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Last Updated 14/01/2021 6:31pm
PLEASE NOTE: This document is subject to change as per any DfE guidance issued and is correct at time of publication.
This guide can be read in conjunction with the separate Quick Guides produces for each of the census returns. This guide provides additional information on the school census, e.g. DfE enrolment statuses, as well as indicating where each data item is held within SIMS.net. It is based on information provided by the Department for Education (DfE) in their School Census 2020 to 2021 Guide and Business and Technical Specification. These notes have been produced for Devon LA Maintained Schools only using sims.net only.
Autumn Census: Thu 1st October 2020
Spring Census: Thu 21st January 2021
Summer Census: Thu 20th May 2021
Funding Linked Census Returns
Autumn Census 2020
- Schools funding for the 2021/22 financial year is based on this census. It is therefore vital that your pupil information is complete and accurate.
- The Pupil Premium funding for the 2021/22 financial year is based on this census, in previous years it was based on the Spring Census. It is therefore vital that your pupil information is complete and accurate – Free School Meal eligibility, Post Looked After Arrangements (previously Adopted from Care), Service Children and the Early Years Pupil Premium indicator.
- The take up of Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) informs the Universal Infant Free School Meals Grant so it is important that the School Dinner Taken section of the census is correct (schools with infant pupils only).
- High Needs funding. The Department for Education is using the top-up funding indicator in the new high needs national funding allocation. As such, it is very important that all schools complete census returns correctly and follow the guidance provided.
Spring Census 2021
- The Early Years Block of the school funding allocation to the Local Authority is based on the Spring census, e.g. 2020-21 financial year is based on five twelfths of Spring 2020 Census (Apr 20 to Aug 20) and seven twelfths of Spring 2021 Census (Sep 20 to Mar 21). It is therefore vital that your Early Years pupils and hours is complete and accurate.
- The take up of Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM) informs the Universal Infant Free School Meals Grant so please ensure that you complete the School Dinner Taken section (Schools with infant pupils only).
- High Needs Funding. The Department for Education is using the top-up funding indicator in the new high needs national funding allocation. As such, it is very important that all schools complete census returns correctly and follow the guidance provided.
Introduction from Department for Education
The school census is a statutory return that takes place during the autumn, spring, and summer terms. The census collects information about individual pupils and about the schools themselves. Census data forms a significant part of the DfE’s evidence base and is used;
- in school performance tables
- in statistical first releases
- to evaluate and inform educational policy
- to assess funding to local authorities and schools
As such data accuracy is highly important.
The submission of the school census returns, including a set of named pupil records, is a statutory requirement on schools under section 537A of the Education Act 1996. Putting the school census on a statutory basis:
- Means that schools do not need to obtain parental or pupil consent to the provision of information
- Ensures schools are protected from any legal challenge that they are breaching a duty of confidence to pupils
- Helps to ensure that returns are completed by schools
- Means that all census elements are mandatory unless specifically stated to be voluntary.
Subject to Parliament, the Department for Education intend new Regulations to allow the collection of termly attendance, total number of sessions attending approved educational activity and total number of sessions unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances.
The use of the census for funding
The census is a key source of data used to calculate schools’ funding. It is essential that all schools complete the census accurately and in a timely manner to ensure they are funded correctly. Failure to do so could result in a school missing out on funding to which it is entitled or receiving more funding than it is due and having to repay any overpayment. A range of reports are available in COLLECT to support schools, please see COLLECT reports section.
Accuracy of census data – using summary report
Every school in England has a statutory duty to complete the census each term. The census return in SIMS produces a summary report of the data in the school census file. The summary report will;
- allow all staff preparing the return to check that the data is accurate and complete before passing it to the Headteacher.
- allow the head teacher authorising the return to check it’s accurate and complete before submitting it to the local authority or DfE
- give schools your only opportunity to check information about persistent absenteeism before it’s used for funding purposes and published in performance tables
It is strongly recommended that the summary report is inspected carefully, paying particular attention to;
- those sections that might show that some individual pupil data was not entered on to the system prior to generating the return, e.g. free school meal eligibility, number of pupils with SEN.
- absence data – this should be thoroughly checked.
Schools should compare the summary reports to the previous term or year as this will show any anomalies between the different census collections. It is vital for a school to check the accuracy of data in this summary report as it is this data that is submitted to the DfE as an accurate record of the situation in your school on census day.
DfE Guidance on data protection and data sharing
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018) mandate certain safeguards regarding the use of personal data by organisations, including the department, local authorities and schools. Both give rights to those (known as data subjects) about whom data is processed such as pupils, parents and teachers. These rights include (amongst other information that the department is obliged to provide) the right to know:
- the types of data being held
- why it is being held
- to whom it may be communicated
For the purposes of data protection legislation, the terms ‘process’, ‘processed’ or ‘processing’ apply to any activity involving the personal data, such as:
- etcetera – please note: this list is not exhaustive
As data processors and controllers in their own right, it is important that schools process all data (not just that collected for the purposes of the school census) in accordance with the full requirements of the GDPR. Further information on the GDPR can be found in the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) overview of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The sections below provide additional information on two aspects of data protection legislation – namely privacy notices and data security.
Legal duties under the General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018: privacy notices
Being transparent and providing accessible information to individuals about how you will process their personal data is a key element of GDPR and DPA 2018. The most common way to provide such information is through a privacy notice. Please see the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website for further guidance on privacy notices.
The department provides suggested wording for privacy notices that schools and local authorities may wish to use. However, where the suggested wording is used, the school / local authority must review and amend the wording to reflect local business needs and circumstances. This is especially important, as the school will process data that is not solely for use within census data collections. As such, to comply with GDPR, the privacy notice should contain details of all uses of data within the school, which may include, for example, information used locally for pupil achievement tracking and (where relevant) the use of CCTV data.
The DfE recommend that the privacy notice is included as part of an induction pack for pupils and staff, is made available on the school website for parents and features on the staff notice board / intranet. Privacy notices do not need to be issued on an annual basis, where:
- new pupils and staff are made aware of the notices
- the notices have not been amended
- they are readily available in electronic or paper format
However, it remains best practice to remind parents of the school’s privacy notices at the start of each term (within any other announcements / correspondence to parents), and it is important that any changes made to the way the school processes personal data are highlighted to data subjects.
Legal duties under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018: data security
Schools and local authorities have a (legal) duty under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 to ensure that any personal data they process is handled and stored securely. Further information on data security is available from the Information Commissioners Office.
Where personal data is not properly safeguarded, it could compromise the safety of individuals and damage your school’s reputation. Your responsibility as a data controller extends to those who have access to your data beyond your organisation where they are working on your behalf – for example, where external IT suppliers can remotely access your information. The ‘School procurement: selecting a school MIS’ and ‘Responsible for information’ pages provide further guidance and advice.
It is vital that all staff with access to personal data understand the importance of:
- protecting personal data
- being familiar with your security policy
- putting security procedures into practice
As such, schools should provide appropriate initial and refresher training for your staff.
Where schools chose to use cloud software services, additional information on handling data securely within such environments is available within the department guidance on data protection for schools considering cloud software services.
Information Commissioners Office and Department for Education websites:
Data Security (ICO)
Responsible for Information
Cloud software services:
Which census should early years children be reported in?
Schools with early years provision need to determine which census should record their provision by applying the DfE’s guidance as indicated below;
Schools with funded onsite early years provision make their return via either the school census or the early years census, BUT NOT BOTH. This paragraph confirms which census is to be used to return data on children receiving funded early education:
▪ registered pupils of the school (2, 3 and 4 year olds depending on the statutory age range of the school) are recorded via the school census (and not the early years census).
▪ children (aged 2, 3 and 4) attending a separate Ofsted registered PVI (private voluntary independent) provider on a school site, are recorded via the early years census (and not the school census).
▪ children attending provision provided by a maintained school governing body under Section 27 of the Education Act 2002 [‘s27 (governor run)’] provision should be either:
- recorded via the school census if they are registered pupils of the school (can include 2-year olds if the school’s statutory age range covers 2-year olds); or
- recorded via the early years census if they are not registered pupils of the school.
Where a child’s free entitlement is split between more than one setting, such children may appear on the two different censuses. In such a case, the number of funded hours for each child across all provision is limited to 15 hours (free entitlement) and 15 additional hours (extended entitlement).
Early Years Pupils NCY E2 and E1
Children turning 2 years old fall into the ‘E2’ year group and, if on the schools’ admission register and in receipt of education, they must be included in your census return.
Any younger children falling into the ‘E1’ year group would not be expected to be in receipt of education and should not be on the school’s admissions register. If there is a need to record children in ‘E1’ within your MIS, these should be recorded with an enrolment status of ‘Guest’ and not brought through into the census.
Enrolment status guidance
The pupil enrolment status ensures funding is accurately targeted. It is important that each pupil recorded within the school census be assigned a correct enrolment status. This ensures the pupil is correctly registered at a school in line with the pupil registration regulations. Pupils recorded as ‘guest’ will not be included in the census return. Sample scenarios of pupil enrolment status are provided below.
1. Managed Moves
Where a pupil is on a managed move, the pupil will be dual registered at the original school and the receiving school. The financial arrangements between the schools are a matter for their mutual agreement, but it is important to be able to identify pupils in this situation.
While the pupil is on a managed move:
- the original school maintains the pupil’s record with an enrolment status of ‘M’ (current main – dual registration)
- the receiving school maintains the pupil’s record with an enrolment status of ‘S’ (current subsidiary – dual registration)
2. Traveller Pupils
A traveller pupil may attend another school during periods when his/her parent is travelling in the course of trade or business. It is recommended that for the duration of this period:
- The ordinary school of attendance maintains the pupil’s record with an enrolment status of M (current main – dual registration)
- The receiving school maintains the pupil’s record with an Enrolment status of S (current subsidiary – dual registration)
3. Family Units
In many areas, early education is being provided in schools whose proprietors also provide wider childcare and/or family support services. Often, the proprietor wishes to maintain a single management information system for all the children it serves and equally often it is the school management information system that is used for this purpose. When submitting information for census purposes, it is important to distinguish between those children who are receiving early education from those who are receiving other services.
It is recommended that:
- For children receiving early education, the school/establishment maintains the pupil’s record with an Enrolment Status of C (current single registration)
- For children receiving childcare provision but not early education, the school / establishment maintains the pupil’s record with an Enrolment Status of G (guest – not a pupil at the school).
4. External candidates
Occasionally adults are registered at a school for them to enter an examination and, perhaps, receive some level of tuition towards this aim. In such cases the providing school maintains the adult’s record with an enrolment status of ‘G’ (guest – not a pupil at the school).
5. Approved educational activity
Some schools have registered pupils who attend approved educational activity. An approved educational activity is either: an activity that takes place outside the school premises which is of an educational nature, approved by the school and supervised by someone authorised by the school; or attendance at another school at which the pupil is registered (as set out in regulation 6(4) of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006).
When the pupil is attending an approved activity outside the school premises (not at another school) the pupil should be recorded with an enrolment status of ‘C’ (current – single registration at this school).
When the pupil is attending another school, they will be dual registered:
- the ordinary school of attendance maintains the pupil’s record with an enrolment status of ‘M’ (current main – dual registration)
- the other school maintains the pupil’s record with an enrolment status of ‘S’ (current subsidiary – dual registration)
6. Hospital Special Schools – Dually Registered Pupils
Pupils attending a ‘hospital special school’ should only be recorded on the register if they are receiving education provision. They should not be recorded if they are only attending the hospital for hospital check ups, day surgery, any other form of medical appointment or an operation.
Where a pupil is registered at a mainstream school and receives education at the hospital special school, the pupil will be dual registered:
- the mainstream school maintains the pupil’s record with an enrolment status of ‘M’ (current main – dual registration)
- the hospital special school maintains the pupil’s record with an enrolment status of ‘S’ (current subsidiary – dual registration)
Where a pupil is originally solely registered at the hospital special school and then also begins to attend a mainstream school as part of a reintegration programme, the pupil will be dual registered with the hospital special school holding the ‘main registration’ and the mainstream school holding the subsidiary registration.
7. Post 16 Overseas Pupils
Some students, who are not citizens of the UK, who are attending state-funded schools and 16 to 19 academies may be eligible to receive public funding. The funding regulations1 provide full rules to determine which overseas students can be funded.
For post-16 students, there is a distinction between “overseas” and “home” students;
- overseas students are not eligible to receive public funding,
- home students are eligible to receive public funding.
Overseas students are those students who have tier 4 (student) visas. Such students are not permitted to enter the UK to attend a state-funded school or 16 to 19 academy. They may enter the country to attend a non-maintained special school, independent school or FE provider which is a registered Tier 4 sponsor.
Post-16 overseas or exchange pupils on the school register on census day should be recorded with an enrolment status of ‘G’ (guest – not a pupil at the school) and therefore not included on the school census returns.
All Schools must be able to reconcile School Census to the admission register and any differences resolved before the return is made. Comparison of the various information sources in school will assist in reconciliation of the return.
In the unlikely event you discover an error in the pupils included in your School Census return, it is essential that you notify the Head of Education and Learning (via the Education Information Team) in writing.
Guidance about every piece of information you need to include in the census in autumn, spring and summer can be found on the DfE webpages for the census and data items.
Free School Meal legislation changes
To minimise the impact of the rollout of universal credit and the introduction of an income threshold for eligibility purposes, transitional arrangements are in place to ensure that no pupil loses a meal as a result of these changes.
The transitional protections ensure that any pupil in receipt of free school meals on 31 March 2018 or after, should continue to receive free school meals until the end of the universal credit roll out period, and then until their phase of education ends. This covers until at least Summer 2023 and applies even if their circumstances change and they would no longer meet the eligibility criteria.
Consequently, schools should not enter FSM end dates in the school census unless;
- a parent has said that they do not wish the child to be recorded as eligible for free school meals and receive a free school meal
- a pupil transfers from another UK country – their non-English free school meals must have an end date
- a parent notifies the school that their support under the Immigration & Asylum Act 1999 or the pension credit has ended
- If an end date is required against a pupil’s free school meal record, then a suitable note will need to be added to your census in COLLECT. For example, parent has been informed that the FSM is protected but they wish to cancel their claim.
- The DfE transitional status only applies at a child claim level and not at family level. This means that a claim must be made for each child as there is no longer an automatic entitlement resulting from siblings already being eligible.
Further information is available from the following webpages.
Data checks not undertaken by Devon County Council
Due to changing service priorities and reduced resources the School Census checking service has been streamlined. The following checks are no longer undertaken and it is the school’s responsibility to ensure the accuracy of data;
1. Free School Meals
2. Post Looked After Arrangements (prev. Adopted from Care)
3. Universal Infant Free School Meals
4. Post 16 Learning Aims
1. Free school meals (FSM)
Schools should check that the pupils recorded in the school census as being eligible for free school meals is accurate. Census data should be compared against the latest pupil listing provided by Devon County Council’s Free School Meal Team and any subsequent email notifications relating to individual applications. To assist schools, the census has a ‘Free School Meal Eligibility’ Detailed Report which lists all pupils in the return with a free school meal record.
NOTE: The FSM pupil listing (as provided by the FSM Team) includes pupils where eligibility has been checked by the DCC Free School Meal Team. Pupils with transitional status from another LA may not appear. For further guidance please refer to the Free School Meal Team.
Free school meals and new pupils: CTFs for any new pupils admitted to your school include any free school meal eligibility from the pupil’s previous school. The pupil’s record in SIMS may therefore need amending for the school census depending on the pupil’s circumstances;
- If the pupil is transferring from another LA Maintained school within Devon no action needs to be taken in the census as the free school meal eligibility will still be relevant to the pupil. You will need to email the Free School Meals Team firstname.lastname@example.org with the pupil’s details and start date.
- If the pupil is transferring from another County, free school meal eligibility will still be relevant to the pupil, as per transitional protection. If the transitional status cannot be confirmed as indicated in the three steps below, you will need to refer the case to the Free School Meals Team by emailing email@example.com with the child’s details and the previous Local Authority. The FSM Team will then seek to manually confirm that the child does have transitional status.
Please note the DfE advise that there are three steps to checking if a pupil should be receiving transitional protections:
Step 1: the school should consult the pupil’s Common Transfer File. This is a form that should be completed whenever a child moves school (either as an in-year transfer, or if moving from primary to secondary). The form should indicate whether the pupil was previously eligible for FSM – if they were, they should be receiving transitional protections.
Step 2: if the Common Transfer File does not provide the required information, the school should contact the pupil’s previous school or local authority to find out if they were previously eligible for FSM. If they were, they should be receiving transitional protections.
Step 3: if the previous school/LA are unable to provide this information, the school or local authority should check their Key to Success download. This will indicate whether the pupil was previously eligible for FSM – if they were, they should be receiving transitional protections.
Should schools have any Free School Meal eligibility queries please email the Free School Meal team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Pupils in receipt of FSM inform pupil premium funding.
2. Post looked after arrangements (prev. adopted from care)
Schools need to ensure that pupils recorded in the previous school census as being Post Looked After Arrangements continue to be recorded in the current census. Schools should check the previous census Post Looked After Arrangement Detailed Report and ensure that pupils listed in the report are also appearing in this census.
Note: Children who have left care for one of the reasons in this category inform pupil premium
3. Universal Infant Free School Meal
Schools need to check the School Dinner Taken panel of the census each time a census file is generated and uploaded to COLLECT. There have been occasions historically where schools have uploaded amended census files and information in this section has not been retained. Where schools have to generate amended census files, a copy of the original authorised census file should be taken. Taking a copy ensures that data held in the original return will also be in the amended return.
When the copy file is opened the ‘Create and Validate’ button should be clicked and not ‘Calculate All Details’. If schools ‘Calculate All Details’ then any data added manually, such as the school dinners taken will be removed.
Note: if this section has not been completed the census will generate query 1878Q Please check: No infant pupils are recorded as having a school lunch on census day. To assist schools, there is a ‘School Dinner Taken’ detail report which lists pupils who have been recorded as taking a school dinner on census day.
4. Post 16 learning aims
The DfE have produced an interactive school census tool aimed at helping schools return accurate data. The tool will help schools understand how their data is used to calculate their post 16 funded as well as how common data errors affect their funding. The interactive post 16 school census tool can be found via this link.
Schools with sixth forms need to check their learning aims to ensure that students do not start a qualification after the approval need date has passed (unless they are re-taking the course). Where students are undertaking re-sits the final assessment or examination must be taken before the certification end date. Schools should also ensure that the latest discount codes are used (these can change).
When schools want to use a QN that has an approval end date in the near future, they must check with awarding organisations to find out whether the qualification is being extended or replaced.
Checks should also be undertaken to ensure that the planned end dates and actual end dates are correct (historically there have been glitches in software that altered these dates). The prior attainment in Maths and English GCSE needs to be recorded against pupils as this is a condition of funding.
School census preparation
To prepare for each census, it is recommended that schools complete a dry-run as soon as possible to check for validations errors and to examine the Summary and Detailed reports which should bring any errors/omissions to your attention. This gives schools time to amend the data (most of which is date specific) before the census date. Please make sure any other members of staff involved in this process (including those dealing with attendance and exclusions) are given enough notice.
You are advised to check the following:
- All new pupils are on your MIS system, including pupils who deferred entry until this term.
- Any leavers have been properly removed from the system.
- Periods of Free School Meal eligibility are up to date.
Note: Pupil Premium funding is generated by full-time pupils in Years R-11 who are/have been eligible for Free School Meals during the last six years (except pupils aged 5 or over with Subsidiary Registration or whose FSM Country was Wales, Scotland or North. Ireland).
- Special Education Needs pupils are properly recorded (remember that pupils on SEN Support or who have an EHCP also need a SEN Need Type, e.g. SLD, ASD and may also need a Resourced Provision or Special Unit indicator).
- Service children are recorded in sims.
Note: Pupil Premium will be generated for Service Children in years R-11 who are single or dual main registered.
- Schools with pupils aged two, three or four on 31/08/20 have entered Hours at Setting, Funded Hours and Extended Childcare Hours (See Early Years section in each quick guide for any additional data requirements)
- Primary and all-through schools should check you have not included pupils in Governor run pre-schools. Funding for these pupils is via Early Years Census and not School Census. For further clarification please see section ‘Which census should Early Years children be reported in’. If you have entered these children on SIMS ensure their enrolment status is Guest so that they are excluded from the census (via Tools | Pupils | Change Enrolment Status).
- Schools with Part-Time pupils in Reception or Nursery must be recorded as such. However, statutory age pupils on part-time timetables or flexi-schooling arrangements must be recorded as full-time and the school is deemed to be ‘authorising’ the agreed times when a pupil is absent.
- All Schools except Nursery must ensure that attendance data for the previous term is free of missing marks and N codes. N codes (No reason given) should only be used temporarily and as it counts as an unauthorised absence it will impact on your performance data.
- Ensure exclusions data is accurate, census collects exclusions for the previous two terms
- Top-up Funding indicators have been applied.
- Post Looked After Arrangements indicators have been applied.
- Schools with pupils in Year 8 and above should check the Youth Services Support Agreement information is up to date.
Sims upgrade version
Schools must have upgraded to the latest version of sims and imported the latest fileset as indicated in each census quick guide. If you are a hosted school, ScoMIS will apply this automatically for you. Non-hosted schools need to import the fileset and further details can be found on their website here. If you are encountering difficulties in upgrading please contact ScoMIS on 01392 385300 and send an email notification to email@example.com.
As you are aware it is not unusual to have School Census filesets containing fixes issued close to the census date. It is therefore important that schools check the ScoMIS webpage for the latest information on any further filesets
If this is the first time that you are running a school census or need further advice please email firstname.lastname@example.org and someone from the Education Information Team will contact you to provide guidance and support.
Running the census
Information on running each census can be found in the relevant quick guide on our website.
The quick guide provides information on each of the sections to be completed within the census process and is based on information from the DFE School Census guide and CAPITA sims Preparing and Producing the School Census guides.
Resolving errors and queries
Once the create and validate process is complete the following screen will appear at the bottom of the census window. You can click on the Report icon to print a report of the errors and queries.
Red error messages (type F) must be corrected and cleared whilst black queries (type Q) are acceptable as long as the data is true. If you have black queries that are true you will need to add an explanatory note in COLLECT.
Using the summary and detailed reports
Once you have cleared your errors and checked your queries you should print the summary and detail reports to check that the information is correct, for example; number of pupils eligible for free school meals, SEN status of your pupils.
SIMS.net cannot know if there are pupils missing, exclusions missing or that pupils have left (if they haven’t been given a leaving date or a reason for leaving) etc. You must check the summary and detail reports thoroughly. The absence of any validation errors or queries does not guarantee a successful return!
Uploading your census file to COLLECT
All schools must upload and submit their census return direct via COLLECT, which is available via the DfE Sign In portal.
Checking your file and adding notes in COLLECT
Once you have uploaded your file into COLLECT you can then check immediately for any queries that might have been generated and enter explanatory and/or confirmation notes (there is no longer any need to wait 24 hours before checking).
It is advisable to check your file in COLLECT as Term on Term queries are only generated in COLLECT (they do not appear in SIMS). Even though the return might show 0 errors and 0 queries on the front screen, please Open the Return to check (some queries are not visible in the initial screen).
To assist you, a list of the Department for Education’s acceptable notes for queries commonly generated in COLLECT is available in each census quick guide.
NOTE: Please ensure your notes adhere to the minimum acceptable note criteria in order to meet the Department for Education requirements. Failure to meet the minimum acceptable note criteria may delay authorisation of your statutory return.
There are a number of reports within the COLLECT portal available to help schools validate their data and check data used in the census to inform funding allocations. All available reports can be accessed via the ‘launch reports’ button on the school ‘source page’ of COLLECT.
Note: Some reports are populated overnight and therefore where new files are loaded or data is amended on screen, this may not be reflected in the reports until the following day.
Pupil number report
This report provides a headcount of your pupils by NC year group, plus a headcount of your pupils minus subsidiary registrations. It also provides the number of pupils that will be used in numerous funding streams including the dedicated schools grant calculation.
Duplicate UPN and duplicate pupil report
The duplicate UPN report shows any pupils appearing on your census and that of another school where there is an invalid combination of enrolment statuses. Your school’s funding may be affected if these remain unresolved within the census. The duplicate pupil report identifies pupils whose personal details are the same but the UPN differs. Please refer to the DfE’s Duplicate reports guidance available on the DfE census webpages.
Free school meals report (FSM)
Allows schools to check the FSM eligibility data submitted in their census return. This report refers only to FSM eligibility reported in the current census and not the FSM ever measure used to allocate the pupil premium.
Universal Infant Free School Meals (UiFSM)
This provides a breakdown of the infant pupils the DfE will use in the UiFSM funding calculation.
Zero funded hours
Highlights the number of early years pupils who have ‘zero’ funded hours recorded on the school census return. The DfE use funded hours to calculate the early years block of the dedicated schools grant, therefore, it is important that schools check and verify this data.
Pupil premium (now based on autumn census)
Allows schools to check and verify the data contained in their census, which will feed into the deprivation, service child and post looked after child (LAC) elements of the pupil premium allocation (now based on pupils on roll in the autumn term, previously based on spring term).
Early years pupil premium
Allows schools to check and verify the data contained in their spring school census which the DfE use for the early years pupil premium allocations.
Post 16 funding reports
Schools will be able to access a series of ESFA funding reports in the autumn census which show schools the data the DfE will use for their post-16 funding calculations;
Funded student summary report, student detail report and 16 to 19 Maths & English GCSE status by student.
Schools are strongly advised to use these reports to help quality assure census returns.
Help and Support
If you need some assistance in completing your return, further help is available:
Education Information Team:
Quick guides for each census return are available via our website.
If this is the first time that you are running a school census or need further advice please email email@example.com and someone from the Education Information Team will contact you to provide guidance and support.
For the latest SIMS information please search for school census on the Scomis website.
Schools with service level agreements may also contact Scomis for technical support on 01392 385300.
Department for Education:
School census guides for submitting data can be found via the DfE webpages.
Pupil Level Data in SIMS
For each pupil the information to be provided in the census is listed below.
This information will be included in each term’s census unless otherwise stated or a pupil has left:
The following information is held in sims in Focus | Pupil | Pupil Details
|Legal Forename||In full, not shortened or familiar versions|
|Middle Name(s):||In full, not shortened or familiar versions. If the pupil has no middle name(s) then this field must be left blank|
|Legal Surname||Full legal surname, as the school believes it to be (schools are not expected to have verified this from a birth certificate or other legal document).|
|Preferred Surname||The surname most commonly used in the school and shown in full and not shortened or familiar versions. Not required if pupil is no longer on roll|
|Former Surname||This should only be completed if a former surname is already known to the school; otherwise this field should be left blank. Schools need not, and should not, take any special steps to establish the existence of former surnames of which they are not already aware. If the pupil has more than one former surname, record the most recently used. Previous names can be recorded within Pupil’s Basic Details by clicking on the ‘History’ button in this section.|
|Date of Birth||Must be present and correct and in dd/mm/yyyy format.|
|Gender:||M (male) or F (female)
Gender should be self-declared and recorded according to the wishes of the parent and / or pupil. Individuals are free to change the way their gender is recorded. There is no requirement from the DfE for any legal change or gender recognition certificate and it remains open for the school to amend the gender of any pupil at any time.
|Enrolment status||Must be one of the following;
C – current (single registration at the school)
M – main dual registered (i.e. main school for a dually registered pupil)
S – subsidiary dual registered (i.e. subsidiary school for a dually registered pupil). The DfE do not fund subsidiary dual registered pupils.
G – guest pupil, i.e. pupil not registered at this school but attending for some lessons or sessions (see below). Guest pupils will NOT be included in your School Census return since they are not properly on the register of the school.If the pupil already has an enrolment status but it needs to be amended, go to Routines | Pupil | Change Enrolment Status. Guidance on enrolment status for the following scenarios can be found in section Enrolment Status Guidance.1. Managed Moves
2. Traveller Pupils
3. Family Units
4. External Candidates
5. Approved Educational Activity
6. Hospital Special Schools – Dually registered pupils
7. Post 16 Overseas Pupils (incl. Whitehouse Guardianship)
|Admission Date||This is the latest date of entry to the current school. It must be on or before the current census date for the pupil to be recorded on the School Census.
Pupils who are transferring from Nursery to Reception in the same school should NOT be given new entry dates.
Students who are transferring from Year 11 to Year 12 in the same school should NOT be removed from the admissions register and are NOT given new entry dates.
|Former UPNs||This field can be blank. Where there is a former UPN e.g. a temporary UPN that has been replaced by a permanent one, this should be included. It is expected to be in the correct format but as former UPNs cannot be amended in sims any incorrect formats will need to be amended direct in COLLECT.
Where a pupil is adopted, a new unique pupil number (UPN) is issued with no link or reference made to their former UPN. You must not add the previous UPN for an adopted pupil in this field.
|UPNs||Make sure all pupils have a Unique Pupil Number. To issue a UPN click on the Generate UPN button in Sims. It should only be necessary to issue a new UPN when a pupil first enters the maintained school sector in England or Wales.
If a pupil has transferred from another school (including LA designated Nursery Schools or Units) and you have no record of the UPN please contact the ScoMIS helpdesk firstname.lastname@example.org who will be able to assist you.
Adopted pupils should have new UPNs and no link to their former UPNs. However, there may be exceptions to this. For further advice please contact the ScoMIS helpdesk.
Temporary UPNs may only be issued as an interim measure until the permanent UPN is obtained. For further information see the government website.
(Unique Learner Numbers – All pupils aged 14 and over on census day, or pupils no longer on roll who were 14 at leaving date)
|Unique Learner Numbers (ULNs) are currently assigned to students aged 14 and over in publicly funded education and training. They are allocated and managed by the Learning Records Service and remain with the individual for their lifetime.
Schools can acquire and verify ULNs for their students and make minor updates to student data (e.g. changes to student’s address) by sending partial CTFs to the Learning Record Service via S2S (accessed via DfE Sign In portal). A partial CTF will be returned to the school with the required ULNs.
Further information on S2S is available via the government website.
Schools can also search direct on the Learning Record Service website.
Further information on the Learning Record Service is available via the government website.
|Year Taught In (actual NCY)||The year group in which the pupil is taught in for the majority of their time, irrespective of their chronological age
E1 early first year aged (aged 0-1) *
Children turning 2 years old fall into the ‘E2’ year group. If they are recorded on the school’s admission register and in receipt of education, they must be included in the census return.
The DfE do not expect any younger children who fall into the ‘E1’ year group to be in receipt of education and should not be on the school’s admissions register. If schools need to record children in ‘E1’ they should not be included in the census
|Boarder||B (boarder) or N (not a boarder, i.e. day pupil), or,
in Special Schools: 6 Boards six nights or fewer a week
7 Boards seven nights a week
|Part-time Indicator: (Schools with Nursery or Reception pupils only)||A pupil is full-time if they are in education for 10 sessions per week. A pupil who attends for 9 (or fewer) sessions is part-time. It does not indicate that a pupil is part-time at one or more establishments.
A part-time pupil must have a start date in the Part-time Details panel under Registration. The date must be before the census date and is usually the same as the date of admission. For a pupil to be recorded as full-time this section must be blank or if there is a start date, the end date must be before the census date.
Note: a session is either a morning or an afternoon
Children in receipt of funded early education
Compulsory school-age pupils on a part-time timetable are not present at school for part of the week or day. They are not attending approved educational activity and are therefore absent from school. In agreeing to the part-time timetable the school has agreed to the absence and must therefore record it as an authorised absence. This ensures that the school has a record of the amount of education a pupil has missed and helps identify pupils that might need additional support. Schools cannot record the pupil as ‘not required to attend’ or that the school was closed to the pupil in question as this would contravene the regulations.
Therefore compulsory school-age pupils on a part-time timetable should be recorded as full-time with the appropriate absence code used for the sessions when they are not required to attend. For further guidance please see the school attendance website.
Address – Home Information
Schools are asked to provide current home address for all pupils (during term time). The expectation is that you will be able to provide a valid home address for the great majority of your pupils (including boarding pupils). Boarding pupils from abroad should be recorded with their ‘home’ address as the address where they reside during term time, which may be the school’s address. If a second address is an overseas address, validation errors on the postcode can be ignored. Where a child has multiple addresses (i.e. where the child lives with both parents at different stages of the week) both addresses should be supplied.
Whilst every effort must be made to obtain these pupil details, in extreme cases this may not be possible. In such extreme cases fields can be left blank or a partial address can be supplied and the validation errors ignored.
You may find the Royal Mail website of use in finding addresses and postcodes.
For an address to be included in the census the start date for the address must be before the census date and must be the pupil’s home address.
If you have an apartment number you must also have a house number or house name.
If you have a house number you must have a street name
If you have a street name you must have a house number or house name.
You do not necessarily need a street name if you have a house name e.g. Great Coleford Farm, Stoodleigh etc.
Unique property reference number (UPRN): this is a unique identifier for every address in Great Britain. It is collected on a voluntary basis and is returned alongside the full address where it is automatically populated within school systems (using OS AddressBase).
Schools are not expected to collect, or look up, the UPRN. If your school system does not have this functionality there is no change for you, you should continue to submit the address in the same format.
Dietary – Free School Meals Eligibility
Free School Meal Eligibility is used by the DfE to determine the Pupil Premium allocations for schools and, as such, it is essential that this data is correctly recorded on the School Census.
Due to the recent changes in Free School Meal legislation, it is not expected that FSM end dates will be returned in the school census during the transitional period unless the pupil meets one of the exceptions as indicated in the section Free School Meal Legislation Changes.
Pupils should be recorded as eligible only if they meet the FSM eligibility criteria (in relation to family income) where a claim has been made by them or on their behalf and either,
- the LA has confirmed that they are entitled to free school meals, or
- the school or the LA has seen the necessary documentation that shows entitlement to free school meals.
Free School Meal start dates are entered in the Dietary panel in sims, the start date must be before census.
- an FSM End Date is not expected unless there are exceptional circumstances (please see transitional arrangements in the section Free School Meal Legislation Changes).
- The Country indicator for new periods of eligibility defaults to England.
- Only periods of eligibility in England will accrue Pupil Premium under the Ever 6 criteria. A pupil who transfers to you from Wales who has been eligible within the past 6 years in Wales will not receive Pupil Premium but a pupil who has been eligible in the past who has been eligible in England will receive Pupil Premium.
- Pupil Premium only applies if the pupil is in NCY R-11 and is Solely Registered or Dual Registered Main.
Infant pupils who are entitled to Universal Infant Free School Meals should not automatically be recorded as being eligible for Free School Meals. They must also meet the Free School Meal criteria (in relation to family income).
Early years pupils: The Education (School Lunches) (Prescribed Requirements) (England) Order 2003 describes an additional requirement for children who have not attained compulsory school age but receive education in a maintained setting. These children must be registered pupils and be ‘receiving education both before and after the lunch period’ before being eligible for free school meals.
Further information on eligibility is available from the school meals web pages or by contacting the Education Helpline on 0345 155 1019.
School Census eligibility is based on Start and End dates, NOT the tick boxes.
|Ethnicity||Ethnicity is collected for all pupils and records the ethnicity as stated by the parent / guardian or pupil. The school must not ascribe any ethnicity to the pupil. This information must come from the parent / guardian or pupil. Where the ethnicity has not yet been collected this is recorded as ‘NOBT’ (information not yet obtained). Where a parent / guardian or pupil declines to provide ethnicity data, code ‘REFU’ (refused) is recorded and returned.
A list of ethnic codes used in Devon Schools is available in the ‘Additional guidance and templates’ section of our website.
NOTE: If you enter this information after the census date you will also need to go into History to back date this information, alternatively you can use Bulk Update and back date the ‘effective’ dates. Guidance on Bulk Update can be found under Additional Guidance and Templates on the above website.
|First Language||Language is collected for all pupils and records the language as stated by the parent / guardian / child. The school must not ascribe a specific language to the pupil.
Where a pupil’s first language is not English – that is: where the child has been exposed to a language other than English during early development and continues to be exposed to this language in the home or in the community – schools may record specific languages from the extended language code set.
ENB (Not known but believed to be English) and OTB (Not known but believed to be other than English) should only be used where all the following apply
Where a parent/guardian or pupil declines to provide a first language code REF (refused) can be used.
NOTE: If you enter this information after the census date you will also need to go into History to backdate this information, alternatively you can use Bulk Update and back date the ‘effective’ dates.
|Youth Support Services Agreement
All pupils aged 12 and over as at 31/08/20
|There is a legal requirement under the Education and Skills Act 2008 for schools to pass information on request to the youth support services (Careers South West for Devon Maintained Schools) for students in or approaching the age of 13. The information which schools are required to provide consists of:
a) The names and addresses of students and their parents – this must be provided to the youth support services;
Parents – or pupils themselves if aged 16 or over – have the right to object to any information (over and above name, address and date of birth) being shared with the youth support services. As part of the schools’ privacy notice, you must advise parents / pupils of their right to object.
Acceptable Codes are:
Yes – permission has been given by the parent or guardian
|Service Children in Education||The Service Children Indicator (in Section 9. Additional Information) is used by the DfE to determine the Pupil Premium allocation for schools so it is essential that this data item is correctly recorded on the School Census. The school must not ascribe the service child indicator to the pupil. This information must come from the parent / guardian or pupil.
A service child has parent(s) – or person(s) with exercising parental responsibility – who is/are service personnel serving;
Please note that reserve units (e.g. the Territorial Army) are not classed as the regular armed forces and these pupils should not be recorded as Service Children on the School Census. However where a reserve soldier is acting in a full time capacity, this is classified as regular service
The Service Children indicator is only relevant to children whose parents are designated as Personal Category 1 or 2 (all parents will be aware of their Personal Category). Further information on MOD Personnel categories is available from the government website.
|Learner Support Code (Schools with sixth form only)||The Learner Support Code indicates the type of financial support awarded to students aged 16 to 19 as at 31/08/20. The census captures two types of financial support awarded via the 16-19 bursary fund support:
Whilst schools may be able to record other types of financial support in their systems, the School Census only collects codes 55 and 56.
The learner support code is collected for all pupils who have been awarded bursary funding in the current academic year. This may include pupils who have left the school since the start of the academic year. For dual registered pupils, the school holding the main registration for the pupil is responsible for awarding the bursary fund and returning the required data.
During the academic year the circumstances of a student awarded the discretionary element may change and they could become part of a designated vulnerable group. In such circumstances, the individual would also qualify for the award of the vulnerable payment (on a pro-rata basis for the academic year). For example, a student may be awarded the discretionary element in September and then the vulnerable group bursary in the following February. In such a situation, code 56 would be returned in the Spring School Census and both code 56 and code 55 in the Summer School Census.
Information about whether a student is actually in receipt of funding is not required for the school census. The purpose of the collection is to establish how many students have been awarded bursary funding in the academic year.
Further information is available at the following webpages;
School History (plus Routines | Pupil | Leavers)
Date of Leaving –
This is the date the pupil left the current school and identifies pupils who are no longer on the school’s roll. It is collected in the census for pupils of statutory school age who have attendance data in the previous term and have left the school or permanently excluded pupils (no longer on roll).
A pupil is recorded as a leaver in sims via Routines | Pupil | Leavers. Please remember that for a pupil to be correctly recorded as a leaver they need a ‘reason for leaving’ to be recorded as well as the date of leaving.
Special Education Needs
The following fields are in Focus | Pupil | SEN or via the pupil in Pupil Details and then SEN in the Links section to the right of the screen.
|SEN Provision (i.e. Status)||SEN Status codes are as follows:
E Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) *
* You must ensure that in each census return the Member of SEN unit or Member of resourced provision indicator is completed. In the Spring Term census the SEN Needs Type must also be completed. Please see below for further details.
Note: Please ensure the Start date for the SEN status at the time of the census is before the census date. If it isn’t a previous status may be recorded in the school census in error.
|SEN Needs Type and Ranking (Spring Term only)||If the SEN status is K (SEN support) or E (Education Health Care Plan) you must also record the pupil’s main or primary need (Rank 1) and, if appropriate, their secondary need (Rank 2). You may record more for your own purposes but only the first two will appear in the School Census.
If the pupil has an EHCP it is very important that the main primary need (Rank 1) matches the information on the plan.
Valid codes for the school census are listed below:
Note: the DfE advise that the NSA option should only be used in very rare instances where a pupil is placed on SEN Support but the school is still assessing what the primary need is. For example, where a child on SEN support has transferred into the school shortly before school census day. Code ‘NSA’ must not be used without the pupil having an appropriate SEN provision in place.
|Member of SEN Unit and/or resourced provision indicator
(not Special Schools)
|This information is required for SEN pupils if applicable. This indicator identifies pupils with SEN who are members of a SEN Unit or who receive support for their type of SEN from a specialist resourced provision. The available options for the census are;
There are other codes in sims which may be used in addition to those above for your own purposes but these other categories do not transfer to school census.
SEN Units are special provisions within a mainstream school where the children with SEN are taught mainly within separate classes for at least half of their time. Units:
NOTE: Schools should only use this indicator where the SEN unit has been formally recognised as such by the LA.
Most pupils placed in units will have an EHCP. It is unlikely that a child would be in a unit and receive support from resourced provision, but a school could have resourced provision for one type of need and a unit for another.
Resourced provisions are places reserved at a mainstream school for pupils with a specific type of SEN, taught for at least half of their time within mainstream classes, but requiring a base and some specialist facilities around the school. Resourced provisions:
NOTE: Schools should only use this indicator where the resourced provision has been formally recognised as such by the LA.
It is extremely unlikely that a child would be placed in a unit and also received support from a resourced provision, but a school could have resourced provision for one type of need and a unit for another.
Exclusions (all schools except nursery)
Information on exclusions is normally collected for the previous two terms. However due to the absence of the Summer 2020 census, the autumn 2020 census will be collecting any exclusion that occurred in the 2019/20 academic year.
Schools are only expected to provide data about a permanent exclusion once it has been upheld by the governing body or Independent Review Panel (IRP). The DfE advise that collecting data for the previous two terms will make sure that any exclusions still going through the review process at time of the census are not missed and would be picked up in the following term, where the review result was later determined as upheld.
This means some exclusions may be returned on two consecutive censuses. This will not result in double counting of exclusions in national statistics, as only the latest information returned for each term will be used.
The table below illustrates the normal collection period;
|Autumn Term||Autumn, spring and summer term in the previous academic year (to accommodate the absence of the summer 2020 census)|
|Spring Term||Summer term from the previous academic year
Autumn term in the same academic year
|Summer Term||Autumn and Spring terms in the same academic year|
Full information on exclusions can be found on the Department for Education’s School Exclusion webpages.
Adding an exclusion in SIMS.net:
You can either select Focus | Pupil | Exclusions, or you can open the pupil’s record and click on Exclusion in the Links panel (right of the screen);
Click on New in the Exclusions page and enter the exclusion details in the “Add Exclusion” screen, click ‘Ok’ (bottom of the screen) and then click on ‘Save’ in the Exclusion Details screen save the pupil’s record.
To edit or amend existing data, click in the appropriate exclusion record and click open. If data has been entered in error, click on Delete.
Note: When entering exclusion details, if the pupil has left since the exclusion, you will need to make a note of, then remove, his/her date of leaving and reason for leaving. This will make the record ‘live’ again which will allow you to add the exclusion or make the necessary changes. Once you have finished and saved your changes add the date of leaving and reason for leaving to the pupil’s record.
Permanent exclusions and school leaving date
Where a pupil is permanently excluded, the exclusion start date is unlikely to be the same as the pupil leaving date, as the pupil will remain on the school’s roll for a period after the exclusion start date to allow for the exclusion review process to take place. Only once the review process has concluded may a school leaving date be entered.
Information collected for an exclusion record is listed below.
|Type||You must indicate the type of exclusion:
FIXD Fixed Period *
* You must enter a Start Time (as well as a Start Date) for these types of exclusion in SIMS.net but this is not collected in the School Census.
|Exclusion Reason||In the autumn 2020 school census, for exclusions with a start date in the previous academic year, only one reason per exclusion is permitted to be returned.
However, from the start of the autumn term 2020, up to 3 reasons can be recorded for each exclusion (where applicable) with the first collection of this data taking place in the spring 2021 census. There is no requirement to order the reasons, as each will be presented as unweighted counts in statistical outputs.
The exclusion categories have been expanded upon this year and include 5 new reasons (indicated with an * in the next table).
following the expansion of the above categories and the collection of multiple reasons, ‘other’ is no longer recorded as a category.
|Exclusion Start Date||The exclusion start date should reflect the date that the Head teacher asked the pupil to leave the school (not the date at which the decision is upheld by the governing body, independent review panel, etc).
The DfE advise that only exclusions that have been upheld and the pupil has not been offered reinstatement should be included.
|Actual number of sessions excluded
(length in school days)
|In the Exclusion record in sims, there is a Calculate button that will do this for you, providing you also enter an End date.
For each fixed period exclusion the calculation is based each full school day counting as two sessions with a half school day counting as one session. However, SIMS does not calculate sessions correctly if there is a discontinuous exclusion, for example;
a pupil is excluded for two days (Monday and Tuesday) but Tuesday is a work experience day which he attends, so Wednesday is his second exclusion day. If you enter Monday – Wednesday in SIMS it will calculate that as 6 sessions. You therefore need to manually adjust the number of sessions to 4 (two day exclusion).
a pupil is excluded for six sessions starting on a Monday. However, the pupil is registered with another provider on the Wednesday – where no exclusion is in place. This means the pupil is excluded from the school for sessions on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. The other provider would record the pupil’s attendance on the Wednesday separately.
(at time of exclusion)
|For each exclusion record returned, the SEN provision at the time of the exclusion is automatically generated within the census (there is no need to manually enter any information in the exclusion record itself).|
|* Abuse against sexual orientation and gender identity (for example, LGBT+)||derogatory statements about sexual orientation (e.g. heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual) and gender identity (e.g. transgender), homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, LGBT+ graffiti, LGBT+ taunting and harassment, swearing that can be attributed to LGBT+ characteristics|
|* Abuse relating to disability||derogatory statements or swearing about a disability, bullying related to disability, disability related graffiti, disability related taunting and harassment|
|Bullying||verbal, physical, cyber bullying or threatening behaviour online, racist bullying, sexual bullying, homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, bullying related to disability|
|Damage||includes damage to school or personal property belonging to any member of the school community, arson, graffiti, vandalism|
|Drug and alcohol related||alcohol abuse, drug dealing, inappropriate use of prescribed drugs, possession of illegal drugs, smoking, substance abuse|
|* Inappropriate use of social media or online technology||sharing of inappropriate images (of adult or pupil), cyber bullying or threatening behaviour online, organising or facilitating criminal behaviour using social media|
|Persistent or general disruptive behaviour||challenging behaviour, disobedience, persistent violation of school rules, raising of fire alarms falsely|
|Physical assault against adult||obstruction and jostling, violent behaviour, wounding|
|Physical assault against pupil||fighting, obstruction and jostling, violent behaviour, wounding|
|Racist abuse||derogatory racist statements, racist bullying, racist graffiti, racist taunting and harassment, swearing that can be attributed to racist characteristics|
|Sexual misconduct||lewd behaviour, sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual bullying, sexual graffiti, sexual harassment|
|Theft||selling and dealing in stolen property, stealing from local shops on a school outing, stealing personal property (from an adult or pupil), stealing school property|
|* Use or threat of use of an offensive weapon or prohibited item||carrying or bringing onto the school site an offensive weapon / prohibited item such as knives, sharp instruments and BB guns, carrying any article that has been or is likely to be used to commit an offence, cause personal injury or damage to property, use of an offensive weapon|
|Verbal abuse / threaten. behaviour against adult||aggressive behaviour, swearing, threatened violence, verbal intimidation|
|Verbal abuse / threaten. behaviour against pupil||aggressive behaviour, swearing, threatened violence, verbal intimidation|
|* Wilful and repeated transgression of protective measures in place to protect public health||deliberate breaching of protective measures such as (but not limited to): non-compliance with social distancing, causing distress such as through purposefully coughing very near to other pupils or adults, or any other deliberate breach of public health protective measures which the school has adopted.|
Attendance Data (all schools except nursery)
Information on a pupil’s attendance is collected in each census return for term prior to the census. This may include information for pupils who left the school prior to census day. Attendance data is collected for all day pupils (non-boarders) aged 4 -15 as at the 31st August of the academic year of the attendance, who were on the school roll for at least one session during the term.
The DfE has taken a decision not to collect and use attendance data in the autumn 2020 census return relating to the summer 2020 attendance term. If attendance data is included in your census return it will be removed when its uploaded.
The school census will collect attendance data for the first time in the 2020/21 academic year, rather than just those attendance marks which equate to authorised and unauthorised absences. This will be collected in the spring 2021 census for the previous autumn term.
Publication of absence data
Absence data collected termly at pupil level through the school census is published at national and local authority level through the school absence national statistics releases. The underlying absence data, at a school level, is published alongside the absence national statistics. It is essential that schools ensure that this data is returned correctly in the termly School Census as this will be the data used by the Department for publication in their Performance Tables website.
Note: The DfE do not publish absence data collected for the second half of the summer term for 15 year olds (year 11 pupils). This data does not feature as part of the standard measures of attendance statistics.
Pupil absence and attendance codes
The data required for each pupil is the aggregate number of possible attendance sessions and the actual number of absences and attendances (by reason) for the attendance period.
Schools will be aware of the full range of absence and attendance codes, which include values for attendance and for approved education activities, as these codes are used by schools MIS when recording pupil attendance. For pupils aged 4 years schools are not required to state whether absences are authorised. Please see next section for further information.
Pupils aged 4
For pupils aged 4 years, the recorded number of sessions possible are those they are expected to attend and will vary from pupil to pupil and from school to school. Attendance code ‘X’ (non-compulsory school age absence – not counted in possible attendances) is used for sessions when a 4-year-old is not expected to attend, for example those attending part-time.
For pupils aged 4 years schools are not required to state whether absences are authorised. If schools do not wish to use the absence codes, then they should just provide the total number of absences for the attendance period by recording these as sessions missed due to authorised absence. Absences recorded for 4-year-olds will not be treated as ‘authorised’ or ‘unauthorised’ and instead will be reported, and published, as overall absence.
Sessions missed due to Authorised Absence
Authorised absence is absence which has been authorised by a teacher or other authorised representative of the school. This includes where a parent has provided a satisfactory explanation (e.g. illness). Schools can retrospectively authorise an absence if the teacher or other authorised representative of the school subsequently ‘accepts’ a reason for the absence.
Sessions missed due to Unauthorised Absence
Unauthorised absence is absence without permission from a teacher or other authorised representative of the school. This includes all unexplained or unjustified absences, e.g. arriving late for school after the register has closed. Unauthorised absences do not apply to pupils of non-compulsory school age (i.e. those aged 4 years).
Dual Registered pupils
Each school should only record the attendance and absence for the sessions the pupil is required to attend at their school. They should use code D for all of the sessions that the pupil is due to attend the other school. This will avoid the double counting of attendance and absence for pupils who are registered at more than one school. Attendance code D (dual registered at another establishment) will be collected from the spring 2021 census but it is not counted as part of possible sessions.
Zero Sessions Possible
Zero sessions possible should only be recorded where a dual registered pupil has spent all of the previous term for which attendance data is being collected at the other school at which they are registered. For example, if a dually registered pupil spent all of the autumn term at his/her subsidiary registration then the main registration would have zero sessions possible recorded in the spring census (collects attendance for the autumn term).
Summer Half Term
The Department for Education advise that study leave should be used sparingly and only granted to year 11 pupils during public examinations. As study leave is unsupervised, schools must record it as an authorised absence. Study leave is no longer applicable once examinations are concluded.
Note: year 11 pupils must remain on the school roll until Friday 26 June 2020 for the 2019/20 academic year (collected in Autumn 2020 census) and Friday 25 June 2021 for the 2020/21 academic year (collected in Autumn 2021 census). Their attendance must be recorded to these dates. Schools remain responsible for year 11 pupils up to the leaving date, even when they have finished exams. It is up to schools to consider how they might seek to widen the range of learning opportunities during this time to meet the needs of their pupils.
Note: Attendance data for the second half of the summer term in respect of pupils aged 15 years old is not published in any national statistics.
Pupils unable to attend school due to exceptional circumstances – Code Y
Attendance code Y (unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances) is collected in the school census but is not counted as part of possible attendance sessions. Schools will use code Y to record the sessions where a pupil is unable to attend because:
- The school site, or part of it, is closed due to an unavoidable cause;
- The transport provided by the school or LA is not available and their home is not within walking distance; or
- A local or national emergency has resulted in widespread disruption to travel, preventing the pupil from attending school.
N Codes in Attendance
Please ensure that there are no missing marks or ‘N’ codes in your data before running the school census. N codes (no reason given) should only be used temporarily whilst a reason for absence is sought and will automatically count as unauthorised absence. For safeguarding reasons, schools must follow up all unexplained and unexpected absences in a timely manner.
Sessions attending an approved educational activity
An approved educational activity is where a pupil is taking part in supervised educational activity such as field trips, educational visits, work experience or alternative provision. The activity must be of an educational nature approved by the school and supervised by someone authorised by the school. The activity must take place during the session for which the mark is recorded.
Sessions not attending in circumstances in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) – code X
These sessions are not counted as an absence in the school census. This category is used to record sessions where the pupil’s travel to or presence at school would conflict with:
- guidance relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) from Public Health England or the Department of Health and Social Care or
- any legislation (or instruments such as statutory directions) relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19)
For further information, please refer to the school attendance guidance for schools and addendum: recording attendance in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) during the 2020 to 2021 academic year.
Persistent Absentee Thresholds
Schools are judged against a persistent absence rate of 10%, and pupils are identified as persistently absent based upon their individual absence level. If a pupil’s individual overall absence rate is greater than or equal to 10% they will be classified as a persistent absentee. For example, a pupil has 12 absence sessions out of a possible 100 sessions. This results in an absence rate of 12% and the pupil is classed as a persistent absentee.
Further information on persistent absence methodology is available in the DfE’s ‘Guide to Absence statistics’.