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Who is a critical worker & can my children go to school?

06 Jan 2021

What the Prime Minister’s announcement on 4th January means for parents

Only children of critical workers and vulnerable children and young people should attend school or college. All other pupils and students will receive remote education. Vulnerable children and young people include those who have been identified as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), and who could therefore benefit from continued full-time attendance. This might include children and young people on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services or in the process of being referred.

Vulnerable children and young people include those who:

  • are assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children and young people who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • to children’s services
  • adopted children or children on a special guardianship order
  • those at risk of becoming NEET (‘not in employment, education or training’)
  • those living in temporary accommodation
  • those who are young carers
  • those who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or quiet space to study)
  • care leavers
  • others at the provider and local authority’s discretion including pupils and students who need to attend to receive support or manage risks to their mental health

Who qualifies as a critical worker?

Parents whose work is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and EU transition response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors. Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required.

Health and Social Care

This includes, but is not limited to, doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributors of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and Childcare

This includes:

  • childcare
  • support and teaching staff
  • social workers
  • specialist education professionals who must remain active during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response to deliver this approach

Key Public Services

This includes:

  • those essential to the running of the justice system
  • religious staff
  • charities and workers delivering key frontline services
  • those responsible for the management of the deceased
  • journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting

Local and National Government

This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of:

  • the coronavirus (COVID-19) response, and the delivery of and response to EU transition
  • essential public services, such as the payment of benefits and the certification or checking of goods for import and export (including animal products, animals, plants and food), including in
  • government agencies and arm’s length bodies

Food and Other Necessary Goods

This includes those involved in food:

  • production
  • processing
  • distribution
  • sale and delivery
  • as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines

Public Safety and National Security

This includes:

  • police and support staff
  • Ministry of Defence civilians
  • contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and EU transition)
  • fire and rescue service employees (including support staff)
  • National Crime Agency staff
  • those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas

Transport and Border

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response and EU transition, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass and those constructing or supporting the operation of critical transport and border infrastructure through which supply chains pass.

Utilities, Communication and Financial Services

This includes:

  • staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure)
  • the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage)
  • information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response
  • key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services)
  • postal services and delivery
  • payments providers
  • waste disposal sectors

So how can we help you?

All schools are under pressure to keep pupil numbers to a minimum during this time of crisis. If your child’s school is refusing to accept that your child meets the criteria by virtue of you being a critical worker or because they are vulnerable, we can offer you our support. We can prepare a letter setting out the reason why the School should revisit its decision and allow your child to be in school during lockdown. Please contact out expert education solicitors at Richard Nelson Solicitors if you would like to discuss your own situation.

Written by Louise O'Driscoll

Louise O'Driscoll is a solicitor in Richard Nelson LLP's education team, joining in 2020 with extensive experience in criminal law and education. She deals with a variety of matters relating to all levels of education, including EHCPs, school admissions, school complaints and university disputes. Read more about Louise O'Driscoll.

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