Resources for completing your School Censuses

Important dates

  • Thursday 7th January 2021 dry run opens
  • Thursday 21st January 2021 is census day
  • Wednesday 17th February 2021 is your census submission deadline (unless otherwise advised by your Local Authority)

Guidance from the DfE

The DfE provides lots of guidance on their website you can use to help you complete the School Census. You can search for information and find links to more help from this page.

If you've resolved all your errors and are ready to submit your census, take a look at the DfE’s COLLECT guides for help with what explanations to submit for any existing queries.

Our Census guidance

Before you run your dry run or census, you can start preparing for Census using our bulk data input pages - see how to update your data in our Preparing for the 2021 Spring School Census article.

We've got dedicated Census Guides for each census, Autumn, Spring, Summer and Catholic. We include three School Census Guides, tailored to your school type! If you have nursery students, use the primary guide, if you have post-16 students use the secondary guide, and if you have both, use the all-through guide:

Search solutions to any error

To solve your queries and errors, check out our Help Centre articles to help you resolve the most common errors and queries - click here for all of our School Census resources.

Check our searchable errors spreadsheet for quick tips on how to resolve each error.

Our Census Webinars and videos

Join one of our live census webinars to see a demo of how to complete your census. Click here to sign up to the next session, or here to watch back recordings of our past webinars.

We've also got some quick census videos for filling in specific census date for your school type - click here to watch.

Use the support of the Arbor Community

We have a whole section of the Arbor Community dedicated to the census. Just click here to join the conversation and get help from other schools and Arbor team members. 

Book a call with our support team

If you're an Arbor-supported school, you can book in a 15-minute session with our expert support team to help resolve some of your more complex errors and check your Census before you submit it. Before the session, work through as much of your census as you can so we can use the session to work through the trickier aspects.

Click here to sign up for a session.

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I'm still stuck!


  • Why does the secondary census guide make reference to UCIs? UCIs numbers are never needed for a census. ULNs are

  • Hi Jackie, looks like we included a bit of extra information that isn't required for the census - thanks for flagging this to us! You're right, UCIs are not required for the school census and we won't include this in our future guidance. If you have any further questions about how census works, please shoot us an email at

  • Hi there :) From what date will we we be able to carry out a dry run for the Spring Census?

  • Hi Katie, the dry run for the Spring 2021 census opens on 7th January. We're just working on the guidance you'll need right now, so check back soon!


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