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School census: guide to submitting data

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How local authorities, schools and academies should submit school census data to us.

The school census is a statutory census that takes place during the autumn, spring and summer terms. You must complete statutory censuses by law unless there’s a good reason not to.

The census collects information about individual pupils and about the schools themselves.

The following schools take part in the census:

  • all local-authority-maintained schools, including:
    • nursery schools
    • primary schools, including middle-deemed-primary schools
    • secondary schools, including middle-deemed-secondary schools
    • special schools (for children with special educational needs or disabilities), including hospital schools
    • pupil referral units (PRUs – for children who cannot go to a mainstream school)
    • community, foundation, voluntary-aided and voluntary-controlled schools
  • some schools, not maintained by the local authority, including:
    • academies, including alternative provision (AP) academies (for children who cannot go to a mainstream school)
    • free schools, including AP free schools
    • studio schools
    • university technical colleges (UTCs)
    • non-maintained special schools (schools for children with special educational needs that the Secretary of State for Education has approved under section 342 of the Education Act 1996)

Schools for service children overseas take part in this census on a voluntary basis.

Important dates

Autumn 2018 census dates:

  • census day: Thursday 4 October 2018
  • deadline for submitting data: Wednesday 31 October 2018

Who you need to submit data to

The following types of school are responsible for submitting their own data to the Department for Education (DfE):

  • academies, including AP academies
  • free schools, including AP free schools
  • UTCs
  • studio schools
  • non-maintained special schools
  • city technology colleges

The following types of school submit their data to their local authority:

  • local-authority-maintained schools
  • PRUs

Local authorities are responsible for approving and submitting these schools’ data to DfE.

If you are a local-authority-maintained school or PRU, you should contact your local authority to find out your deadline for submission.

Submit your data

You’ll need to:

  • register and log in with DfE’s Secure Access system
  • use COLLECT to submit your school census data

Please contact your school or local authority approver, if:

  • you want to request a Secure Access username or password so you can access COLLECT
  • ‘school census’ is not on the list of collections you can see in COLLECT

If you do not know who your approver is, please use the Secure Access service request form.

Reset your Secure Access login details using the forgotten password or username form.

Note that we’ll only be able to change the status of your data submission to ‘authorised’ once you’ve cleared all errors in the data in COLLECT.

Help to complete the census

Census 2018 to 2019

Use the following guides when you complete census data for 2018 to 2019 (from October 2018):

Technical guides

Video guides on how to prepare for the school census are also available.

If you wish to request XSLT files for the validation rules and school summary report, contact the Data Collection Helpdesk via the service request form.

If you are looking for guides from past school census collections, visit the ‘School census: closed collections’ page.

Do you need help?

Please use the service request form if you have any questions about your data. We aim to answer your question within 5 working days.


Please use the feedback form if you have any comments about our data collection service, including COLLECT and the helpdesk service.

Published 25 March 2014 
Last updated 11 September 2018 + show all updates

  1.  Added a link to the COLLECT duplicate guides.
  2.  Added link to ‘School census 2018 to 2019 term-on-term user guide’ from ‘Help to complete the census’ section.
  3.  Updated with important dates for the 2018 to 2019 autumn census. Added 2018 to 2019 census funding report guide.
  4.  Added a link to the interactive post-16 school census tool.
  5.  Added links to ‘School census 2018 to 2019: guide for schools and LAs’, ‘School census 2018 to 2019: technical information’ and ‘School census autumn 2018 to summer 2019: school summary report’.
  6.  Added new spring 2018 census dates.
  7.  Added infant class size validation guide to the ‘Help to complete the census’ section.
  8.  Updated census dates for Spring 2018.
  9.  Added a link to the term-on-term queries user guide for 2017 to 2018.
  10.  Added link to guidance on notepad entries for COLLECT queries for the autumn 2017 collection.
  11.  Added link to ‘School census 2017 to 2018: funding report guides’ and ‘School census 2017 to 2018: duplicate reports in COLLECT’.
  12.  Added dates for 2017 autumn census to ‘Important dates’ section.
  13.  Added link to ‘School census 2017 to 2018: guide for schools and LAs’.
  14.  Added a link to the school census autumn 2017 to summer 2018: school summary reports and updated summer census dates.
  15.  Added link to ‘School census 2017 to 2018: technical information’.
  16.  Updated school census dates for spring 2017.
  17.  Added links for the 2016 to 2017 school census notepad entries for COLLECT queries, term-on-term queries in COLLECT, duplicate reports in COLLECT and funding report guide.
  18.  Added dates for autumn census to ‘Important dates’ section.
  19.  Added a link to the school census autumn 2016 to summer 2017: school summary reports.
  20.  Added links to the 2016 to 2017 guide for schools and LAs, technical specification and validation rules. Updated important dates with the deadlines for the summer 2016 census.
  21.  Added local authority, early years pupil premium and pupil premium funding report user guides for spring 2016.
  22.  Added a link to ‘School census spring 2016: infant class size validation’.
  23.  Added link to ‘School census 2015 to 2016: duplicate reports in COLLECT’.
  24.  Added a link to ‘School census spring 2016: notepad entries for COLLECT queries’.
  25.  Added deadlines for the spring 2016 school census.
  26.  Added a link to the ‘School census autumn 2015: 16 to 19 funding reports guide’.
  27.  Added a link to video guides on how to prepare for the school census.
  28.  Added link to the ‘School census 2015: notepad entries for COLLECT queries’ page.
  29.  Added the ‘School census autumn 2015: LA funding report user guide’.
  30.  Added a link to the document ‘School census 2015 to 2016: COLLECT term-on-term queries’.
  31.  Added a link to the document ‘School census 2015 to 2016: UPN duplicate reports in COLLECT’.
  32.  Added a link to the school census 2015 to 2016 COLLECT guides.
  33.  Added links to 2015 to 2016 school summary report, technical and business specification, XML schema files and validation rules.
  34.  Added ‘School census summer 2015: notepad entries for COLLECT queries’ and ‘School census summer 2015: guide to term-on-term COLLECT checks’.
  35.  Added deadline for autumn 2015 school census, and link to 2015 to 2016 guide for schools and local authorities.
  36.  Added link to ‘School census 2015 to 2016: business and technical specification’.
  37.  Added a link to the ‘school census spring 2015: funding report user guides’.
  38.  Added ‘School census spring 2015: infant class size validation’ to census documents.
  39.  Added links to information about UPN duplicate reports in COLLECT, term-on-term COLLECT checks and notepad entries for COLLECT queries.
  40.  Added link to the Access database for the autumn 2014 collection.
  41.  Added ‘spring 2015: XSLT validation files’ to the technical documents.
  42.  Added links to 2014 to 2015 school census COLLECT guides.
  43.  Added link to school census autumn 2014 to summer 2015: XML schema files.
  44.  Added link to autumn school census zip file.
  45.  Updated with deadlines and guidance for the autumn 2014 to summer 2015 school census.
  46.  Added XSLT files and an Access database for the summer 2014 collection.
  47.  First published.


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