Supporting vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Guidance for education settings and local authorities about children supported through social care, with EHC plans or identified as vulnerable by their school, college, early years provider or local authority.

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This guidance for vulnerable children applied during the period of partial school closure up to 31 July 2020.

Applies to England



This guidance covers children and young people:

  • supported by the child social care system
  • with education, health and care (EHC) plans
  • otherwise identified as vulnerable

This guidance is for service providers, including:

  • registered childcare providers (including nurseries and childminders)
  • local-authority-maintained schools and academies (both mainstream and special) - throughout, we define ‘school’ as either maintained by the local authority or a single (or part of a multi) academy trust
  • all alternative provision including pupil referral units
  • non-maintained special schools
  • independent special schools
  • general further education (FE) colleges, special post-16 institutions and other post-16 providers
  • local authorities and providers of children’s social care

Updates to this page

Published 22 March 2020
Last updated 15 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated guidance to reflect wider plans for more year groups to return to education settings, stating that vulnerable children and young people remain a priority, and are expected to attend if appropriate. We have not changed the groups included in the definition of vulnerable children, but have provided further examples of what types of children might be considered to be ‘otherwise vulnerable’, at the education provider’s discretion. We have also included updated links to Public Health England advice.

  2. Clarifications to the existing guidance including the actions to be taken for each group around their attendance or otherwise at an education setting. We have not changed the groups included in the definition of vulnerable children.

  3. Updated guidance on educational provision over the Easter holidays.

  4. Updated the following sections of the guidance: 13, 20, 21, 22, 24, 26, 27 and 30.

  5. Updated guidance to include additional information on children with education health and care (EHC) plans and children in alternative provision (AP) settings.

  6. First published.

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