School census

Autumn school census 2020

The autumn school census takes place on Thursday 1 October 2020.

We ask schools to return their census by Friday 2 October 2020.

We also continue to request that academies submit their return promptly on COLLECT and send us a full CSV export of their census submission as early as possible after census day.

We highly recommend that you perform a trial run prior to census day. Then, hopefully on 1 October, it will just be a case of running the census and submitting it to the LA.

The DFE use the data they receive in autumn school census to decide how much Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) is allocated to the LA for pupils aged 4 and above (at 31 August 2020) in national curriculum year groups reception to year 11 at the time of the census. This informs the DSG to be passed onto schools in the following school year.

SEN high needs funding is also based upon the data you submit in school census. It is therefore extremely important that SEN status ie EHC plan / SEN support and the top up funding flag are completely accurate to ensure funding is allocated properly.

Schools are required to upload details of their On Roll Nursery pupils to the Early Years department monthly to receive funding, so please ensure that all the correct Nursery pupils are admitted in time to be included in the first instalment of funding.

New data items and changes for autumn 2020

The DfE have introduced new data items relating to post 16 for autumn 2020. There are also a number of changes that will be in place just for the autumn 2020 census, due to the cancellation of the summer 2020 census.

Full details can be found in this DfE bulletin (2 July 2020) (pdf)


We recommend that you keep up to date on new developments with school census by attending training where provided by your MIS support provider.

For schools who are with 3BM their online booking for training can be found here:

(Schools without an SLA can also book on to training for an additional fee).

DFE specifications

The DfE are no longer producing pdf booklet guidance, instead guidance is available on the following link:

Complete the school census (GOV.UK)

School census 2020 to 2021 technical information (GOV.UK)

Capita instructions for school census 2020

You can download the handbooks from the Capita website:

SIMS publication centre - select 'handbooks' and then select 'England'

If you require any information regarding MIS file versions or where data should be entered, or how to run the census within your MIS please refer to your MIS technical support provider.

Local authority help guides

Viewing your errors and queries in COLLECT (pdf)

Adding notes for queries in COLLECT (pdf)

Moving a child from OnRoll to OffRoll on COLLECT (pdf)

Sending a CSV export of your school census to the Local Authority (for academies) (pdf)

Part time true/false flag in school census (pdf)


Jen Bull
Data analyst (schools)
Phone: 020 8825 5986

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Last updated: 23 Sep 2020