School Census help and guidance

Important dates

  • Thursday 23rd September 2021 dry run opens
  • Thursday 7th October 2021 is census day
  • Wednesday 3rd November 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

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.

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 data 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 you resolve 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.

You can book a slot by clicking this link:

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I'm still stuck!


  • Are there no instructions re CIC and Leavers File? 


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

  • Hi Helen, our team are working on creating instructions for CIC and Leavers files right now - as soon as this is ready I'll update you here. 

  • 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 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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