We are aware that some schools and colleges are struggling to deal with the huge numbers of parents/guardians who want their children to remain educated in person during the current lockdown. 

The Department of Education has published guidance to help schools and colleges which lists those children and young people who are deemed to be 'vulnerable'* and parents whose work is critical to the coronavirus response. These guidelines state that 'children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required'.

This list of key workers covers those engaged in:

  • Health and social care
  • Education and childcare
  • Key public services (including some lawyers, charity workers and journalists)
  • Local and national government
  • Producing, processing and delivery of food and other necessary goods
  • Public safety and national security (including police and probation officers)
  • Transport and border security (including workers responsible for keeping the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating)
  • Utilities, communication and financial services (including postal workers, bank staff and some IT workers).

How to respond to requests

You are entitled to ask parents/guardians to provide proof that they are eligible which could include asking for details of their employment such as an ID badge, payslip, letter from employer etc.  You can also ask them to briefly explain what they do as not everyone who works in one of the listed sectors will be a critical worker. Some employers are already sending out letters to staff they consider to be key workers which should be sufficient.

You will need to explain why you need this information and how long you will retain it in order to comply with data protection rules.

* Please note: since publishing this article, we note that the DfE have said that pupils in England who 'may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or a quiet place to study)' are designated as 'vulnerable children' and are eligible for face to face learning. This will, increase the pressure on schools/colleges as it's estimated that around 9% of children in the UK – between 1.1 million and 1.8 million – do not have access to a laptop, desktop or tablet at home. 

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