Department for Education grants BBE national Child Performance Licensing BOPA

Brass Bands England (BBE) is pleased to announce that the Department for Education has awarded a national Body of Persons Approval (BOPA) for BBE and member organisations.

As members of BBE, bands will have approval for performances in England between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020 on an event by event basis. This means that all children performing under a BOPA are exempt from needing individual licences. BBE will support members with DBS checks, safeguarding advice and training developed in collaboration with the NSPCC. 

The BBE-held BOPA sits entirely within the legislation for BOPAs where the secretary of state has issued the BOPA to BBE which can be used by its members. BBE will grant the permission to make use of the BOPA on an event by event basis. To lower the administrative burden for band to receive permission to use the BBE-held BOPA, Brass Bands England have developed an online application process.     

Heralding this as a “very significant step forward for BBE member bands,” the body’s Chair, Mike Kilroy, also stated: “In addition to relieving bands of hundreds of hours of potentially frustrating administration every year and, no doubt, more than a few sleepless nights for band managers, this new system will also provide further foundations for advancement in bands’ general organisation, as well as a free marketing opportunity. We would like to thank the Department for Education for their co-operation in developing this process with us and for the confidence it has shown in BBE’s approach to the rather thorny subject of Child Performance Licensing over the past 12 months.”

From 1 July, BBE member bands, Associations and Events will also be able to cover their own events under a BOPA without the need to apply to the local authority for a BOPA directly. This provides bands with a consistent application process across England. This exemption is not applicable if a child performer is being paid, or if children will be absent from school. In discussions with the Department for Education, BBE has raised some of the issues faced by bands and, as a result, BBE has put measures in place to support bands in using the BBE- held BOPA via the new online application process.

Where a performance is taking place under the auspices of a BOPA, the legislation does not require that the child be supervised by a chaperone approved by the local authority. Supervising adults can play in the band provided they have care and control of the child; and safeguard, support and promote the wellbeing of the child. A Supervising Adults's first priority is always to the child’s best interest and wellbeing. 

As part of the online application process bands will not be asked to pass data to BBE about the participants other than the total number taking part, although bands will still be required to hold emergency contact and medical information themselves along with photographic consent. Bands will still be required to ensure that the children performing are otherwise complying with the Children (Performances and Activities) (England) Regulations 2014 with respect to the total time children spend at a place of performance, performing and on breaks and meals. In most cases this wont affect band activities but information on the requirements can be found at bbe.org.uk/bopa.

Said BBE Chief Executive Officer, Kenneth Crookston: “To use the BOPA, bands will be required to demonstrate that they have good safeguarding measures in place by attending a BBE/NSPCC-developed training course, although these should already be implemented if they work with young people, regardless of any CPL requirements. Comprehensive advice on this is available to all BBE members from Education and Development Co-ordinator, Sarah Stanley, and Partnership and Development Manager, Alex Parker, whose work on safeguarding over recent months has been recognised by a number of national bodies for its high quality and far-reaching impact.”

When the BOPA takes effect, bands will be able to apply for the use of the BOPA directly from www.bbe.org.uk via the online application process found in the members dashboard. To get started, bands will need to click on the BOPA tile in their membership dashboard. In addition to requiring an up-to-date safeguarding policy and TWO BandSafe-trained members, bands will need to confirm that they meet the conditions of the BOPA by, for example, having the correct ratio of supervising adults to children at the event. Indicating the number of children taking part in each event by this method means that bands will no longer need to submit large amounts of data or wait for information to be processed by local authorities.
As a bonus, when bands apply for the use of the BBE-held BOPA, there will be the opportunity to create an event advert listing free-of-charge on the BBE events page, thus turning an administrative exercise into an advertising opportunity!

In addition to administering the BBE-held BOPA system, the Department of Education has instructed BBE to carry out spot checks on events. Local authorities may still inspect events but BBE inspections will be used to help bands ensure they are meeting expectations. This also means that BBE can support bands with specialist knowledge in their safeguarding activities during inspections. This system will come with significant administrative costs for BBE, though inspection and administration of the BBE-held BOPA will be included in the cost of bands’ membership.

In order to allow greater access to the BOPA, BBE will be taking the BandSafe training on a roadshow across the country over the next few months to offer training to all member bands at a cost of £60 per delegate. Full details of these events will be confirmed in the next few weeks but, following the success of the BandSafe launch event in Crawley in April, the first official BandSafe seminar will take place on Sunday 9 June at Birmingham Conservatoire. 

BandSafe training is valid for two years and those completing the course will receive documentation and identification to assist them in carrying out their role within their bands during that time. To book onto a BandSafe training course, visit www.bbe.org.uk/events to find a session near you. If your band is interested in hosting a training session, please contact info@bbe.org.uk. Information on how to join Brass Bands England and details of the organisation’s services can be found at www.bbe.org.uk or by calling the National Office on 01226 771015.