A COUNCIL education boss has admitted she has no idea how many key workers children will be in school next week as Lancashire heads struggle to find out who will need teaching.

Cllr Maureen Bateson, Blackburn with Darwen borough's executive member for children, said: "We can’t guess the numbers."

Headteachers were yesterday contacting parents in the government designated corona-crisis 'critical jobs' to see if they needed to send their children to otherwise closed schools from Monday.

They include NHS staff, teachers and childcare staff; care home workers; social workers; police officers, police and and prison officers; probation staff, firefighters and council environmental officers. The government has said where the children of these groups can stay at home, they should.

Heads are also contacting the carers of vulnerable children about coming into school premises during the Covid-19 crisis.

Cllr Bateson said: “Our education officers have been working closely with Blackpool and Lancashire County Council to ensure we can provide headteachers with all the information they need to be able to respond to this rapidly changing situation.

“We have asked all schools to provide us, by the end of today an up-to-date list of numbers of children who need to be able to come into school.

“We can’t guess the numbers but we have asked school leaders to speak to parents and remain sensitive to individual circumstances. We have asked schools to reiterate to parents and carers the government guidance that only where parents have no other alternatives should they send their children into school to help stop the spread of this virus.

“Our priority is to ensure our children continue to receive their education and we support our staff and parents to help get through these difficult times.”

A Lancashire County Council spokesman said: "The government has said school places are available for the children of people classified as key workers.

"The advice is that if children of key workers can be kept off school, then they should be – so if parents can provide safe childcare that doesn’t put anyone at risk, then they should do so.

"If key workers cannot arrange safe childcare, those children should attend school, if fit and healthy, so that the key worker is available for work and provide vital services to the people of Lancashire. This applies to any family where one or more parent/carer is a key worker."