Christmas party season will shortly be upon us and a huge part of the festivities for children is the annual Christmas party. Parties take place at school, church, and a whole host of other venues over the month, and for adults who don’t want to organise the whole event themselves, the obvious solution is to hire a professional children’s entertainer. There are lots of common misconceptions about children's entertainers, particularly around the question of whether a DBS check is required for these performers. If you’re planning on organising a children’s party for your local school or Brownie group, here is everything you need to know about the law around children’s entertainers and DBS checks.
Can A Children’s Entertainer be DBS Checked?
There is no straight answer to this apparently simple question. A basic DBS check is indeed open to everyone, including people who are self-employed children’s entertainers. However, a basic DBS check is only a statement of someone’s current criminal record and will not show the higher level of detail on the type of DBS certificate which would be required for a sports coach, teacher, or nursery worker. Some children’s entertainers may have an enhanced disclosure check for other work, especially if they work mainly as a dance teacher or swimming coach and only do parties as a side line. Entertainers are used to being asked about criminal records checking and will not be offended by potential customers asking about their background.
The other issue is around the regularity of the contact with groups of children. The law says that people must be working with children once a week on average to require a DBS check. So, someone going into school every week to help with reading would require a DBS check, but a parent helping out on a school trip would not. Many entertainers are not doing parties every week, and therefore don’t fall into this bracket either. Standard and enhanced checks are not available to individuals, so entertainers need to be a member of a relevant professional body to be able to access this level of DBS check.
From the organiser’s point of view, a DBS check is just part of safeguarding when dealing with groups of children. A good party entertainer, knowing that they are not DBS checked and that this may raise concerns, may ask that one of the parents or organisers of the event remains in the room at all times. This means that the entertainer will never be on their own with children. Look on their website for safeguarding policies and a general awareness of the issue for a children’s entertainer. It is also the job of whoever is organising the event to make sure that the entertainer is not asked to babysit or take charge of groups of children. In a school setting, teachers or other fully checked members of staff typically stay with their classes while this sort of event is taking place. Finally, the best way of getting a trusted and competent entertainer is to use word of mouth recommendation rather than an internet search.