Report concerns

Child Performance

Why is there legislation and regulations in place around child performance?

The legislation exists in order to protect the welfare of children and young people who take part in performances and to ensure they are protected from exploitation. The laws and regulations place a duty on Local Authorities to ensure the health, welfare and kind treatment of children involved in the entertainment industry and also to issue licences permitting their participation in such activities and performances.

There is a person or department responsible for child entertainment each Local Authority. They are responsible for issuing child performance licences, BOPA's, chaperone approvals and also ensuring that the conditions of these licenses are met and adhered to.

When does a child need a performance licence? 

The law in relation to children in entertainment and performance licences applies to all children from birth until they reach compulsary school leaving age. In England,this is the last Friday in June of the school year when the child reaches the age of 16 and finishes Year 11 at school. In Scotland this depends if the child turns 16 between 1st March and 30th September they can leave school after 31st May of that year and if they turn 16 between 1st October and the end of February they can leave at the start of the Christmas holidays in that school year.

The application has to be made to the Local Authority where the child lives, not where the performance is taking place (unless the performance is covered by a BOPA). 

Do all performances need to be licensed? 

Licences are needed for performances where:

  • the child is being paid
  • they are taking place at a licensed premises or at a registered club
  • the performance is to be broadcast or recorded by whatever means with a view to its use in a future broadcast or film intended for public exhibition.
  • the child requires time off school in order to perform

What type of performances need to be licensed? 

  • a child is employed for modelling; photographic or catwalk
  • a child is performing on stage or for television, film, commercials, radio, voiceovers etc.
    • this includes dance and drama school shows, music hub/music service performances, festivals
  • a child is taking part in paid/professional sport

Is a performance licence needed for school performances? 

No. Schools do not need to apply for performance licences when holding a school play/concert etc. However, if the child is involved in commercial work outside of normal school activities a licence will be required, even if the performance is being held at their school.

Which legislation does the licensing requirement come from? 

The Children and Young Persons Act 1963 (Section 37) Restriction on persons under 16 taking part in public performances.

This includes children who have attained age 16 during the academic year i.e. are still of compulsory school age.

(1) This subsection means that children of compulsory school age and below cannot take part in a performance , paid sport or work as a model when they are being paid (other than out of pocket expenses) without a performance licence. The licence is to be issued by the local authority where the child resides. If the child does not reside in Great Britain then the licence should be issued by the local authority where the licence applicant resides or has his place of business.

(2) This subsection states the types of performances which require a licence. This includes:

(a) any performance in connection with which a charge is made (whether for admission or otherwise);

(b) any performance in licenced premises within the meaning of the Licensing Act [1964] or the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1959 or in premises in respect of which a club is registered under said Act of 1959 or the Licensing Act [1964];

(c) any broadcasting performance;

(d) any performance not falling within paragraph (c) above but included in a programme service (within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990);

(e) any performance recorded (by whatever means) with a view to its use in a broadcast or such service or in a film intended for public exhibition;

Department for Education advice 1.1.1 states the following types of performances would be included in the above:

(c) Any broadcast performance to include internet streaming

(e) Any performance recorded (by whatever means) with a view to its use in a broadcast or such service or in a film intended for public exhibition. For example a live stage performance recorded for a cinema screening, a feature film, a video or sound recording of a performance on a website. (Note that this does not extend to user generated content, e.g. where young people or a family record themselves and share it on a website or social media); and also when children take part in sport or modelling for which payment is made (to the child or to someone else in respect of the child taking part) other than expenses.


For further guidance on the Performance Regulations please see the "A Guide to Child Performance Licensing" in the Downloads. 

In order to apply for a Child Performance Licence the standard form shown in Downloads should be completed and returned to the child's home Local Authority together with the necessary supporting documents. 


Child Performance Standard Application Form
NNCEE A Guide to Child Performance Licensing August 2020
NNCEE Child Performance Regulations Table