Children and young people in performances or activities

The law says that children and young people taking part in public entertainment performances, both theatrical and broadcast performances, and activities such as working as a model or being involved in paid sport, must always be kept safe and properly cared for by an adult. In certain circumstances they will also need a child performance licence. This leaflet will tell you more about the law relating to children and young people taking part in performances and paid activities and what you should do to follow it.

Because the law is complex, this is not a complete guide and you should always seek advice from the Council if you are unsure about something.


The term ‘performance’ includes TV or film work, theatre, certain sporting activities and modelling. It also includes rehearsals. It does not include school assemblies, school choirs, school orchestras, sports teams or other productions that are supervised by teachers in the child’s school.

A child is classed as anyone from birth until the end of his or her last year of compulsory education. A child’s compulsory schooling finishes on the last Friday in June of the school year during which they have their 16th birthday, not on their 16th birthday.

When a licence is needed

Performance licences are necessary for individual children involved in theatrical productions, TV and film work, modelling assignments and paid sporting activities. A licence is required if:

  • The child is being paid for taking part
  • The child is required to be absent from school for either rehearsals or performances
  • The child has performed for four days in the previous six months, irrespective of whether or not a licence was required for the original performance.

In law, the producer in charge of the performance or, in certain circumstances, the casting agent is responsible for making sure that children and young people are properly licenced to rehearse or perform. Producers should work with a child’s parents to complete the application form and send it to the Council’s Learning Access Service at least 21 days before the first rehearsal or performance.

If you have any questions about child performance licences, or think your child might need one, in the first instance you should speak to the producer concerned.

If you need further information, or are unhappy with what the producer or a casting agency has told you, then you should contact us.

Even if a licence is not needed, producers need to ensure that children and young people are cared for appropriately throughout their involvement with the production or licensed activity.