The Government has announced the definition of ‘critical workers’ – parents who may be able to continue sending their children to school and potentially nursery. The list, which we’ve published below in full, includes people working in healthcare, education, childcare, food, public safety and transport.


What if one parent is a critical worker and the other isn’t?

This is still a grey area as it’s not clear yet whether both parents have to be defined as critical workers for children to be eligible for continued school and nursery.

The current advice is: “If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.”

But the same advice on the website also stresses several times, “If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.”

So even if one parent is a critical worker but the other isn’t and finds themselves at home (either home-working or on enforced unpaid leave for example), then this may mean children will also need to stay at home and so won’t be eligible. “Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be,” states the advice.

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The key factor seems to be around the word ‘safe’. The criteria will be, can your child be kept safe at home. The summarises:

“If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision.”

The problem will be availability of school places.

As soon as this information is updated or clarified, we will let you know.

What do you do next if you are defined as a critical worker in the list below?

If you believe your role is included in the list of critical sectors below, you need to confirm this with your employer, that your role is necessary for them to provide the essential public service.

What happens if your child’s school is actually closed?

If your school is closed then you need to contact your local authority. They’ll try to find a local school that is open where your child, or children, can attend. (You probably won’t be the most popular parent!)

The official list of critical workers is as follows:

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.

All children classed as vulnerable will also continue to be able to go to school.


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Susie Boone, Editorial Director MadeForMums
Susie BooneEditorial Director, MadeForMums