List of critical workers (key workers) and vulnerable children and young people who can access full-time education provision in the case of future restrictions on education during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.


Critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings



This guidance is for:

  • local authorities
  • school staff
  • early years staff
  • college staff
  • social care workers
  • parents
  • employers of parents with vulnerable children, or who are listed as critical workers in this guidance

It applies to all schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England.

It explains which children can attend school during the coronavirus outbreak.

There’s also guidance on What parents and carers need to know about schools and other education settings during the coronavirus outbreak.

Published 19 March 2020
Last updated 3 December 2020 + show all updates

  1. Updated to reflect the latest guidance on the contingency framework for education and childcare settings.

  2. Updated link to the new national restrictions which came into force on Thursday 5 November 2020.

  3. Updated information to reflect that all pupils can now return to education full-time and that further information has been published about possible local interventions.

  4. Added information on how primary schools can use flexibility to welcome back additional pupils this term, where they have capacity.

  5. Guidance updated to reflect the announcement by the Prime Minister that the government’s 5 tests have been met and the decision, based on all the evidence, to move forward with the wider opening of education and childcare settings.

  6. Updated to reflect that children of critical workers are encouraged to attend school, and to reflect plans for wider opening of schools from 1 June, at the earliest. Updated information defining vulnerable children, in line with existing guidance, for the purpose of continued education.

  7. Guidance title amended to help users find it. No change to the content.

  8. First published.