The role of the chaperone and how to become one
Please be aware paper application received after Monday 14 October will not be processed. Please complete the online application form.
Children who take part in public performances or entertainment under a licence issued by the local authority must be supervised by an approved chaperone – unless they are in the care of their parent or an agreed tutor.
The role of the chaperone is to protect the child’s health, safety and welfare while they are where the performance is taking place.
Approved chaperones are essential to make sure that proper provision is made to secure a child’s health, safety and welfare while they are where the performance is taking place.
Chaperones are required to undergo an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check as part of the approval process. There is a cost of £45 for this check and this will be invoiced to paid chaperones.
People who want to work as a chaperone for children involved in entertainment must be approved by the local authority. Licences are issued for two years.
The service is for people who want to apply for the first time to become a chaperone and people who want to renew their existing chaperone licence.
Chaperones will be contacted about completing a short training session relating to the role.
It is essential that chaperones are properly advised and understand their duties and responsibilities because of the varying nature of their role.
A chaperone’s first duty is to look after the children in their care and they must not undertake any activity that would interfere with the performance of this duty. Except when a child is in the care of a tutor, a chaperone is ‘in loco parentis’ and is required to exercise the care that a good parent might reasonably be expected to give a child.
Chaperones have the responsibility of care for children in entertainment and the nature of a chaperone’s role is that he or she is in a position of trust regarding those children. Abuse of a position of trust in respect of young persons under the age of 18 is considered an offence, and under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 would include sexual activity with or in the presence of a child, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity or watch a sexual act.
The regulations are designed wholly to protect the child’s welfare and to prevent a child being exploited. Chaperones must familiarise themselves with these restrictions, especially where they have specific relevance to their role.
The law says that the maximum number of children an individual chaperone may supervise is twelve. However, the local authority may consider that due to the demands of the performance, the ages, gender of the children, or a combination of both, that the chaperone would only be able to effectively supervise a smaller number.
Boys and girls from the age of 5 must be in separate changing rooms. There would have to be at least two chaperones on duty. Chaperones must remain with the children all of the time. It is only when they are on stage or performing that chaperones are not required to be by their side.
Chaperones should possess firm negotiating skills. Occasionally production companies may try to exploit a child in order to facilitate their schedule. Chaperones have the power to withdraw a child from a performance if they have good reason and should have the confidence to do so when it is in the interest of the child.
The chaperone must keep daily records of the children at the place of performance. There should be emergency contact numbers available.
Any significant incident or accident must be fully recorded. The parent and the local authority must be informed at the earliest opportunity. The records must be available for examination on request.
A child should not be allowed to perform when unwell. The chaperone must put the needs of the child first. They have the responsibility to refuse to accept a sick child who arrives for a performance.
Qualified first-aiders should be on hand in all entertainment establishments. Chaperones should establish where the first-aid kit and accident book are located.
The chaperone should become familiar with the procedures for evacuating the building in case of fire and the escape routes from whatever rooms the children are using.
A chaperone is required to ensure that suitable travel arrangements are in place for each child under their control. They are also required to ensure that the person previously agreed collects the child.
The local authority officers are empowered to enter any premises where a performance or entertainment is being performed by children, without prior notice, to establish that the children are being properly supervised and cared for. They have the authority to withdraw the children from the performance, to rescind the chaperone’s approval, or both.
There is full guidance for licence holders and chaperones in our Information for Chaperones and Licence Holders document.
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