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Key Workers: The official list of those who can still send their children to school

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Whilst today will be the last day for most children at school there are those whose parents are ‘key workers’ that the government has identified need support while they work. For these children schools are to remain open. But who is a ‘key worker’?

The Department for Education has now released the list of ‘key workers’ and has more guidance on this.

Schools are, therefore, 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.

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.

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors listed below. Many parents working in these 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.

The government has list out several key principles:

  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.

If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:

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 distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare

This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the 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, and 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 COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms 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 COVID-19 pandemic), 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

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems 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 COVID-19 response, as well as 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 and waste disposal sectors.

If a worker thinks they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.

If your school is closed then please contact your local authority, who will seek to redirect you to a local school in your area that your child, or children, can attend.

Coronavirus

West Sussex refuses to support Crawley schools decision of NOT fining parents for keeping children absent

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September seems to creeping ever closer and with it comes the supposed return to school for children across the town.

But with the news that parents ‘must’ send their children back to school come the start of the new school year, also came the news that one head in paticular had gone on record to say he would not fine any parent who kept their child at home.

Head of St Wilfrid’s Michael Ferry was interviewed on breakfast television where he stated that he would not fine a parent. This then led to a whole debate about who was right and what the right decision should be.

Now West Sussex County Council has added to this furore by refusing to support a decision to not fine a parent made by any head teacher or school in Crawley.

In a statement a West Sussex County Council Spokesperson said:

“We welcome the plan for all children to return to the classroom in September after, what has been for many, a lengthy absence.

“We recognise that some children may be anxious about returning to school and will work closely with our schools to help them prepare children and build the confidence of parents  and carers in the plans for a safe and managed return.

“We will continue to work with schools to engage with and support parents and carers in getting their children back into school before considering issuing penalties for poor attendance. Issuing fines for non-attendance is always a last resort.”

The lack of apparent support from the county council shows an ever growing divide on decisions being made around the ongoing problems with the coronavirus.

Responding to the comments from West Sussex, Michael Ferry said:

“The guidance allows head teachers as far as they can to make local decisions to meet the needs of their school communities.  If one of those decisions happens to be that we are not going to fine people for something that isn’t their fault then I would expect the local authority to support the headteachers in doing so.

If only 10% turn up when we reopen then I would say I have failed because I have not got across the message about what measures we are taking to protect our students.”

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