Who is a key worker?

Image above: Police (library picture taken before the pandemic)

Throughout the pandemic, when the schools have been closed to the majority of pupils, they have been open to those children who are considered ‘vulnerable’ and to the children of key workers.

If a child is considered ‘vulnerable’, both the school and the parent / carer is aware. There are formal processes involved, which include children on Education Health Care Plans.

The definition of a ‘key’ or ‘critical’ worker is set out on the Department of Education website, which you can see here. It involves parents whose work is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response and also those whose work is important for the EU transition process.

It includes those who work in health and social care, education and childcare and key public services such as people involved in operating the Justice system, religious staff, those working for charities and delivering key frontline services. It also includes journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

It includes some, but not all, administrators in local and national government and those involved in the production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery of food and other essential items.

Police and others involved in maintaining public safety and national security, transport, border control, utilities, communication and financial services are also considered ‘critical’ workers by the government.

Schools ask parents to fill out a questionnaire about their job and they then write to families who fit the criteria, about their child’s education provision.

Image above: vegetables on sale on a stall on Chiswick High Rd; photograph Jon Perry

From the government website

Key/Critical Workers – List of Occupations 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 distributors of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare

This includes:

  • Childcare
  • support and teaching staff
  • social workers
  • specialist education professionals who must remain active during the coronavirus (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
  • 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 coronavirus (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 coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak)
  • 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 coronavirus (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 coronavirus (COVID-19) response
  • 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
  • waste disposal sectors

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Where to get help and information

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