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Government sets out list of ‘key workers’ to be prioritised for education provision

Only those administrative occupations in local and national government essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response, or delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms-length bodies are among those considered 'key workers' to be prioritised for education provision, the Government has said.

The list also includes “those essential to the running of the justice system”, the Cabinet Office and the Department for Education has confirmed.

The Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision, which contains the full list of key workers, can be viewed here.

Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) yesterday made representations to include local authority lawyers in the list. It said: “A number of officers are already earmarked to be included within the definition such as social workers, planning officers and environmental health officers who will require the support of lawyers to undertake their roles. This is alongside the pressing need for lawyers to underpin the governance of their local authority.”

The government guidance says schools, and all childcare providers, were being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.

It adds that vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.

“We know that schools will also want to support other children facing social difficulties, and we will support head teachers to do so,” it says.

The guidance says that many parents working in health and social care and other key sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. “And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.”

It calls amongst other thiings for these key principles to be followed:

  1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  2. If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
  3. Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  4. Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
  5. Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.