Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education
Schools and colleges continue to remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable learners, as well as for learners who need to complete essential exams or assessments. Childcare settings remain able to care for all children aged 0-12, in line with their registration with Care Inspectorate Wales.
We have strengthened the duties for local authorities providing for the children of critical workers and vulnerable learners with provisions included in The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No.5) (Wales) Regulations 2020. Part 6 of those Regulations relate to provision of education in school. In deciding whether a pupil is the child of a critical worker, the local authority must have regard to any guidance published by the Welsh Ministers about identifying children of critical workers.
It is essential that the public has confidence in these arrangements. In considering whether a child is admitted to a school it is important to determine how the role of the parent or carer supports the Covid response and therefore makes them eligible for provision. We recognise that local authorities and schools will be balancing different types of employment and associated impacts in particular areas, and the pressures on education staff in providing in-school and on-line support in determining provision.
If one parent is a critical worker, they should be able to access a school or childcare place. Where one parent is a critical worker and the other parent is not, then the other parent should provide safe alternative arrangements at home when possible.
A full list of critical workers is available https://gov.wales/identifying-children-critical-workers-guidance The critical worker list goes beyond ‘blue light’ frontline services and includes a range of occupations which contribute to the Covid response including those who maintain critical public services and utilities for the people of Wales. In these cases the child should be able to access a school or childcare.
During this time vulnerable learners and children of critical workers should be offered education provision on their school site, if required; it is not our expectation that learners attend shared ‘hubs’.
I would like to once again thank our school and college staff for their work during this period, they are making a huge contribution in our efforts to keep people safe and our children learning.