School census

Key dates

School census dates 2023 to 2024

Autumn school census

5 October 2023

Spring school census

18 January 2024

Summer school census

16 May 2024

About the census

The school census collects pupil data and takes place three times a year. The census applies to primary, secondary, special schools and pupil referral units.

Data from the school census determines which pupils get the pupil premium grant. For funding rates, see: pupil premium grant.

The census identifies:

  • disadvantaged pupils - eligible now or in the past 6 years for free school meals
  • post looked after children
  • service children

Looked-after children and pupil premium

Looked-after children (LAC) also qualify for pupil premium, but they are no longer identified in the school census. Their pupil premium data is collected from another source.

Class sizes

Spring census collects information on class sizes for pupils at a selected time on spring census day. The selected time is based on the last digit of the school establishment number.

Last digit of your departmental number

Selected time

4, 7, 8 or 9

One hour after the start of morning school

0, 1 or 5

One hour before the end of morning school

2, 3 or 6

One hour after the start of afternoon school

Privacy notices

Your school needs to send a privacy notice to

  • the parent or carer of every pupil
  • all members of teaching and non-teaching staff you employ

This is to inform them that you hold personal data about each pupil or member of staff. You must explain how you intend to use the data and who you may share the data with.

Guidance on completing the school census

Complete the school census | GOV.UK explains how schools and local authorities should submit school census data to the Department for Education

Use the document as a handbook throughout the year, not only on census day. It covers data collected for the school census and stored in school management information systems (MIS).

Changes for Summer 2024 onwards

Early Years data, previously collected in Spring census only, will now be collected termly in census returns from May 2024 onwards. New items for 2 year old pupils are - expanded hours, eligibility code, basis for funding, EYPP, DAF indicator.

How to load school census return to COLLECT [713.6 KB] [pdf]

Checking your data guidance

Complete the school census - Check your data | GOV.UK

This covers:

  • validating your data
  • resolving errors
  • checking any funding reports that use your school census return


For ARBOR, SIMS guides and 'live data' training courses for school census returns, contact Schools ICT Services:


Phone: 01323 463 133

Contact Schools ICT


Phone: 01273 482 519

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