THE new national lockdown that comes into force from today have meant that schools are to remain shut for most pupils.

Both primary and secondary schools will remain closed for the majority of children until at least half term, with lessons moving online and A-Levels and GCSEs set to be cancelled this year.

Which children can still go to school?

However, the children of key workers, and those deemed to be vulnerable will still be able to attend lessons.

Key workers are those employed in the following sectors:

Health and social care

This includes doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers, as well as specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector, and supply chain.

Education and childcare

Childcare workers, support and teaching staff, social workers and specialist education professionals are all critical workers.

Key public services

This includes those essential to running the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering vital frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters providing public service broadcasting.

Local and national government

This only includes those delivering the coronavirus response, or essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.

Food and other necessary goods

Those involved in food production, processing, distribution and delivery – as well as those essential to the production of other key goods – are classed as key workers.

Public safety and national security

This includes police, support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel, fire and rescue service staff, National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff, and other national security roles, including those overseas.


This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the coronavirus response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

Do both parents need to be key workers?

No, according to government guidelines only one parent needs to be classified as a key worker for their children to be allowed to attend school.

Which children are classified as vulnerable?

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
  • 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 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

What about nurseries?

Early years settings such as nurseries and childminders can remain open, and existing childcare bubbles will be allowed to stay in place.

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