Safeguarding in the performing arts

Last updated: 04 Sep 2018
What you need to do

If you’re organising or providing performing arts activities that involve children, you must prioritise their wellbeing. This includes:

  • making the environment as safe as possible for children and young people
  • ensuring children are properly supervised by the right people
  • following the relevant legislation and guidance for child performers.

What you need to do

Write a safeguarding policy

Make sure you have a safeguarding or child protection policy. This is a statement that makes it clear what your organisation or group will do to keep children safe.

Appoint a Designated safeguarding officer

A Designated safeguarding officer (DSO) is someone who has a lead role in making sure you’re taking all the necessary steps to safeguard children. 

Create a safe environment

Whatever setting your activities take place in there are a number of things you need to consider. Our resources can help you make the environment as safe as possible. 

Creating a safe environment

Creating a safe environment

Performing arts activities can take place in a variety of settings. But wherever you are, there are things you can do to make the environment as safe as possible. You should:

  • make sure rehearsal or teaching rooms are open, accessible and well lit
  • provide separate changing areas for children of each gender and for adults
  • follow health and safety legislation and guidance.

There are also lots of things you can do to make sure children feel comfortable. For example, you should make sure:

  • the activity is suitable for children to be involved in (for example no nudity, bad language or sexual content)
  • everything you do is appropriate for the youngest or most vulnerable person (this could be due to age or stage of the child’s development)
  • any physical contact is appropriate, justifiable, agreed by the child and approached sensitively.

You should also ask for children’s opinions and encourage them to speak out about anything that’s worrying them.

Working with audiences

If you perform to an audience, you also need to consider their wellbeing. Make sure your front of house team know what to do if:

  • a child is taken ill
  • a child in the audience gets lost or goes missing
  • they have a concern about a child’s wellbeing.

Working with parents

It’s important for parents and carers to be fully informed about:

  • the nature of the work you’re doing with their child
  • the young person’s role
  • the commitment required.

Keep parents up to date with the times of all lessons or rehearsals, especially if plans change. If possible, provide a space where parents can watch unobtrusively.

Supervision

Supervision

It’s vital that children are appropriately supervised at all times. You must make sure that the adults who work or volunteer with children are the right people to do so, and that you’ve carried out the necessary checks.

Working with parent supervisors

Parents may volunteer to help out with supervision. Unless they are supervising their own children, or have a private arrangement with another child’s parents, you need to carry out the same checks as for any other volunteer.

Recommended adult to child ratios

Performing arts activities can involve large numbers of children, so it’s important to make sure you have the right number of adults to supervise them.

> Read our recommended adult to child ratios for working with children

One-to-one sessions

One-to-one sessions

In some circumstances it might be appropriate for children to spend one-to-one time with an adult, for example during a music lesson or in a performing arts exam.

However this should only happen if absolutely necessary and you must take steps to ensure the child is comfortable.

  • Seek permission from the child and their parents before arranging one-to-one time. Let them know where you will be and how long for.
  • Make sure the room you are using is easily accessible, has windows and that curtains are open.
  • Give the child and their parents the option of having another trusted adult present.
  • If the child is taking a performing arts exam where they will have to be alone with an examiner, contact the exam board to check their safeguarding policy.
Chaperones

Chaperones

If a child is taking part in a performance and they won’t be supervised by their parent, school teacher or home tutor, they must be supervised by a chaperone. All chaperones need to be approved by their local council - whether they are paid or unpaid.

In the UK there is legislation and guidance which covers a chaperone’s role and responsibilities (Department for Education, 2015; Scottish Government, 2017; Scottish Government, 2018; Welsh Government, 2015).

Training and advice

Advice about employing chaperones
The National Network for Child Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE) also offers advice and guidance for those employing chaperones in England (NNCEE, 2016).

Training for chaperones
Our interactive elearning course Protecting children in the entertainment industry covers the key statutory guidance that chaperones in the entertainment industry need to know. The learning takes approximately 45 minutes and costs £20 per person.

Licensing

Licensing young performers

If a child under school leaving age is part of a performance, they may need a licence.

This includes children taking part in:

  • films, plays, amateur dramatics, concerts or any public performance that the audience pays to see
  • performances that take place on licensed premises
  • sporting events or modelling assignments where the child is paid.

The child’s local council can provide more information about this.

You must also make sure you follow the laws about employing children. 

Legislation and guidance

Legislation and guidance

Key legislation

Each UK nation has its own legislation about child performers.

In England, this is the Children (Performances and Activities) (England) Regulations 2014.

In Northern Ireland, it is the Children (Public Performances) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996.

In Scotland, it is the Children (Performances and Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2014.

In Wales, it is the Children (Performances and Activities) (Wales) Regulations 2015.

Across the UK, the law states that children who are taking part in a performance and who are not being supervised by their parent, school teacher or home tutor, must be supervised by a chaperone. The key legislation in each nation outlines the responsibilities of chaperones – whether or not they are being paid.

Our interactive elearning course Protecting children in the entertainment industry teaches chaperones in the entertainment sector all the key legislation they need to know.

Guidance

Most of the UK nations also provide guidance to help keep child performers safe.

England

In England, the Department for Education (DfE) provides advice for local authorities and individuals working with children in all types of professional or amateur performances, paid sport and paid modelling (DfE, 2015).

The National Network for Child Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE) has also produced a guide to child performance licensing in England (NNCEE, 2016).

Scotland

In Scotland, the Government has provided guidance for ensuring the wellbeing of children involved in performances and licensed activities (Scottish Government, 2018).

The Scottish Government has also produced a guide for parents and guardians whose children wish to perform on stage or screen, or take part in modelling activities (Scottish Government, 2017).

Wales

In Wales, the government provides guidance to accompany the 2015 child performance regulations (Welsh Government, 2015).

Keep up to date with new legislation and guidance by signing up to CASPAR, our current awareness service for policy, practice and research.

References

References

Department for Education (DfE) (2015) Departmental advice for local authorities and individuals working with children in all types of professional or amateur performances, paid sport and paid modelling (PDF). London: DfE.

National Network for Child Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE) (2016) A guide to child performance licensing in England (PDF) NNCEE. [Location unknown]: NNCEE.

Scottish Government (2017) Young performers: a guide for parents and guardians Edinburgh: Scottish Government.

Scottish Government (2018) Getting it right for young performers (PDF) [Accessed 24/08/2018].

Welsh Government (2015) Keeping young performers safe [Cardiff]: Welsh Government.

Legislation

The Children (Performances and Activities) (Wales) Regulations 2015

The Children (Performances and Activities) (England) Regulations 2014

The Children (Performances and Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2014

Children (Public Performances) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996

Further reading

For further reading about safeguarding in the performing arts, search the NSPCC Library catalogue using the keywords "child labour" "drama" "music".

If you need more specific information, please contact our Information Service.