The government says ‘vulnerable children’ are exempt from the schools closure - here’s what that actually means

In a press conference on 18 March, Boris Johnson said only the children of key workers and vulnerable children would be exempt from the national schools closure amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement, which includes nurseries and private schools, also means that exams across the country have been cancelled.

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While millions of children will be asked to stay at home, there is some confusion about which children will still be attending school.

This is what the government guidance says about what constitutes a “vulnerable child”.

What are ‘vulnerable children’?

Details of what constitutes a ‘vulnerable child’ are still vague, but according to guidance from the Department of Education, the category includes those who:

- Have a social worker- Have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

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Education, Health and Care Plans are legal documents that describe a child’s special educational needs and the support they require.

The Department for Education said: “Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with appropriate care.

Where schools are unable to look after these children, local authorities will work with the Department for Education’s regional teams to ensure an alternative option is available in the same area,” it added.

Who counts as a ‘key worker’?

Once again, the government has not yet produced an exhaustive list of jobs that it classifies as “key” to the economy, but said that examples include “NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work to support the country’s fight to tackle coronavirus.”

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In addition to those examples, parents with the following professions are reported to have been asked to keep sending their children to schools.

- National Health Service- Armed forces- Teachers and childcare staff- Care home workers- Social workers- Police officers, community support, civilian staff- Prison officer or other probation staff- Firefighters- Local authority planners- Environmental health officers- Highway Agency traffic officers