Safeguarding in the performing arts Advice on keeping children safe in music, drama, dance, television and theatre

Group of children enjoying drama classIf 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.

We’ve put together some resources to help.


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. 

Read our advice

Appoint a DSO

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.


Role description for a DSO (PDF)

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. These include:
  • 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:
  • ensure the activity is suitable for children to be involved in (for example no nudity, bad language or sexual content)
  • if you’re working with mixed age groups, make sure 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)
  • make sure any physical contact is appropriate, justifiable, agreed by the child and approached sensitively
  • ask for children’s opinions and encourage them to speak out about anything that’s worrying them.

Protecting children in entertainment

Interactive online course on how to protect children during rehearsals and productions.

Find out more

Audience members

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; or
  • 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; and
  • 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.

Photos and images

If you want to take photos or videos of children during your activity, you must be aware of child protection and safeguarding issues.

Read our advice

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.

Parents

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

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

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.

The Governments of each UK nation have produced legislation and guidance which covers a chaperone’s role and responsibilities.

The National Network for Child Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE) also offers a range of advice and guidance for those employing chaperones in England and Wales.

Protecting children in entertainment

Interactive online course on how to protect children during rehearsals and productions.

Find out more

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; and
  • 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

Each UK nation has its own legislation and guidance for child performers.

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

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

Child performance and activities licensing legislation in England 

Departmental advice for local authorities and individuals working with children in all types of professional or amateur performances, paid sport and paid modelling 

Department for Education (DfE), 2015

Download Child performance and activities licensing legislation in England (PDF)

A guide to child performance licensing in England

National Network for Child Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE), 2016

Download A Guide to Child Performance Licensing (PDF)

Children (Public Performances) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996

View Children (Public Performances) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996

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

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

 

Young performers: a guide for parents and guardians

A guide aimed at parents and guardians of children wishing to perform on stage or screen, or take part in sporting or modelling activities.

Scottish Government, 2017

View Young performers: a guide for parents and guardians

Getting it right for young performers

Guidance on the revised arrangements for ensuring the wellbeing of children involved in performances and licensed activities.

Scottish Government

Download Getting it right for young performers (PDF)

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

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

Keeping young performers safe

Guidance to accompany the 2015 child performance regulations

Welsh Government, 2015

Download Keeping young performers safe (PDF)

Related resources

Safeguarding tool

Our free online tool for organisations working with children and young people provides checklists and resources to help you safeguard children.

Access the tool

Safeguarding deaf and disabled children

How organisations can protect deaf and disabled children from abuse and neglect.
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Keeping children and young people safe in the voluntary and community sector

Safeguarding resources and support for the voluntary and community sector organisations.
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Training and consultancy

Grow your child protection knowledge and skills with CPD certified courses delivered by our experts nationwide and online.
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