Roll out User Defined Fields (UDFs) from MAT MIS

User Defined Fields let you track that little bit of extra information on student, staff or guardian profiles. In this article, you’ll find out how to standardise your UDFs across your trust, while saving lots of set-up time. You can find out more about how UDFs work at a school level here: Using User Defined Fields (UDFs)

UDF rollout is not available on our MAT Essentials Tier. Want to upgrade or find out what package you’re on? Just get in contact with your Account Manager.

We're always looking for ways we can improve on our new features. If you have any feedback on MAT UDFs, please submit it here: MAT MIS General Improvements


You'll need the Group User Defined Fields: Administer permission to be able to roll out UDFs across all your schools. If you don't have permission, you'll need to ask an administrator to give you permission following these instructions.


Before setting up UDFs across your schools

Check all of your schools have agreed to share data at the DfE Data, MIS Data & Group Actions level. You can see how to set this up here


Rolling out UDFs to your schools

The Administration > User Defined Fields page lists all of the UDFs you've already rolled out from the MAT MIS. It will not show any UDFs that are only set up on a school site.

Click the Add User Defined Field button to add a new UDF.



Choose which UDF type to set up. This cannot be changed once the field has been created.

  • Short text - type in any text into the box
  • Long text - type in any text into the box
  • Boolean - set answers to Yes or No
  • Drop-down - select between a set number of responses
  • Number - any number
  • Date - select the date
  • Date/time - select the date and time



 In the slide over, choose your settings:

  • Identifier - An optional field that lets you set an identifier for the field that is different to the name used for the field.
  • Relates to - Select the type of record the user-defined field should be associated with. Select if you would like this field to show on Students, Staff or Guardian profiles, or Educational Institutions.  This cannot be changed once the field has been created.
  • Institutions - Which schools would you like to roll the UDF out to?



If you've selected the field type of 'Drop-down', you'll need to add options for the drop-down menu.



In the permissions section, you can either:

  • Leave the drop-down menu blank to have the UDF only viewable in the System area of school sites by those with the  General Admin: Administer or User Defined Fields: Setup permissions.  
  • Select an area of the system to see what permissions will also be able to access this information on user profiles.



In this example, you can see that someone will need the Student Profile: Communications: Administer my students permission to fill in this field on a student's profile.



The UDF will then be set up on the school's sites. You'll be able to see it on school sites once you log in from System > User Defined Fields.



Editing a User Defined Field on the MAT MIS

Click into a User Defined field and click Edit.



  • Change the Field Name or Identifier and click Save Changes to change these values in the UDFs on your school sites.
  • Click Delete to remove the UDF from the MAT MIS and from all school sites. Please note this will also delete all the data for this field on school sites and this cannot be restored.



Changing the institutions:

  • If you add a new school to the list then click Save Changes, this will set up the UDF on the school site.
  • If you click the X on a school name to remove it from the list, then click Save Changes, this will remove the UDF from these school sites. Please note this will also delete all the data for this field on these school sites and this cannot be restored.



Click Archive to mark the UDF as not Active on the MAT MIS.

When you do this, the UDF will no longer show on school sites. You will no longer be able to view the values on the MAT MIS by clicking into the UDF, but you can still report on it in the Custom Report Writer (shown below).



Editing Drop-down options

You can edit these options once set up by going to the UDF and clicking Edit.




Click into a drop-down item to delete it (if it is not in use), or archive it to prevent this option from being selected but not remove it from existing records.



Reporting on UDFs

Exporting UDF values

Once schools have recorded data into the UDFs, click into a UDF from the Administration > User Defined Fields page to Download your data to export to a 3rd party if needed.



Using the Custom Report Writer

You can create a report on your UDFs by going to Analytics > Custom Report Writer and clicking to create a new report.

When choosing your columns, type in the name of a UDF to drag and drop it over into your report.

Top Tip: The field will show N/A for data if the UDF hasn’t been pushed to the school.




Can schools edit the UDFs we've rolled out?

No, schools won't be able to edit or delete the UDFs you've rolled out on the school site. They can only fill in the fields for them.



Can we report on UDFs our schools have set up in the Custom Report Writer? 

No, you can only report on UDFs you've set up at MAT MIS and rolled out to your schools in the MAT MIS Custom Report Writer.


What is the difference between short and long text?

The only difference between short and long text is the size of the text area when editing the record, we don't limit the number of characters you can record. If you want to encourage staff to enter less text, choose the short text option and vice versa.


Our schools set up their own UDFs. Can we merge them together or copy data from one to another to standardise them?

When you roll out UDFs from your MAT MIS, they will be set up on school sites alongside any existing school UDFs, even if they have the same name. We recommend being careful not to name your UDFs the same thing to be able to distinguish old from new.

Although there isn't a migrator, you could download the data from one UDF, copy it over to the UDF import spreadsheet then import it into the MAT-defined UDF. You can then delete the old ones from school sites.

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