Working Safely with Children and Young People at the QMT
One of the privileges of working at the QMT is that it is also the home to a great Juniors group (up to 13 years) and an inspiring youth theatre (14-20 years). However, if you want to have children and young people in your show there are rules about doing so. As you are probably aware there are strict safeguarding principles in place that govern the way adults in the Society should work with and behave towards children and young people.
So what are the rules?
Within schools and other educational establishments only adults with enhanced DBS clearance are allowed to work directly with students. In the QMT adults, who for the most part are not DBS checked, share the space with the children and young people who are part of the Juniors or Big Spirit. However the same rules about how we interact apply. It mustn’t be felt that just because we share a theatre that adults in the society can approach children and young people in a way that would not be allowed within a school setting.
- children and young people must be safe at all times in the theatre and will be monitored by appropriate adults who are charged with looking after them (for instance a named chaperone or someone who works with children and young people in the theatre).
- adults whether they are DBS checked or not should not contact young people by email or encourage young people to email them. This rule applies to contact via any social media platform as well.
- adults are not allowed to arrange to meet with young people from the theatre outside of the QMT setting, or to invite them into their homes for any reason.
- all children and young people in the theatre are given safeguarding training and have been asked to speak to a trusted adult if they are made to feel uncomfortable or put in a position where they think that the principles above have been breached.
If I can’t approach a child or young person, how do I cast my show that requires some children, for instance, to be in it?
It’s great to have children in a show but in order to do so you will need to approach either Claudia O’Connell for the Juniors or Rory or Katie from Big Spirit in the first instance and speak to them about the show and the roles you wish to fill. If they feel that it is appropriate they can arrange for children/young people to attend your auditions. Arrangements will also need to be made for chaperones during the audition process. A chaperone is a suitably qualified person whose only role is to look after the children/young people in their care (so they can’t be on the audition panel or be down to audition themselves, for example).
Can children and young people rehearse onstage with adults?
Yes of course they can! Again there will be a chaperone in attendance and they will sit with the children/YP when they are not onstage.
Can children and young people appear in a weeks run of a show?
For children the answer is probably no – so you will need to do what they do in the West End and cast two children to each role. A child actor can appear onstage only 3 nights within a given week. For young people above the age of 16 years – this rule does not apply. However they still need chaperoning until they are aged 18 years.
If I need to rehearse separately with a child or young person – can I do that?
Absolutely – as long as the nominated chaperone is always present.
What arrangements do I need to make for cast dressing rooms during the show?
The rule is that children and YP must never share a dressing room with an adult. We usually make the Youth Wing available as a separate dressing room for those under 18 years of age. On the whole you as a director don’t need do anything – the staff at the theatre will do this for you.
I like to rehearse until 10pm – are there rules about how late children and young people can stay?
Yes there are. Young people need their sleep and I’m sure you can understand that keeping a child in a rehearsal until late into the evening isn’t acceptable. Think about starting your rehearsals earlier (say 7pm) and let the kids finish before 8.30pm. Older children and young people you will need to negotiate with parents as to what is a reasonable time to let them go. Be aware – parents are quick to complain if you keep a child in rehearsal after the time they arrive to pick them up.
Anything else I need to know?
Just a couple of things. We want children and young people to be a part of the whole company so the rules do allow for the cast to chat away together including the youngsters during rehearsals. During the run the young people are welcome to go into the Green Room with the rest of the cast to enjoy their break as long as the chaperone is present.
It goes without saying I hope that children and young people should never be asked intimate or personal questions, be exposed to inappropriate material and the language used should always respect their age.