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Licensed Chaperones

Comment 15th July 2010

Teachers with an enhanced CRB check should be allowed to chaperone children backstage without having to become a licensed chaperone. At induction in their schools, teachers undergo child abuse training no different to what takes placeo n a licensing course and they schools that they work in have policies they follow. They should not then have to undergo further training for what amounts to the same thing and have to have another enhanced CRB check done with the SAME county (but a different department) in order to go backstage with the same children they teach. It is an insult to their integrity and the training they have done as teachers. It is ridiculous that they are allowed to watch children in their classes change for dance, swimming and P.E. and yet the minute thay want to take the same children  backstage they have to have a different qualification in order to be allowed to be in charge of them (this included my own daughter by the way!).

There is too much discrepancy between counties.WSCC only offer training, which is voluntary, in working hours during the week so parents have to take time off work in order to do the course. As a result fewer and fewer voluntary chaperones exist and it is costly to hire them and the focus of the show becomes the admin and backstage and not on the production – as a result more and more groups are packing in and defeating the whole purpose of what they were about, which is for the children. It is too stressful. WSCC offer one hour training, SCC make you do 2 hours over 2 weeks in the evenings – difficult when drama clubs are often taught in the evenings. The course content was also inappropriate for an amateur kids show with kids you love and teach every week – I do not think the seeds of what the odd rogue may get up to should be planted into our heads – it is not my world and i do not want to know – They say they are protecting the children but it is having the reverse affect – the very children they are trying to protect are losing out because a lot of these places are closing down – it's too much hassle, turning something that was exciting and fun into a chore.

Also if you don't need them for rehearsals why should you have them for the perofrance – not all amateur groups are doing lots of shows – we only do one performance.

Practically speaking it is much easier to identify a missing child (unlikely!) if you know them and to waste time training chaperones an hour before the show when you can use someone who you know and who the kids know is much more practical from both the artistic and supervisory point of view – it is ridiculous that the childrens' own teachers in my last show were not allowed to chaperone the children because they were not licensed chaperones even though they teach the classes every week and took the rehearsals.

Why does this matter?

It is important for children as what  integrity in an adult is all about – Adults should be trusted and children should trust adults. The majority should not have to suffer for the minority who will always be there. What message is it sending out to children that their own mothers can't be trusted to look after their best friend back stage? Shall we be licensed to have friends to tea, birthday parties and sleepovers next? Secondly who are we protecting these children from – each other? There are no adults in my shows.

It is important to what spontaneity and creativity are about – bureaucrats are so obsessed with rules, it is killing all that was once spontaneous, joyful and fun – creativity cannot be and should not be capped – it's like putting us in straight jackets – it feels rather like Cromwell and the Puritan movement all over again – It is essential that children learn to perform and communicate in a world of technology and individualism. These silly rules are killing it.

I have a friend, a Speech & Drama Teacher – my mentor and a brilliant teacher – she is dying of cancer and only has a few months left to live. IN a recent catching up e-mail she told me the sad news and ended her e-mail with these words:

"The bean counters and the bureaucrats and the managers are doing their very best to destroy what was once honest and truthful and beautiful. I’m glad in a way that I won’t be here to see life when they succeed. However there are good guys around. Keep believing it and knowing that you’re one of them. I always believed in you and still do."

My idea is important because she is right. Teachers should have 1 portable CRB (like their first aid certificates, driving licences and passports!) and their qualifications as  teachers (which we all worked hard for and were proud to earn over a four year degree course) should stand on their own merit without the need for being licensed as well. By making me do this course , it made me feel that my degree (Bed Hons Class1 all papers) was not worth the paper it was written on.

Professional chaperoning, of course,  is an entirely different matter.

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