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Children: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 12th May 2020.

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Photo of Lord Campbell of Pittenweem Lord Campbell of Pittenweem Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Defence)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that vulnerable children attend school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

As my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have both made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by Covid-19.

Our latest guidance on supporting vulnerable children is set out below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings.

Attending school is a strong protective factor for many vulnerable children and young people and educational establishments remain open for them. We are closely monitoring the attendance of vulnerable children and are encouraging attendance where that would be in their best interests. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has written to leaders of all education settings and directors of children’s services in England to encourage attendance for these children.

69,000 vulnerable children were attending educational settings on Thursday 7 May, compared to 58,000 on Thursday 30 April.

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, has also stressed the need for schools, local authorities and social workers to maintain contact and support services for vulnerable children and young people throughout this period. Officials from the department, and re-deployed Ofsted inspection teams, are working with local authorities directly to ensure that the systems and processes for maintaining contact with vulnerable children are robust in every local authority in England. We have also issued detailed guidance for education settings on how they can support vulnerable children, including how to monitor and encourage attendance.

These are rapidly developing circumstances and we will continue to keep the situation under review and to keep Parliament updated accordingly.

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