Preparing for the 2021 Spring School Census

For links to other useful guides, webinars and bookable support slots with our Support Team, click here


Changes this census

There are no major changes regarding what is collected in the census, apart from the changes to the attendance codes collected (detailed below).

For the guidance from the DfE on changes to the census, click here, or for further information detailing what data your school must return in the census, click here.

Attendance collected in the Spring 2021 census

Attendance data from Summer 2020 was not collected in the Autumn 2020 census. Attendance from Autumn term is collected in this Spring Census, so make sure you have used the correct attendance codes this term.

Arbor will automatically output attendance data for students who were aged 4 to 15 on the 31st August 2020 (their date of birth falls between 1st September 2004 and 31st August 2016) enrolled at the school for at least one roll call register during Autumn term. 

The attendance data is collected for between 1st August 2020 to 31st December 2020.

For the Spring 2021 census, the DfE is collecting data on all categories of attendance, rather than just absences. Here is a breakdown of the attendance codes collected:

Code Type


Collected this census?


/ or \ - Present am or pm

Yes - New

L - Late (before register closes)

Present at an Approved Educational Activity

B - Educated off Site

Yes - New

J - Interview

P - Approved Sporting Activity

V - Educational trip

W - Work Experience

Authorised absent

C - Other Authorised Absence

Yes - Was collected before

E - Excluded

H - Family Holiday (Agreed)

M - Medical/Dental Appointments

R - Religious Observance

S - Study Leave

T - Traveller Absence

I - Illness (Cov is output as I)

Unauthorised absent

G - Family Holiday (Not Agreed)

Yes - Was collected before

N - No reason

O - Unauthorised Absence

U - Late (After Register Closes)


X - Not Required (Sym, SII and SIE are output as X)

Yes - New

Y - Unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances

Yes - Was collected before

Z - Pupil Not On Roll


# - School Closed To Pupils






Preparing your data

Before the Dry Run facility opens, you can start preparing for Census using these three key areas:

  1. Check your recorded School Details by going to School > School Details.
  2. Check for duplicate student profiles in the Suspected Duplicates section
  3. Add and update basic details in the Students > Identity and Students > Demographics sections. Just click a cell to add the data!
Preparing your school and childcare data

Check your recorded School Details by going to School > School Details. Ensure that your LA is filled in, Establishment Number, School telephone number and email address, Intake Gender, School phase, School type, Governance type, Intake type and URN all have information present (especially important to check if you have recently become an Academy).




In the Spring Census, your school is required to provide information on the number and type of childcare places your school provides.

There are four types of childcare that you have to provide information on:

  • B - Before school
  • A - After school
  • H - Holiday provision
  • U - Nursery for ages 0-4 (for more than 9 hours/day, not a provision that is only available during school hours or where children can only attend for a morning or afternoon session).

For each type of childcare, you will need to add the type to the Child Care Places section by clicking+Add.


Please note that certain information is not required, and may flag an error if you add it:

  • Closing Time is not required for Before School Childcare
  • Opening Time is not required for After School Childcare
  • Weeks Open is not required for either Before or After School Childcare

If you do not offer this type of childcare, set the Child care signposting and Childcare for other schools fields to No, leaving the others blank. 



If you do offer this type of childcare, add the details specific to your school's situation.



If your school offers childcare for under 5s, and it is for more than 9 hours, add your Under 5s childcare to reflect the start and end times.



If your school offers childcare for under 5s but it is less than 9 hours, you do not need to report this, so set your childcare as shown below.


Merge or delete any duplicate students

You can see a list of potential duplicate students in School > Data > Data Quality Dashboard >Suspected Duplicates > Students.

You won't be able to merge or delete any students yourself but will need to get in touch with us so we can resolve them for you. Take a look at this article to see what information we'll require. 


Check data for students

To check that all students have information entered for key Census fields, go to School > Data > Data Quality Dashboard > Students. This will open up three sections where you can update and add information - Contact Details, Identity and Demographics. Click into each to check your student data.



Assign UPN - Make sure all students have a UPN. If a student has no UPN against their profile they will show up in the list here. To generate a UPN for a student, use the bulk actions. 



To assign a known UPN to a student, add this from the Identity section of their student profile.



Update Basic Details - This allows you to quickly check that you have filled in some key information regarding students. To add or change any of the information, just click on the cell you wish to edit and a slide over will appear where you can add or update the correct information. For example, to add an Ethnicity source, select the students then select Bulk Set Ethnicity to choose the source. 



For Nursery years: Update Funded Hours - Clicking on this will take you to a table that contains hours and funding information required in the School Census for Early Years and Nursery students. This data is not reported for 4-years-olds in Reception, so Reception students are not included in the table. For each individual student the number of funded hours allowed depends on the student's age and NC year.

Please note, for students that are not entitled to extended hours paid for by the government, do not enter anything into the Extended hours field. Hours paid for by the child’s parents or the school should only contribute to the Hours at setting total.

You can update an individual student’s hours by clicking on their name. You’ll need to ask the parents if you do not know a child’s code.



You can also add some information in bulk, but you will still need to add the codes in by clicking on the students. 



For students 11+: Update YSSA - If you have post-16 students whose information you are sharing with Connexions etc make sure that this is noted in the Youth Support Services Agreement section.bulk_yssa.png


If you’re not requesting this information, you can mark your students as Unsaught.



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