CES Census Guide

Preparing for this census

What is the CES census?

The Catholic Education Service Census (CES) is a requirement for all Catholic schools in England to complete and submit once a year.

  • Further guidance regarding Census can be found on the CES Website.
  • For an FAQs on the CES Census, click here.

For two weeks before the day specified as Census day, Arbor allows you to carry out what we call a ‘dry run’. The dry run lets you generate a mock Census and work through clearing the errors and completing gaps in required data. The Census and dry runs can be generated as many times as you wish. When you do run your Census, Arbor will output data as if it were Census day.

Unless specific instructions are given by your local authority, you do not have to submit the Census on census day. The CES sets a Census deadline, which is visible on your Census page.

Important dates

Key Dates What you need to do
Census Dry run opens Thursday 4th January 2024
  • Run a Dry Run
  • Resolve any errors in batches then regenerate your census as many times as you need to
Census Day is Thursday 18th January 2024
  • Run your Census Return
  • Add in your on-the-day information
Census Submission Deadline is Friday 9th February 2024
Unless told otherwise by your LA
  • Check your Census Return
  • Download the census to your computer
  • Upload to the CES


Running your census

To navigate to your Census page on Arbor go to School > Data > Export > Data Returns. Here you will see a list of the different censuses for the academic year to date.

If you have recently joined Arbor and this is your first time using our Census area then you will still see a list of all the Census return dates for the academic year but these will not contain any Census return data relating to your school.

The date on the left-hand side of the page is the official census day and the date in italics to the right-hand side of the screen is the deadline date for submission.

Completing the data check

You’ll need to resolve some of the errors that the DfE will flag up on your Census page before you can generate a Dry Run.



On the overview page, you will need to enter additional information before you can generate a Dry Run. Fill in the fields highlighted in orange.

Once these fields are complete, you will be able to proceed with generating the Census.





Click each section to enter the information required and click Save Changes.




Once you've resolved all the issues, a button will then appear on your Census page allowing you to generate your dry run.



Please note that if it is not the start of the dry run yet, this button will not appear and you'll need to wait until the dry run period starts.



Generating a Dry Run

You'll be able to generate your dry run from the same page, or you can return to this page from School > Data > Export > Data Returns. Select the CES Census and click the Generate Dry Run button.

When the Dry Run has been generated, you will be taken to the overview page automatically. It will look the same as if you were generating an actual Census. You will be able to check information and resolve errors in the same way as if it were an actual Census Generation. 



Generating the Census on or after Census day

You will be able to generate your Census from the same Census Overview page that you have been using to generate your Dry Runs - School > Data > Export > Data Returns > Select Census

If you have created a Dry Run before, you will be taken to the CES Census return overview page when you click the Generate Census button. The screen will give you details about the Census and tell you it is currently generating.



Once the Census has been generated, you will get a notification in the speech bubble in the top right-hand corner of your screen letting you know that the Census generation is complete. Click the notification to access the census.



Scroll down to click into the most recent generated Census and click on it.




Solving your errors

Once your Census or Dry Run has been generated you’ll see errors and queries that need to be resolved.

  • Further guidance regarding Census can be found on the CES Website.
  • We’ve also got FAQs to help resolve common errors: CES Census FAQ

Errors will remain in the list until you regenerate the Census. Errors will only clear on each successful regeneration. We recommend that you do not regenerate the Census upon clearing each error as waiting for each regeneration would take up a lot of time - instead, resolve your errors in batches.



Click the error to add the required information.



If you need to add missing CCRS statuses to your staff, just go to their staff profile. In the Qualifications & Checks section, click +Add, select Personal Qualification and pop in 'ccrs' in the Qualification Name field. This will ensure your census picks up that the staff has CCRS status.



Reviewing your data

Missing information

Review information contained in the CES Census by clicking on each tab.

Any missing items will be highlighted in orange in the table.

To add the missing information, click on the row and a slide over will appear.



Reviewing headcounts

Some of the information in the return is calculated by Arbor. In the tables where this data is displayed, you will be able to review these calculations.



Click an item in the table to see which pupils/staff members make up the count. You can click through to a person’s profile to amend this information.



In some cases, you will be able to amend this information in bulk by clicking on Amend this in bulk. This will take you to a page where you can use the tick boxes on the side and the Bulk action button to complete actions in bulk.



Top Tip: Saved changes will not be reflected in the census instantly, you will need to click the Refresh Census button to see any changes made. We recommend you solve multiple errors before refreshing your Census so you don’t waste time waiting for it to generate.


Downloading Your PDF Census Summary

Click the Download Arbor Summary button.



This will download a PDF file for you to review.



Submitting the census

When all the information in your CES Census has been checked, you can download the return file by clicking the Download Census button on the census return overview page.



When you download the Census, it will automatically save to your computer in CSV format. We are unable to advise you where this will have been saved as it will depend on the configuration of your computer. However, this will most likely be set to save in your Downloads folder by default.

Do not open the file!

Once the Census is downloaded out of Arbor, it is your responsibility to upload it to the CES website here. Enter your user ID and password to upload your file.

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