may include physical activities or it may be that the child should rest and quietly read a book.
- being aware of bullying as it can be very subtle. It may be easy to spot a physical fight or sideways kick but it’s not quite as easy to spot the odd word or joke directed, even if innocently, towards a child. This sort of behaviour should be ‘nipped in the bud’ immediately as otherwise it could affect both the child and the production.
- ensuring that all production staff, actors, cast, crew and chaperones (including dressers and makeup) are mindful of their conduct around children. Any unnecessary physical contact should be avoided, as it could be misconstrued, either by the child themselves or by others. Be sensible, you should never leave a child alone with other adults or put yourself in a vulnerable position.
The following is a handy checklist for chaperones:
- Licenses: you should check that all the children in your care have a license.
- When on-site, you should request the name of the person responsible for child protection. If there are safeguarding issues you should always make a report to the child's local authority and the host local authority.
- Request a schedule or call sheet for the day. This will cover such areas as first aid, health and safety, risk assessment and more.
- Ask questions such as: when are the meal breaks and the expected time finishing time.
- Always carry the contact numbers for the parents or carers whose children you are chaperoning. Production contact numbers may also be useful.
- Health and safety: do you consider the child’s working environment is safe? If not you need to take action by discussing your concerns with the production team. Never allow a child to start or continue performing if you have such concerns.
- Are you satisfied with what the child is being asked to do (language, inappropriate actions, for example)? If not, stop and discuss the matter. Don’t put a child at risk. Talk with either the host local authority or the licensing local authority.
The following are regulations for all performances.
The Act applies to performances, but not to rehearsals. Rehearsals are however affected by the Regulations. If they take place during the currency of a licence (between first and last performing day) they are subject to the same restrictions and conditions applicable to that licence, time at the place of performance, performing times, and so forth.
Education (Regulation 10)
A child must be educated on all school days which he/she would normally be expected to attend school. Not less than 3 hours per day (minimum tutor time 30 minutes) between the hours at which the child is permitted at the place of performance; though it is not recommended to tutor into the evening or night (productions should contact child’s local authority to discuss this first).
Education must take place within the maximum hours permitted at the place of performance (not in addition) for the child’s age.
A tutor may only teach a maximum of 6 children of differing levels at the same time. If the children are at the same level they may teach up to 12 children. Therefore, if you are concerned that the ratio is wrong/not working out check with the child’s licensing local authority.
Tutors should liaise closely with the child’s school, especially where long absences from school are scheduled.
Again if you are a chaperone or tutor and have any concerns about tutoring contact the licensing or host local authority.
- the chaperone is satisfied that serious dislocation of schedules (outside the control of the production and not planned for in their schedule) resulted in the child being requested to work beyond the allotted time stated on the licence
- and the chaperone is also satisfied that the child’s welfare would not suffer
The chaperone may permit the child to continue for a further one hour. This is providing that the total performance time is not exceeded for a child of that age.
When any such exception is made it is the chaperones responsibility to notify the child’s Licensing Local authority and Host local authority on the day or the following day the decision to make an exception was made.
Education aggregating hours
Educational hours may be aggregated during each complete period of 4 weeks (or performance periods exceeding 1 week) as long as the child receives not less than 6 hours of tuition per week and for not more than 5 hours per day during the permitted time allowed for a child of that age to be present at a place of performance, for example:
- 5 school days performing: 3 hours x 5 days = 15 hours x 4 weeks = 60 hours tuition required over 4 week period.
Children should not be:
- allowed to lose educational hours due to long productions/heavy scheduling
- educated at weekends or during school holidays, only on days in which they would normally be at school.
Productions and tutors should be mindful of losing and exceeding education hours.
The daily hours should never be lost or exceeded to try and ‘catch up’ towards the end of a run when aggregating hours. This can often result in an excessive amount of education being imposed on the child (or lost) due to bad production scheduling.
All should be mindful of the child’s welfare and education. Productions don’t ask adults to perform, rehearse, dress/make-up, travel, plus intense hours of education, so why expect children to?
Night work (indoors or out)
Local authorities may also allow working after the latest and earliest time at which a child is permitted at the place of performance only if they are satisfied that it is impracticable to complete the work after and before these prescribed times. This may now include legitimate access to venues but not just for the production’s convenience.
Points to remember:
- any performing which takes place after midnight counts as part of the performing time allowed on the previous day
- the child must also have a break of at least 16 hours before he/she returns to the place of performance after night work
- if he/she does night work on 2 consecutive nights he/she cannot do any further night work for at least another week (7 days)
- night work must be agreed upon in advance and the local authority is not bound to permit night work even if they are satisfied that the child’s appearance is necessary if it may cause any harm to the child’s welfare, health or education
- hours outside those permitted for a child of that age would be considered as night work. This now applies to all types of performance, broadcast and non-broadcast.
A child resident in England will be licensed under the 2014 regulation and will perform under that regulation even if they are working in localities outside England but within other parts of the UK.
Wales, Scotland, Ireland regulations are different to the English regulations. Check with these regions first.
The following are Child Protection issues that could arise and need action:
- If a child discloses that he/she is being harmed in some way listen to the child, reassure them. Take what they tell you seriously: children rarely tell lies about such matters. Explain that you can’t keep the information secret, but you must pass it on to others who are in a position to help to stop the abuse. Don’t interrogate the child and be careful not to ask leading questions. Try to convey to the child that they are not to blame for what has happened, though at the same time avoiding criticising the abuser. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep, but tell the child what you are going to do.
- If you are concerned over a child find out, through your production contact, whether they have a nominated staff member for child protection. This person may not be present at the location, but the production should have someone in this role within their organisation. You should discuss your concerns with them without delay. If not, seek advice from First Response 01296 383962. If you believe a child to be in immediate danger contact the Police.
- Serious concerns need to be recorded. Always make a clear, written account of any Child Protection concerns you may have to make sure that you identify the child giving full name, date of birth and home address. As far as possible, record the actual words used by the child. Keep this, together with any other notes you may have made, in a secure place.
- If an allegation is made against an adult, full co-operation will be sought from those in charge, the individual concerned and the licensing authority. In the case of serious allegation’s, it will be necessary to suspend the individual immediately until the investigation is concluded. It may also be appropriate to exclude that individual from the theatre, rehearsal room, location, film set or ensure they do not have unsupervised contact with children. The child should not be removed unless the situation is such that, in the child’s best interest, he/she needs or wants to be returned home.
What should I do to make sure no false allegations are made about me?
Every adult working with children on a one-to-one basis is vulnerable to accusations.
- Be careful about touching children, always seek their permission first, and never touch the chest area or the legs.
- Outside your chaperone role never make arrangements to meet a child on their own without their parents’ permission.
- Do not exchange e-mails or text messages or mobile phone numbers with them.
- Avoid being over-familiar, as this can easily be misinterpreted by a young person. This also applies to production staff, such as directors, producers, actors, and dressers.