School Census

Nursery, primary, secondary, special and PRS/PRU schools are required to submit a DfE Schools Census return every term. DFE provide a detailed guidance booklet each year which is intended to be used as a handbook for data entered onto school management information systems (MIS) throughout the year, rather than just for the Census itself. The updated version is available from the link on this page. Please also visit the termly census page which will have the details for what is required in each return.

Items used to calculate funding are indicated by [used for funding] markers in the booklet, some of these items may be validation items for other funding indicators so please ensure these data items are accurately entered. School Census 2017-18 has a couple of new items and changes to some existing items.

May 2018 sees the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), there are links on this page to the Information Commissioner’s page on the GDPR. The Census guidance booklet gives a summary of some of the key points, these are included on the Autumn Census page and a revised version of the privacy notice will be made available in a link from this page. Schools will need to review their privacy notices, make parents aware of the new information which highlights the parent/guardian or pupil rights to decline to provide data on pupil nationality and country of birth. Additionally parent/guardian or pupils will have the right to retract previously submitted data with respect to any nationality or country of birth information returned in a previous census.


Census Dates for 2017-18

Autumn Census 2017 Thursday 5th October 2017 

January Census 2018 Thursday 18th January 2018 

May Census 2018 Thursday 17th May 2018 - UPDATED


The 2017 October Census will be used to calculate the Dedicated Schools Grant for April 2018-2019; schools are encouraged to ensure all pupils are accurately recorded on that return. It is also the used to determine funding for post 16 students in sixth forms. Collection of data on Universal Infant Free School meals (UIFSM) continues in each census return and is in addition to periods of eligibility for FSM.

The Spring Census will continue as the source of information for the allocation of the Pupil Premium which includes elements for FSM eligibility, Service Children and Post Looked after arrangements (PLAA) (previously known as Adopted from Care), so it is essential that these data items are accurately recorded. PLAA covers all pupils adopted from care, not just those adopted after 30 December 2005. PLAA is collected in each census return so please ensure the details are correct in each census. Please note Looked after pupils (LAC) attract pupil premium but this information is collected on a separate return, the SSDA903, submitted by the LA. Funding for nursery pupils will continue to be based on a termly headcount of nursery children, the DFE use the Spring Census to calculate the funding. The Spring Census collects details of class organisation and is used to monitor Infant Class Size regulations 1998 which limits the size of an infant class to 30 pupils per school teacher. Infant classes are those in which the majority of pupils turn 5, 6 or 7 during the course of the school year i.e. reception and key stage 1 classes schools. School performance tables also include comprehensive information on what childcare primary and secondary schools offer – from nurseries to after school and holiday provision, this information is compiled from data submitted in the spring census. The accuracy of Census data is also important because pupil addresses are used to assess the socio-economic characteristics of the pupil population, and so provide a context for the assessment of schools' performance. Accordingly, the DfE recommends that schools send parents (or older pupils themselves) a data sheet showing what information is currently held by the school about the pupil and have in place a process to update the MIS data.

New pupil items for 2017-2018

New Extended Childcare hours

Collected in each census for eligible pupils for whom funded hours are collected. The new field records the take up of the additional 15 hours of childcare by eligible 3 and 4–year old pupils with working parents.

New 30 hour-code indicator For 3 and 4-year old pupils the 30 hour code indicator confirms the eligibility of working parents to access the additional 15 hours of extended childcare.

New Disability access fund indicator For 3 and 4-year old pupils (not in Reception), this new field records whether a child is in receipt of disability living allowance.

New 2 Year old basis for funding this new data item records the basis on which a 2 year old has been funded.

New General Item

Establishment Unique Reference number (URN) This new data item records the establishment unique reference numbers as held on the department’s EduBase System.

Changes to items for 2017-2018

Note The SEN unit indicator and Resourced Provision indicator have been amended to be collected each term

Note Proficiency in English is required for any pupils who have a language recorded as anything other than English or Believed to be English And the NC year group is Reception or above. The school are expected to assess their EAL pupils on a 5 point scale of reading, writing and spoken language proficiency using codes New to English [Code A] through to Fluent [Code E]. This item will be collected in the spring term only; the use of code N is limited to pupils who have only recently joined the school

NoteFunded hours” and “Hours At Setting” have changed from recording hours to one decimal place to recording hours to two decimal places. Please note: this is a decimal of hours and therefore does not record hours and minutes. A conversion table is provided is included on the Autumn Census page

The "Funded Hours" for pupils aged 2, and 3 year olds and 4 (as at 31st August) the total number of hours they spent in education provision at the school.

"Hours At Setting" (irrespective of who pays) accessed by 2, 3 and 4 year olds continues alongside "Funded Hours". It should be noted that Hours at Setting should include all time that a child is in Nursery Education in the school.

Please note pupils aged 4 at the start of the Academic year in Reception and above are funded as full time equivalent pupils and are funded via the dedicated school grant, funded hours and hours at setting for this group of pupils is no longer required.

Note Top-up funding the DFE is currently proposing to use the top-up funding indicator in the new high needs national funding formula that will be introduced in 2018-19. In addition, the indicator will be used for further research into high needs funding and for benchmarking information to local areas. Whilst this item is used as a checking tool for pre-16, it is used for the calculation of funding for Post 16 pupils so it is essential this is correctly populated.

Data that must be submitted in each census for each pupil individually includes pupil identifiers and also:-

Country of birth

Collected for all pupils and records the country in which the pupils was born as stated by the parent/guardian and /or child (in the case of a child without a parent/or guardian).

Pupil Nationality

Collected for all pupils and relates to the nationality of the pupil as stated by the parent/guardian and /or child (in the case of a child without a parent/guardian).


Collected for all pupils and records the language as stated by the parent/guardian or child

Unique property reference number (UPRN)

This has been added to the home information address module. It is anticipated that your MIS provider will add this to your MIS system. This is not a mandatory field.

Post looked after arrangements (PLAA)

Collected for all pupils, a default value of N – not declared is applied to all pupils unless information is volunteered by parent and added to the school MIS system.

National curriculum year groups

R & Yrs 1 –13

N2 for children aged 3-4 (DOB 01/09/2013-31/08/2014)

N1 for children aged 2-3(DOB 01/09/2014 – 31/08/2015)

Two year groups have been added to allow school MIS to record very young children.

E2 for children aged 1-2 (DOB 01/09/15-31/08/2016)

E1 for children aged 0-1 (DOB 1/9/2016 – 31/08/2017)

Attendance and absences

Collected for the term before the Census and in the autumn this includes the second half of the summer term. This applies to all schools and since spring 2017 applies to special schools also.

Exclusions- continue to be collected 2 terms in arrears.

Free School Meals

Periods of eligibility are still required to qualify for pupil premium payments despite the introduction of Universal Infant Free School Meals. CLICK HERE for some additional guidance dated July 2018.

School Lunches taken

This applies to pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 and records if a pupil has taken a lunch on Census day and is used to calculate funding

Unique Learner Numbers

Mandatory from September 2013 for pupils in secondary, special and PRS aged 14-19

SEN provision

The level of provision is collected in each return

Top-up Funding

Other items collected but not in each census


Includes all pupils regardless of age and applies to all schools. This item continues to be collected in the spring term only.

Service Children

This records those pupils with a parent(s) or persons with parental responsibility who is/are service personnel serving in regular HM forces military units or armed forces of another nation and stationed in England. This item is collected in spring only

SEN Type

This records the nature of a pupil’s primary and secondary (where applicable) special educational need. This is collected in spring only


For Secondary and PRU with an appropriate age range, this new item adds an indicator to each of a pupils learning aims to show if the individual learning aim contributes to a traineeship

Qualification Number (QN) and Subject Classification Code (SCC)

These are collected as part of the Post 16 data collection and are collected in the Autumn Term only.

Admission Appeals

Collected in spring term only, the appeals module collects primary admission appeals and secondary admission appeals separately

Dual Registration - A DfE reminder about attendance and absence recording Schools should record the pupil's attendance and absence for those sessions that the pupil is scheduled to attend their school only. The remaining session(s) when the pupil is attending another school will be marked in the register using Code D; this will not be included within the attendance data submitted in the Census for that school. The number of sessions possible for a dual registered pupil against the main school should exclude those when the pupil is due to attend the subsidiary school and vice versa. This does not change schools' obligations with respect to safeguarding and they must follow up all unexplained and unexpected absences in a timely manner.

YSSA Secondary schools need to ensure their Youth Support Services (previously known as Connexions) assent data is accurate for each pupil aged 13 or older. If parents/guardians or pupils advise they do not want additional data items shared this must be recorded on your MIS as ‘No’ so that it is collected in the next return.

The DfE Census preparation and guidance documents are available for download below. Use of these to help schools maintain their data throughout the year should ensure that Census causes as little extra work as possible. Other useful links can also be found below.

Useful Downloads

Collect Guide 2016

NY Guidance Summary on Pupil Language Data Collection (July 06)

NY Guidance on Pupil Language Data Collection (July 06)

DFE School Census Guidance notes 2017-2018

School census 2018 to 2019 Guide




Information Management Data Officer
Tel: 44 01609 532324