Education secretary Gavin Williamson announced on Wednesday that schools and colleges will only stay open from Friday afternoon until further notice for vulnerable children and those of “key workers”.

The government has now released a list of who falls into these two categories (in full below).

Children of key workers who are aged up to and including 17 can still attend education providers, while vulnerable children goes up to the age of 25.

The guidance says that “many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home”, and that “every child who can be safely cared for at home should be”.

It has also been confirmed that children will be eligible to attend school and college even if just one parent or carer is identified as a “critical worker”.

Association of Colleges chief executive David Hughes said that for “many students of colleges, the right solution for them is to be at home, supported remotely, because that will reduce risks of contracting the virus”.


Vulnerable children:

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”.


Key workers:

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.


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.


The government said if workers think they fall within these “critical categories” 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”.

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    • Russ Cowdell

      What about the private security sector, why is that not included considering crime is certain to increase with already resources overstretched. Yet religious staff included,

  1. We are being told we are key workers and we are customer service agents for a call center for an insurance policy that is not a legal requirement. Don’t quite get how that comes into any of these

  2. Gemma Scott

    I’m a mother of a child who asd and adhd does that mean I am classed as a key worker then. hes off school due to this pandemic it’s over 40 minutes travel and I don’t drive. I’ve not seen any information about if I can access early shopping for vulnerable etc and feel like I’ve been left out the loop

  3. Caroline

    I’m a full time carer for my disabled 72yr old mum I recieve carers allowance but I’ve been told I dont meet the criteria for my daughter to have a place at school can any one help