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Census Update

By 19th January 2021No Comments

Please see below the latest Census information:

Could I please draw your attention to the following important school census information this is based on current guidance (18th January 2021). If there are any additional information we will make customers aware both via email as well as updating the news section on our website.


Census Dates

Spring Census Date: Thursday 21st January 2021

Free School Meal Eligibility collection period: 02/10/2020 to 21/01/2021

Attendance Collection period: start of autumn term (as recorded in the school diary) to 31/12/2020

Exclusions Collection period: 13/04/2020 to 31/12/2020

Learner Support collected from: 01/08/2020 to 21/01/2021 (f applicable)

Age at date: 31/08/2020

Deadline for submission to collect: 17th Feb 2021



Documentation to assist with preparing and producing the census can be found on our customer portal ( You must have a customer login to access the portal and documentation can be found under knowledge base | categories | census.


If you are unsure of your portal details or would like an account, please give the helpdesk a call. You must be logged in to see the documents in the client area.


Upgrade and fileset

You must have the SIMS Autumn Release (7.196) applied and imported Fileset 1704 or later. Fileset 1704 is available to download from our customer portal along with instructions on how to download and apply it.  Fileset 1705 is due for release shortly.


Classes information

Details are required of all classes that would normally run at the selected time on the Spring Census day (21 January 2021).

The ‘selected time’ is based on the last digit of a school’s DfE establishment number as follows:

Code – Descriptor

2, 3 or 6 – the selected time is one hour after the start of afternoon school

4, 7, 8 or 9 – the selected time is one hour after the start of morning school

0, 1 or 5 – the selected time is one hour before the end of morning school


Changes since last Census 

  • Total number of sessions attending approved educational activity

The total number of sessions a pupil has spent in attendance at an approved educational activity within the collection period.

For all schools except nursery.

The first collection of this data will occur in the spring 2021 census.

  • Total number of sessions unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances

The total number of sessions a pupil was unable to attend due to an exceptional circumstance within the collection period.

  • Total number of sessions not attending in circumstances relating to coronavirus (COVID-19)

The total number of sessions a pupil was not attending in circumstances relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) within the collection period.

  • Termly attendance module

From autumn 2020, data will be recorded and returned on all categories of school attendance, rather than just absence.

  • Exclusion reasons

From autumn 2020, changes include:

  • extending the exclusion reason codes
  • allowing up to 3 reasons to be submitted per exclusion

The first collection of up to 3 reasons and new codes will occur in the spring 2021 census.

  • Exclusion collection period

Amended in line with attendance, with the start of autumn 2020 term set as 01 August and the end of summer term 31 July.

  • Additional exclusion reason added

To support the government’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19), an additional reason of ‘Wilful and repeated transgression of protective measures in place to protect public health’ has been added.

  • Changes to Detail Reports

The Exclusions Detail report has been updated to display up to three exclusion reasons.

Two new groups of attendance codes (Present and Approved Education Activity) have been added to the Attendance report.


Update for COVID-19

DfE Spring Census 2021 Readiness Bulletin Number 2 (14/01/2021) link:


Schools must provide pupil level data for pupils who are recorded on the school admission register as at census day, irrespective of whether they attend school on that day.

Current funding allocation is calculated based on the number of pupils on roll and is not affected by pupil non-attendance on census day.

However, other data items are dependent on whether a pupil attends school on census day or during census week. Guidance on these items is as follows:

Free school meals taken and school lunches taken

As schools are only open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, the majority of pupils will not be in attendance in schools on census day. Therefore, schools should record free school meals taken and school lunch taken as the normal situation, for example if a pupil would normally have a school meal on a Thursday they should be recorded as such on the census. Please note however, any vulnerable pupils or children of critical workers who are absent for reasons other than COVID related or who have chosen to have a packed lunch on census day should not be recorded as having taken a school lunch and any of this cohort of pupils who are FSM eligible should not be counted in the free school meals taken figure.

When you enter the total for the above in the General panel of the School Census Spring 2021, you should bear in mind that meal vouchers are irrelevant to this total.  The DfE wants the total to reflect a ‘normal’ situation and meal vouchers are not ‘normal’.  Moreover, in the context of the census, free school meals are restricted to those eligible for FSM, while meal vouchers have a wider eligibility.

Please note that Capita have checked the above with the DfE.

The Department realises that school opening restrictions could affect census returns for UIFSM. They will confirm future funding arrangements for UIFSM separately.

DFE definition of vulnerable children and critical workers

Vulnerable children and young people include those who:

  • are assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children and young people who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • have been identified as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), and who could therefore benefit from continued full-time attendance, this might include:
    • children and young people on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services or in the process of being referred to children’s services
    • adopted children or children on a special guardianship order
    • those at risk of becoming NEET (‘not in employment, education or training’)
    • those living in temporary accommodation
    • those who are young carers
    • those who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or quiet space to study)
    • care leavers
    • others at the provider and local authority’s discretion including pupils and students who need to attend to receive support or manage risks to their mental health

Critical Workers

Parents whose work is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and EU transition response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined in the following sections. Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required, but parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can. Definition found here:

Early years

Funded hours, extended hours and hours at setting for pupils who are in attendance during census week should be recorded as normal. Funded hours, extended hours and hours at setting should be recorded as the number of hours the pupil would normally be expected to attend during census week in the following circumstances:

  • Pupils are absent because they are self-isolating
  • Parents have chosen not to send their child to nursery

Where the parent has requested a change to the funded hours entitlement taken at the establishment, schools must record the revised funded hours.

Funded hours, extended hours and hours and setting should be recorded as zero in the following circumstances:

  • The nursery provision has chosen to close
  • Where the child is not attending because the school has chosen to restrict nursery provision to certain groups of children (e.g. vulnerable children and children of key workers)

Class module Schools should record classes as they would normally have been timetabled at the selected time on census day. However, if a school has changed its timetable to help them with COVID-19 considerations, there is likely to be some manual adjustments necessary to report in terms of their normal timetable.

Unit contact time the unit contact time should be recorded as the number of hours the pupil would normally have spent at the unit in the census week.

School childcare

Schools who provide childcare facilities and due to COVID related reasons have had to temporarily close either some or all of these facilities should record what the school would normally offer.

Pupil Premium Funding

Will be taken from Autumn 2020 census.

If you have further questions and need to contact the DfE this is done via the below form:

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