BRADFORD Council has said it expects to see more children attending school this lockdown due to the expanded definition of ‘vulnerable’ children.

It said it is maintaining close contact with schools throughout lockdown to provide them with support to educate their pupils safely.

There have been reports of some schools seeing an increased number of pupils coming into school this lockdown, compared with the first lockdown last Spring when schools were last closed.

Wibsey Primary School headteacher Nigel Cooper said 170 pupils are currently still in school, out of a pupil population of 677.

There are different reasons which could explain why numbers of key worker children and those classed as vulnerable have increased this time round.

These include the much better understanding of Covid-19 we now have making parents feel it is safer for their children to be in school, and also the expansion of what classes a child as ‘vulnerable’.

The current definitions include looked-after children, those with care plans, those at risk of being referred to social services, adopted children, those at risk of not being in education or work, those in temporary accommodation, young carers, care leavers, those whose mental health may be at risk, and those who may have difficulty engaging with remote learning at home due to a lack of technology or lack of space to study.

Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Education, Councillor Imran Khan, said: “Schools across Bradford district did an excellent job of providing on-site education to the children of critical workers and vulnerable children throughout the first lockdown and are doing so again now.

“As the definition of ‘vulnerable’ has been widened since the first lockdown more children potentially may attend school this time around.

“We are in close and regular contact with school leaders and are supporting them to provide education safely for those who really need to be physically in school.”

Steve Kelly, principal at Keighley College, said the remote learning system was “really successful” in last year’s first lockdown, in terms of engagement from students, which gives a solid base to build on this term.

But he too has noted an increase in students falling into the ‘vulnerable student’ category.

He said: “We’ve not had an increase of students in the building in term of numbers, but we’ve had more in the vulnerable categories and have support mechanisms in place for them, and have been handing out laptops and tablets to them.

“They can study at home and also come into college when they need to, we’re still open to support the students who need it.”