Sex, Gender and Gender Identity in Arbor and statutory returns

What's changed?

To align with the DfE, we’ve made some changes to the gender field in Arbor. It’s important to us that you understand why we’ve made these changes, and how they affect the recording of student and staff information.

As part of the census, the DfE collects information about students’ legal sex, and for a long time, this field has been labelled as ‘gender’. To match what is collected in school census, workforce census and other statutory returns, we have re-labeled the ‘gender’ field in Arbor as ‘sex’.

The options for this field as set by the DfE are ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ - we’ve also added ‘Not known’, and ‘Not specified’ as extra options. We know this doesn’t allow for schools to record comprehensive information about their staff and students, so we have now:

  • relabelled the Gender field in Arbor to Sex
  • added a new field on student, guardian and staff profiles for Gender Identity. We’ve named it  Gender Identity rather than Gender to minimise any confusion between the new and old fields.

Please note that the DfE's guidance here currently states that "Gender should be self-declared and recorded according to the wishes of the parent and / or pupil". Our update coincides with DfE guidance changes that will come into effect next year, but we've introduced these changes now to enable you to record what you deem to be appropriate at the time.


  • All Staff: Basic HR Administration - Edit Sex or Gender Identity for other staff (all staff can edit their own Gender Identity).
  • Guardians: Administer All/My Students - Edit Sex or Gender Identity for guardians.
  • Identity: Administer All/My Students - Edit Sex or Gender Identity for students.
  • Student Profile: Identity: View All/My Students - Report on Edit Sex or Gender Identity for students.

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



Logging different users' sex

In Arbor, there are 4 options for setting a staff member, student or guardian's sex:

  • Female
  • Male
  • Not Known
  • Not Specified

These options have been outlined by the DfE in the DfE's Complete the school census guidance (please note they still refer to it as Gender here).



Is this field required?

This is the field that is required and returned in censuses and files.

If a student's sex hasn't been recorded, or has been set as Not Known or Not Specified, the gender will not be output in the census. It will not flag an Arbor error, but you will still see the DfE error Error 1610. Please see this guidance for what to do if you get this error: Error 1610

Please note: You won't be able to export certain files unless the students are marked as Male or Female:

How do we report on Sex?

Sex can be found in all reporting options and as a Demographic across the MIS, such as in our built-in tables and filters.



You can also use the Custom Report Writer.



Gender Identity

This new field can be found in the Identity section on profiles for students, staff and guardians. This field defaults to Not specified for everyone - we don't assume this field.

Logging different users' gender identity

Click on the field to edit it.

Please note that updating the Gender Identity field won't change names or salutations - so if Mr was used before, you'd need to click into their name if you also wanted to change this to Miss.



In the slide over, select the Gender Identity or Male or Female, or you can use your own term.

If you want to use your own term, you'll need to fill in the free-text Preferred term box before you click Save




Here are two examples, the second shows the free-text field.




How do we report on gender identity?

Gender identity is not a demographic in Arbor, so can't be used in our built-in tables or filters.

However, it can be used in the Custom Report Writer, as a column, grouping or filter.




Who can see these fields?


Students cannot view or edit Sex or Gender Identity of anyone (including themselves) on the Student Portal.


On the Parent Portal and Parent App:

  • Parents and guardians can see and edit Sex for their child.
  • Parents and guardians cannot see or edit Sex for themselves.
  • Parents and guardians cannot see or edit Sex for other guardians linked to students. However, they can specify Sex when adding a new guardian.
  • Parents and guardians cannot see or edit Gender Identity for themselves or their child.

Top Tip: Depending on your settings, changes may need to be approved by someone at your school.




Only staff with the All Staff: Basic HR Administration permission can see and edit Sex or Gender Identity for other staff.

However all staff can see (but not edit) their own sex, and change their own gender identity identity from My Items > My Account.



How does this work with merge fields in communications?

When generating emails, SMS, in-app messages and letters with merge fields for pronouns, these will be based of Gender Identity.

  • If gender identity is set as Male, we'll use he/him/himself pronouns.
  • If gender identity is set as Female, we'll use she/her/herself pronouns.
  • If gender identity is set as I prefer to use my own term, we'll use they/them/themselves pronouns.

If there is no Gender Identity set, we'll use Sex instead.



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