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SIMS – Spring 2023 Census Guidance

By 11th January 2023January 17th, 2023No Comments

Dear Colleague,

Could I please draw your attention to the following important school census information this is based on current guidance. If there is additional information, we will make customers aware via email as well as updating the news section on our website

How has the School Census Return changed since last year?

Census Date 19/01/23
Item Date From Date to Notes
Attendance 01/09/22 31/12/22
Suspensions and permanent Exclusions 18/04/22 31/12/22 2 Terms collected
Free School Meals 07/10/22 19/01/23
Leavers with attendance 01/09/22 31/12/22
FAM 01/08/22 19/01/23
Leavers with exclusions 18/04/22 31/12/22
Leavers with funding and monitoring 01/08/22 19/01/23
Leavers with alternative provision 01/08/22 19/01/23



Documentation to assist with preparing and producing the school census can be found on our customer portal via the following links:-

Secondary Documentation:-

Primary Documentation:-

As a customer you can register for an account at If you already have an account but have forgotten your password, please select the reset password option. If you require any assistance with customer portal accounts, please contact the helpdesk on 0345 2226802 or You must be logged in to access information within the customer portal.

SIMS Upgrade and Fileset

You must have had the SIMS Summer Release 7.208 . This can be checked via selecting Help/About

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Import the latest fileset (currently fileset 2302 but this may change before census date). We have released fileset 2302 via SOLUS to all schools. Alternatively, you can manually install by downloading a copy from the customer portal and importing into SIMS. Without the latest fileset your Census will NOT be accurate. Please check our website for the latest news before starting your census. NOTE: The Fileset ID is displayed in the browser header.

The DfE provided an updated version of the validation files yesterday to MIS suppliers so ESS are working on Fileset 2303 to accommodate this. It is anticipated this will affect mainly PRU schools but we will let you know as soon as it is released.

Instructions on how to do this can be found via:-

Latest Fileset News and download via

Please check that you have applied the latest version of the Fileset before submitting your school census. This can be checked at the top of your census page. 


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We will send out a further campaign if there any additional updates available. However, all latest information can also be found on

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Just a reminder that full DfE guidance can now be accessed via the link in SIMS on the Statutory Return page


The details of all classes running at the selected time on Spring census day are based on the last  digit of a schools DfE establishment number.


0, 1 or 5 the selected time is one hour after the start of morning school
2, 3 or 6 the selected time is one hour before the end of morning school
4, 7, 8 or 9 the selected time is one hour after the start of afternoon school

Please see the DfE guidance for accepted activities.

Do not record unusual situations (such as class amalgamation or school closure) which may have occurred on census day due, for example, to staff training or absence, severe weather conditions or religious observances. See the section on

Changes since last census

Alternative Provision Placement

This became mandatory in Spring census 2023. Please see below extract from DfE guidance

“Since the start of the 2021 to 2022 academic year, we have asked all schools, including mainstream schools, special schools and PRU/AP schools to record and submit new data on alternative provision (AP) placements that have been arranged for their students. These new data items will become mandatory from Spring 2023.

Schools that have not arranged any placements during the collection period do not need to record and submit any information.

Until Spring 2023, the collection of these data items is voluntary, and we will not pursue schools for a response, but we would encourage all participating schools to provide this valuable information.”

Full guidance can be found at

Two new Alternative Provision data items are being collected in the Spring census:

  • Companies House Number
  • Alternative Provision Postcode.

These two new items are also included in the Alternative Provision detail report, which can be accessed via the School Census menu route.

To record this information, select Focus|Pupil|Pupil Details|Panel 2 Registration

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Young Carer

Young Carer indicator is a new data item collected in the Spring Census. If a child is identified as a young carer, two options are available for selection:

  • Identified by Parent or guardian
  • Identified by School

This can be updated via Focus|Pupil|Pupil Details|Panel 10 Welfare

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Post Looked After Arrangements

The following changes have been made to codes and descriptions: The codeset for Post Looked After Arrangements (PLAA) has been extended to include ‘O’ (Adopted from state care outside of England and Wales). The code can be used from the start of the 2022/2023 academic year, for collection in the Autumn school census onwards.

The descriptions of all ceased to be looked after options have been revised:

  • Adoption from England and Wales
  • Adoption from state care outside of England and Wales
  • Special guardianship order (SGO) from England and Wales
  • Residence order (RO) from England and Wales
  • Child arrangement order (CAO) from England and Wales.

School Time

School Time Not applicable to Nursery schools

Is a new data item being collected in the Spring 2023 census. The collection is currently voluntary but will be mandatory in Spring 2024. The definition of School Time is the total compulsory time pupils spend in school, in a typical five-day week, i.e. from morning registration to the end of the school day (official home time). This includes breaks and lunchtime but not optional activities before or after school. The data entered should be representative for pupils aged 5 to 16 in the school.

To record this, go to School|School Details|Panel 1 Establishment Details|School Time

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Full guidance on how to record this data item can be found via

Funding and Monitoring

Tools | Statutory Return Tools | Update Funding and Monitoring

Cumulative hours for the Autumn term were collected for the first time in the School Census Autumn 2022 return.

For clarity, the labelling of the previously named School Led Tutoring column has been changed to Tutoring. The rules for this column have been expanded to include externally provided tutoring as well as school led tutoring. This change has also been made in the Funding and Monitoring census panel and the associated detail report. For clarity, the labelling of the previously name Total Hrs for the Acad Yr column has been changed to Cumulative Hrs at 31 Aug.

Please see below an extract from the DfE on how to record tutoring in the census

What information to enter in the school census return

For the 2022 to 2023 academic year, the school census will collect data about all tuition provided via the NTP.

In the academic year 2021 to 2022, we only collected data about school-led tutoring in the census. For the academic year 2022 to 2023, any tuition provided via the NTP must be recorded in the census. This includes tuition delivered through:

school-led tutoring

tuition partners

academic mentors

When completing each termly census, record all pupils who have received tutoring via any NTP route in the 2022 to 2023 academic year, up to and including on the census day. This is irrespective of whether the pupil is eligible for pupil premium.

We will collect data on which pupils are receiving tutoring and also the cumulative number of hours (to the nearest 0.5 hours) the pupil has received since the start of the 2022 to 2023 academic year, up to and including census day.

We advise that tutoring courses for each pupil should be 12 to 15 hours to have a meaningful impact on pupil attainment, however you should enter the actual number of hours provided to each pupil whether this is more or less than the recommended hours. If a tuition session is cancelled (a pupil did not receive tutoring) it should not be recorded in the census.

Pupils who are expected to receive tutoring funded by the NTP but have not started that tutoring as at the census date, should not be recorded as receiving tutoring.”

Known issues

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Should you need any help or assistance with any of the above please call the School ICT helpdesk on: 0345 222 6802 – Option 1, log a ticket via the Customer Portal or e-mail: