Preparing for the school census

For links to other useful guides and webinars, click here


You will need the School: Data Returns: Administer permission to be able to access and run the School census.

You'll also need specific permissions to resolve certain errors and queries, depending on the area you're resolving the error for. Some example permissions you might need are:

  • School: General Admin: Administer - Access and edit the data in the Data Quality Dashboard for students
  • Student Profile: Admin: Administer All Students - Add student funding or early years pupil premium eligibility.
  • Student Profile Language Abilities: Administer All Students - Add language abilities.
  • Student Profile: In Care: Administer All Students - Add in care notes for students.
  • Student: Consents: Administer - Update YSSA

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


Changes to the census this academic year

The Gender field has been replaced by Sex. Please see our guidance here: Sex, Gender and Gender Identity in Arbor and statutory returns. Schools can choose to record Gender Identity but this is not returned in the census.

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

For the summer census, an additional field called Expanded hours has been added for recording hours in school for Early Years and Nursery Students: Hours at setting, funded hours, extended or expanded hours and 30 hour funding codes


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, Childcare and Weekly School Hours Open 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 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 sex, 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 Tips:

  • If you know that two students are duplicates but they aren't flagging as such, make sure their names are identical.
  • You won't be able to delete or merge a profile that has attendance marks. To do so, you'll need to first delete the student's attendance marks following these instructions


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.

Top Tip: You’ll need the School: General Admin: Administer permission to access this area. If you don’t have permission, ask your office team to give it to you using these instructions.

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 Early Years and 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.

You can add some information in bulk, but you will need to add the 30 hours code by clicking on the students. 

Screenshot 2023-12-20 at 10.00.27.png


Update National Tutoring Programme Hours - If you have recorded a student as being in receipt of School Led Tutoring or National Tutoring Programme funding, you must add their number of tuition hours. You can see how to do this here: National and School Led Tutoring funding and teaching hours



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



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



Other things to make sure you've recorded

Data Collection periods

Here are some of the main data points collected in the census, including a link to the easiest way to report on them to check your data. 

This includes both on and off-roll students. More information can be found here: Data items 2023 to 2024

Please note that Pupil Premium is not directly output: Is Pupil Premium output in census?

Alternative Provisions

Record which students have had Alternative Provision (AP) placements: Alternative Provision placement details

National Tutoring Programme

Have you added funding records and teaching hours? You can see how to add this to students here: National and School Led Tutoring funding and teaching hours


Mark Permanent Exclusions in review as Do not return in school census.


What's next?

Once you've checked your site and filled in any missing data using the instructions above, you can get started on your census.

Before generating your dry run, go through our School Census Preparation Checklist. It will help eliminate a lot of the most common errors and queries schools encounter on the dry run.

Once the census dry run is open, you can run your dry run census and get it ready for submission. See here for when the dry run opens and to access your full census guide: School Census help and guidance

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