School census

Summer school census 2020

The spring school census takes place on Thursday 21 May 2020.

We ask schools to return their census by Friday 22 May 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 21 May, it will just be a case of running the census and submitting it to the LA.

The Summer Census is the smallest collection of the school year, but still a very important. Pupil premium eligibility is based on records of free school meals from all school census returns, so it important to get this data correct.

The Local Authority also use the summer census is used to produce transition data for secondary schools, and to support with primary assessment data collections.

May Background report

The May background data is used by the LA to supplement the Summer School Census collection with additional information such as Religion, Date of Recent Arrival and SEN type.

The collated data is immensely useful to the authority for reporting achievement and attainment, informing priorities for resources and fulfilling statutory duties.

There are no additional data items for May Background report 2020.

New data items

The DfE will continue to collect exclusions data for the two terms previous to the current census. So, for summer 2020, they will be collecting exclusions information from the autumn 2019 and spring 2020 terms.

In the Spring 2020 census, several schools had not applied final patches to their system which were related to exclusions. This resulted in additional queries from the DfE. Please ensure you keep up to date with the latest versions, patches and releases with your MIS provider to avoid these issues going forward.

Please contact your MIS support provider for guidance on how this information will appear in your system.


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)

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.

COLLECT 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)


Jen Bull
School organisation officer
Phone: 020 8825 5986

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Last updated: 28 Feb 2020