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NSPCC: Essential guidance for chaperones

A new interactive course for those responsible for the welfare of children in entertainment covers vital topics surrounding quality care provision

Opportunities for children to perform on stage and screen have never been greater or more varied – especially in pantomime season. But in the fast-changing modern production environment, the challenges of protecting children have also become more acute.

Increasingly, responsibility for safeguarding young performers is falling to chaperones, who play a pivotal role in the well-being of children in their care. But with regulations concerning the safeguarding of child performers left to the discretion of local authorities, chaperones often face a degree of unnecessary uncertainty about their role and their responsibilities.

The UK’s leading children’s charity, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), has launched an online course to help. It’s aimed at licensed chaperones but available to anyone responsible for children working in professional or amateur entertainment industries – such as dance schools, amateur dramatics, choirs, production companies and professional theatres.

Produced in association with the National Network for Children in Employment and Entertainment and the BBC, the interactive Protecting Children in Entertainment course is designed to inform chaperones about legal guidelines and welfare issues and to help establish a national standard for the industry.

“There’s a huge discrepancy in the guidelines, rules and training for chaperones. It’s not an ideal situation for anyone: children, parents, employers or chaperones,” says NSPCC Learning’s Helen Munn, head of e-learning.

Which is why, she adds, the NSPCC and its partners have launched the new e-learning course. “It’s designed to ensure that there is a level of training to an adequate, nationwide standard across every entertainment medium children find themselves working in. Although it’s intended for local authority-licensed chaperones, anyone in the professional and amateur sectors can access it.”

Available on all major browsers and on iPads and other tablet devices, the 45-minute course costs just £20, with discounts available for multiple purchases by employers. Essential topics include recognising, responding to and recording safety and welfare concerns.

Including film clips, audio recordings, teaching pages, tasks and interactive learning activities and quizzes, it takes users through a number of interactive case studies, introducing them to workplace and welfare issues while also testing their understanding of a chaperone’s responsibilities. Although the course doesn’t provide accreditation, on completion users receive a personalised certificate to show to potential employers.

Launched in July, the course can be completed in one sitting or users can pause, save and return to where they left off at a more convenient time. It’s accessible for one year after the point of purchase.

Placing emphasis on the four ‘r’s – recognise, respond, report, record – the case studies’ real-world scenarios encourage chaperones to be fully engaged at every stage of the production process, introduce them to their responsibilities and offer advice on how to deal with a variety of situations in the workplace.

Karen Childs Smith, head of the NSPCC’s knowledge and information service, says the course “provides adults with the knowledge and skills to make them feel comfortable looking after the needs of children in their care. Chaperones who take this course will be able to demonstrate to their relevant licensing body that they are fully equipped to take care of children in busy entertainment settings.”

For any adult working with or caring for children in the entertainment industry, professional or amateur, whether in dance schools, amateur dramatics, choirs, production companies, television, film or professional theatres, the course is an essential, affordable introduction to providing the best level of care and protection for young performers.


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