School Census help and guidance

Important dates

  • Thursday 5th May 2022 dry run opens
  • Thursday 19th May 2022 is census day
  • Wednesday 15th June 2022 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. 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 discussion with other schools. 

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!


  • 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!

  • Are there no instructions re CIC and Leavers File? 


  • 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. 

  • Hi when will the cumulative hours for funding and monitoring be added? Where will this appear in Arbor? Thanks 

  • Hi Amanda, this will be available in time for your census dry run. I'm not able to say where it will be accessible from yet, I'm afraid. We will be sending out full guidance in time for the dry run.

  • Hi Gwyn I watched the webinar for Spring Census today, very helpful thanks. I have a query about fixed term exclusions. Why are Arbor not changing this to suspensions? Schools will not be able to resolve error 2275 unless this is amended.


  • Gender: In the dry run webinar this morning you mentioned that the DFE still expect gender to be the gender on the birth certificate. This is no longer the case. Although we still have to use only M or F we can enter a preferred gender: Are we able yet to record a preferred gender in Arbor for reporting in the census, or should we simply amend the gender in Arbor?

    See the DfE guidance at 

    Data items 2021 to 2022 - Complete the school census - Guidance - GOV.UK (

    The gender of the pupil in the format of ‘M’ (male) or ‘F’ (female).

    Gender should be self-declared and recorded according to the wishes of the parent and / or pupil.

    Individuals are free to change the way their gender is recorded.

  • Hi Amanda, 2275 is not due to this but an issue we are currently working to fix: Known issue: Error 2275

  • Hi Jacqui, you can see our current guidance on gender here: Gender in Arbor and statutory returns

  • Hello, working my way through the census. Secondary Appeal figures, it says add in admission appeals numbers for the last year. Is that the last school year? Or Sept 21 to now? Thank you

  • Hi Wendy, please take a look at the Admissions Appeals section in the DfE's guidance here.


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