School workforce census (SWC)

The school workforce return is a statutory collection required by the DfE, which this year takes place on the first Thursday in November, which in 2020 is Thursday 5 November. You should make this statutory return using the school workforce census part of your MIS and upload it to collect by Friday 6 November 2020.

Changes to data collected – November 2020 only

The DfE have confirmed that significant reductions have been made to the data collected in the 2020 school workforce census. These include:

  • Absence data is not required,
  • Qualification data is not required
  • Date of last pay review is not required
  • ‘Subject’ and ‘Tenure’ are not required for vacancy data
  • Data on third party support staff is not required, though data on occasional teachers is still needed.

As so many changes have been made this year, please ensure you familiarise yourself with the detailed guidance the DfE have provided for the November 2020 collection: School workforce census guide 2020 (GOV.UK)

DFE specifications

Full DfE guidance is available via the following link: School workforce census: guide to submitting data (GOV.UK)

DfE guidance on school teachers’ pay and conditions can be found on the following link: School teachers' pay and conditions (GOV.UK)

Technical information regarding the school workforce census can be found at the following link: School workforce census 2020: technical information (GOV.UK)

Capita instructions

(Not yet updated for 2020, you can access these via the SIMS Publications Documentation Centre when logged in.)

Preparing for the school workforce return 2019 (pdf)
Producing the school workforce census 2019 return (pdf)
Quick reference sheet – maintaining service term information (pdf)
School workforce errors and resolutions 2019 (pdf)

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.


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

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Last updated: 16 Feb 2021