Detailed guide: School census: guide to submitting data

Updated: Added infant class size validation guide to the ‘Help to complete the census’ section.

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 can’t 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 can’t 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

Spring 2018 census dates:

  • census day: Thursday 18 January 2018
  • deadline for submitting data: Wednesday 14 February 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’ isn’t on the list of collections you can see in COLLECT

If you don’t 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 I’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

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

Technical guides

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. I aim to answer your question within 5 working days.


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

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Author : HM Government –
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