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Duties of a matron / chaperone

Criteria for the role of chaperone.

General

The chaperone's first duty is to the child in their care; while they are acting as chaperone, they may not engage in any activity that would interfere with the performance of their duties. A chaperone is required and expected to act as a responsible guardian in place of the parents while the child is under their care, ie. 'in loco parentis' and the chaperone should exercise the care which a good parent might be reasonably expected to give that child.

It is a post of responsibility and trust and it must be realised that the welfare of the child employed in entertainments, especially while the child is on tour and so away from their own home and parents, depends largely on the chaperone, who is in a position to guard the child against exposure to possible hardship, inconvenience or moral danger. If the chaperone feels at any time that the conditions or expectations of the employer (including suitability of the script) are inappropriate, they should make their concerns known to the responsible local authority.

The precise duties of the chaperone while the child is at the place of performance will vary according to the nature of the performance. If the child is working in the theatre, the times when they are to be at the theatre and when they will be on stage are known in advance and must come within what is permitted by the Children (Performances and Activities) (Wales) Regulations 2015. The chaperone's main duties will be to ensure that, when the child is not actually performing (including the period in between performances if there are two performances on the same day and the child does not go home or back to their lodgings) they are properly supervised and have adequate meals, rest and recreation.

A child appearing in a film may be at the studios or place of location for much of the day. During the whole of this time the child is in the chaperone's charge except when having lessons, and it is for the chaperone to accompany the child from the dressing room or school room, to the set and take them back to the dressing room or school room, as well as remaining on the set while the child is there. The chaperone is required to keep a record of the times the child is on the set and the times the child rehearses and performs, so as to ensure that the periods permitted under the Regulations are not exceeded and the chaperone must also see that the child gets not less than the required number of breaks for rest and meals. The chaperone should make sure that the child has suitable opportunities for recreational activities and is protected from stress, strain, bad weather and any other conditions likely to harm them.

If a child is away from home, the chaperone is responsible for them throughout the currency of the licence. This includes seeing that their lodgings are satisfactory in every way; and that the child is properly occupied during their spare time; and in general the chaperone may need to exercise a greater amount of supervision than if they were living at home.

Licences

The chaperone must make themselves thoroughly familiar with the terms of the licences granted by the local authority and see that, as far as lies within their power, the conditions are properly fulfilled. They must take charge of all licences and birth certificates (if any) for safe custody and produce them for inspection when required by a duly authorised officer.

Health

No child should be allowed to perform when unwell. If a child falls ill or is injured while in the charge of the chaperone or teacher, a doctor should be called and the holder of the licence must immediately notify the parent named in the application form and the local authority. The child shall be withdrawn from the performance until a doctor has examined the child and confirmed that the child is fit to perform. If it proves necessary to send the child home, a proper escort must be provided.

So far as possible, the child should have an hour's exercise every day in the fresh air.

Extraneous duties of a chaperone

The chaperone must not undertake any duties, which will at any time separate them from the child, or will in any way interfere with the proper supervision of the child while in their care.

Supervision

Except while a child is actually performing or is in the charge of an approved teacher, the child must be under the supervision of the chaperone from the time of the child's arrival at the theatre until the child is handed over, at the end of the last performance, to the care of a parent or other authorised adult who will accompany the child to their home. See also 'chaperone to accompany children'.

The chaperone must see that all children under their charge undress, change and dress in their own dressing rooms.

Communications with children

All communications, written or otherwise, with children under the charge of the chaperone must be made through the medium of the chaperone.


The following additional duties apply when children are on tour:

Chaperone to accompany children

The child must be in the constant charge of the chaperone who must accompany the child at all times when the child is out on the streets. The chaperone must arrange to sleep in the house in which the child sleeps, near to the room occupied by the child. If unable to do this, another responsible adult should be appointed by the chaperone in consultation with the employer, to carry out this duty. The chaperone should in any event visit the house each day. 

Lodgings

Special care must be exercised by the chaperone to secure in advance adequate and comfortable lodgings for the child and to see that the local authority for the area approves the lodgings. Not more than two children should be allowed to sleep in a bed. Lodgings must be clean, light and well ventilated and situated so as to obviate any journey lasting longer than 45 minutes by the child to and from the theatre.

If the lodgings have not been selected by the chaperone, they should immediately on arrival, inspect them and report at once to the employer of the children if they consider them to be unsatisfactory in any respect. Each child should have a bath at least once a week.

Food

Arrangements should be made for clean and wholesome food to be supplied to the child at the lodgings. A glass of hot milk, cocoa, etc might well be provided for the child before they go to bed. The child's meals, when taken outside the lodgings, should be at the usual times, suitable and sufficient, with the chaperone or authorised supervisor.

Education

Except when the schools are closed, the child is required to make full time attendance at school each week unless otherwise provided for in the child's licence, or the child receives adequate instruction by an approved teacher, in which case a suitable room for the child's education must be provided. On arrival at each town, the child should be presented at school or to the approved teacher on Monday morning and the record books handed to the headteacher. The books should be collected on Friday afternoons or when leaving the town and, when doing so, the chaperone should satisfy themselves that the requisite entries have been made therein. The record books should be sent to the local authority licensing officer as soon as the employment of the child ceases.

Savings

The agreed sum to be saved by the child must be banked by the chaperone each week. The bank book should be retained by the chaperone until the tour ends, when the book should be returned to the employer. The child should not be allowed to withdraw any money, except in special circumstances approved by the local authority. Out of pocket expenses of the child for lodgings, meals etc should be kept separate and independent from the child's remuneration so that, whatever the child's remuneration may be, the board and lodging will be properly provided.

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