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Children in Entertainment


​Another festive season is fast approaching and along with this the tradition of Pantomimes which remains as popular as ever. October to January is a very busy period for Essex County Council's Child Employment Team who, over this period, experience an increase in licence applications for children to perform in Pantomimes both locally and all over the country. 

Some of the days that children perform will also require them to be absent from school and often Headteachers will contact the Child Employment Team for guidance in this matter. To support schools with this we have taken the following extract from the guidance document that covers this in length and trust that this will also explain the legislative requirements that local authorities must follow when making the decision whether to issue a licence or not.

The legislation that governs absence from school to take part in a Performance, Activity or paid sporting event are:

Children and Young Persons Act 1963 s 37(4) and 37(7)

The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 Reg.7

Section 37(4) of the 1963 Act states that a local authority shall not grant a licence for a child to do anything unless they are satisfied his education will not suffer. 

Section 37(7) of the 1963 Act states a licence shall specify the times during which the child may be absent from school for the purposes authorised by the licence and for those times specified the absence shall be deemed to be authorised by a person authorised in that behalf by the managers, governors or proprietor of the school.

This is further clarified by Department for Education advice 3.2.1 which states: In accordance with section 37(7) of the 1963 Act, where a licence is issued and it specifies the dates that a child is to be away from school to perform then the child's absence from school is deemed to have been granted such that permission is not needed from the school.

There are a number of working practices currently in operation across the country to determine whether a child can be absent from school to take part in a performance. The licensing authority must be sure that the child's education will not suffer before issuing a licence and the child's school would be best placed to advise them on that issue.

However, when giving advice the school must look at the individual child. They cannot adopt a generic policy, for example: 'It is this school's policy not to allowed time off for performances' 'If attendance has fallen to 94% we will not allow any further absence' 'School does not consider taking part in a performance as an 'exceptional circumstance''

They must look at the individual child in terms of attainment and attendance and if they believe the child's education will suffer they must provide written evidence to that effect e.g. slipping grades, missing homework, inability to catch up on work, additional support currently in place.

The licensing authority will make a decision, based on this evidence, whether to refuse to issue a licence.

Licensing authorities should bear in mind that section 37(4) states that if they are satisfied the child's education will not suffer they shall not refuse to grant a licence. Therefore, if the school cannot provide evidence or the local authority is not convinced by their evidence or objections they must issue a licence, if they are satisfied with all other aspects of the application.  ​


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