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What is a Chaperone?

A Chaperone (or Matron) is the title of the licenced  person appointed to protect, control and care for children whilst they are performing. To quote the law, they are acting in 'loco parentis and should exercise the care which a good parent might be reasonably expected to give that child'

There are several types of Chaperone:- Filming (on a film set), Theatre (backstage and rehearsals for a theatre), Touring (looking after a child 24 hours a day (except when being tutured), whilst the child is working away from home), Travelling (picking a child up from home and taking them to another Chaperone at their place of work), Tutor Chaperone (licenced Chaperone and licenced Tutor) and  Parent (chaperoning their own child only).


What are their responsibilities?

It is the chaperones responsibility to care for the children in a production, and to know where they are at all times, except when they are with their parents or a tutor. They can look after 12 children of the same sex at any one time, but most authorities prefer the chaperone to have less, usually around 8, (especially if the children are of mixed ages). They must not undertake any other duties that may take them away from the children in their care, at any time. When the children are finished working, the Chaperone must stay with the them until the parents, (or someone the chaperone has been notified about, in writing) turn up to collect them. The chaperone is only obliged to stay with the child for 30 minutes after the child has finished however, so may need to arrange for other care if they cannot stay. If working away for a period of time, the chaperone will need to arrange lodgings that will enable them to sleep in the room, next to the one in which the child in their care is staying.

As well as keeping the children comfortable and occupied between working periods, (a task enough in itself with bored children waiting around!), the chaperones are often required to monitor and record all the times that the children are working, having a break or having lessons. This documentation is for the children's licencing authority, so that they can satisfy themselves that the terms of their childs licence have been kept to. The chaperones will return these records to the keeper of the childs licence, who in turn will submit them to the childs LEA. The chaperone has a responsibility to ensure that the child has a licence (ask for a copy to be sure), and that all the licencing regulations are adhered to at all times. If there are any problems then they have to contact the childs LEA as soon as possible. They must therefore have the childs LEA listed amongst all the contacts that they should have: parents, doctor, tutor, production etc. This also means that whilst on the set, or in the theatre, it will be the job of the chaperone to argue or act as the intermediary with the director/producer if the child is working more than they are allowed, or if the conditions are not acceptable. They are not there for anyone other than the child(ren) in their care!

If you would like a copy of a performance Daily Record Sheet, visit the National Network for Child Employment and Entertainment site, which has a copy that you can print out, as well as information on the rules surrounding Chaperoning. www.buckscc.gov.uk/nncee/forms This form could be useful even if you are only a parent tryng to moniter the time your child is working....

How do I become a Chaperone?

Many parents find themselves drifting into the position of Chaperone, and end up applying for the licence needed. In fact, any responsible person, who enjoys working with children can become one! The best qualities needed will include, patience, resourcefulness, care and understanding of children, and knowledge of the rules and regulations surrounding their employment.

To become one, you will need to apply to your local LEA. They will send you an application form, which you will need to send back with references from 2 people, and an enhanced Criminal Records Buro (CRB) application form (or a copy of an existing check, if you have already got one). They may also ask for 2 passport photographs, and some will ask you to attend an interview. Please note that a simple police check is NOT enough.

It can take anything from 6-12 weeks until the licence comes through (depending on your CRB check). You cannot chaperone without it, and you will need to re-apply every year or two depending on your LEA (although your CRB certificate will be valid for 3 years).

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