Preparing for the school census

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

Changes this census

For 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.

Alternative Provision details

Schools have two new areas to record details for students they’ve sent to Alternative Provision placements, and students they are providing Alternative Provision placements to. See how to record this here: Recording Alternative Provision placement details

This data is only being collected in the Spring term School census, but you may wish to start recording these details for the Autumn term now if you want to return this information in Spring. Please note that these areas are optional.

Learner funding and monitoring (FAM)

Schools can add the new funding types to Student Profiles to report they are in receipt of catch-up funding. This is required for the Autumn census. You can see how to add this to students here: Adding top up funding to a student

For the Spring census, schools will need to return the cumulative total number of hours the pupil has received of school-led tutoring. We are building this for the Spring census.


The DfE will begin referring to Fixed Period Exclusions as 'suspensions' from Autumn 2021. We won’t be changing the terminology in Arbor, but censuses will display Suspensions in data tables so you can make sure you’re submitting the correct data.

For Permanent Exclusions that are still going through the review process, you can tick the Do not return in school census box to prevent errors in your Autumn Census.

Post-16 Programmes

For the Autumn Census, programme aims will be collected for both on and off roll pupils. You’ll also need to specify a Programme Aim Type for each student on each Programme. We’ve made this 16 to 19 Study Programme by default, but you can change this to T level if needed. Take a look at our central guidance: Programmes of Study and Core Learning Aims for Post-16.


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!


  • School: General Admin: Administer - Access and edit the data in the Data Quality Dashboard for students
  • Student: Consents: Administer - Update YSSA for students

If you don't have the permission, you'll need to ask your admin team to give you permission using these instructions.

Preparing your school 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).


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 can then merge or delete these. Take a look at this article to see how to do this.

Top Tip: If you know that two students are duplicates but they aren't flagging as such, make sure their names are identical.


Check data for students

To check that all students have information entered for key Census fields, go to School > Data > Data Quality Dashboard > Students.

Religion, country of birth and nationality are not reported in the census, so these fields are not required.



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.



For Post-16: Update Learning & EEP Hours - This page allows you to update student EEP and Learning Hours in bulk. Values with a white background are derived from the sum of the learning hours entered for each student's programme enrolments. 



You can check the breakdown of student’s hours to see which ones are missing from the Update Learning & EEP Hours page by clicking a student’s name.



To add in any missing hours to programmes, go to School > School Structure > Programmes of Study. If this page is blank, see this article to set up your programmes first. Select the programme then the programme instance, then add in the Planned Learning Hours.

If the programme runs for two years, make sure you’ve set the learning hours for the first and second years. If you don't see the second year here, it means you haven't yet created the next academic year. You can either wait to fill the hours in when the year is created, or create the year by following step 1 in this article



Top Tip: Be sure to also include any work placements for students. Record work placements by setting up programme instances with the right qualification award reference, then adding the students to them by following the instructions in this article.

Values with a yellow background have been input manually. To add in hours manually, tick the students and click the blue pencil icon.



You can also enter this for a single student by clicking their name.



For Post-16: Update GCSE Attainment for Funding - If you have any post-16 students you’ll need to record their prior attainment in English and Maths for the last two years. You’ll need to check and update any attainment that has changed.

Take a look here for full instructions: Adding prior attainment for English and Maths


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