Spring Census 2021 –  Thursday 21st January 2021

Census Date: 21/01/2021
Attendance Collection: Attendance collected from the start of the Autumn term to 31/12/2020
Exclusion Collection: 13/04/2020 to 31/12/2020
Free School Meals collected from 02/10/2020 to 21/01/2021

Learning Aims collected from 01/08/2020 to 21/01/2021

Fileset needed – Version 1701 minimum

Click here for Post 16 information

Useful Documentation:

Producing the School Census Spring 2021 Primary
Producing the School Census Spring 2021 Secondary
Producing the School Census Spring 2021 PRUs
Producing the School Census Spring 2021 Special Schools
Producing the School Census Spring 2021 All Through Schools
Producing the School Census Spring 2021 Nursery

The DfE school census website can be found here.

Spring Information 2021

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.

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

Error 2475 – Attendance code is invalid – software issue – contact your support organisation – This is fixed in fileset 1703 so please call the helpdesk and request this.

Errors and resolution

Capita have produced a help guide which addresses a variety of errors…should you encounter any.  These errors are listed by their error code in the document attached and correspond with the one shown in SIMS in the errors and queries section of your return. Click here to see the document.

Stockton Borough Council – Submitting to Information and Improvement

Click here for instructions on preparing for your census.

Click here for instructions on how to submit your census to Information and Improvement.

Academies and Collect

For Academies please note that you need to submit your file to DfE via collect as well as the local authority. Information can be found in the appropriate completing the census in SIMS document. DfE guidance can be found here.

Click here to view acceptable notepad entries for Collect.

What time do I run my census?

If your DfE number ends with:

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

Autumn Census 2020 –  Thursday 1st October 2020

Census Date: 1st October 2020
Attendance Collection: Termly attendance will not be collected
Exclusion Collection: 01/09/2019-31/07/2020
Free School Meals collected from 17/01/2020-01/10/2020

Learning Aims collected from 01/08/2019 to 01/10/2020.

Leavers will be included even if they have no historical data to report, where the pupil/student was not a boarder and their date of birth is between the 01/01/2020 and 31/08/2015 (inclusive), and their date of leaving is between 01/01/2020 and 31/07/2020 (inclusive).

Fileset needed – Version 1602 minimum

Click here for Post 16 information

Added 16/09/2020 18:45 Problem with DfE validation rule 1601Q

The DfE has an acknowledged that there is a problem with their coding of validation rule 1601Q in that it is using the reference date 31/08/2019 for identify children under the age of two when it should be using the reference date 31/08/2020.  We understand that the DfE is not planning to provide a new version of its validation file to deal with this problem, but will be referring to this mistake on their part when reporting their known issues.

Main changes to School Census Autumn 2020

DfE Validation and summary reports

The changes outlined above will mean extensive and quite complex changes to the DfE XSL files that provide these reports. These files will not be available for the SIMS 7 Summer Release 2020, but we will make them available via a Fileset as soon as possible after we receive them from the DfE.

The DfE expects to be able to provide a Beta of the validation in the next few weeks and this is likely to be included in our first Fieleset to help schools with dry runs. The first version for use with authorising a return will follow after that when the DfE has been able to finalise and fully test its validation.

Update 09/07/2020 18:10 School Census Validations and Resolutions Excel Workbook

This Excel workbook is based on version 1.1 of DfE validation specification, which takes account of the changes described below.  The actual validation file to deliver this validation has not yet been provided by the DfE and was not available in time to be part of the SIMS 7 Summer Release 2020, but will be made available via a Fileset.

You can click here to download a ZIP file containing the latest version of this Excel workbook.

Version number Notes Date/Time Uploaded to My Account
0.1.2 1) Missing solutions have been added on a provisional basis and are subject to change. 09/07/2020 17:15
0.1.1 1) The DfE has made use of validation numbers that they have used previously.  With that in mind, solutions for the previous use of the validation numbers have been removed.  Solutions for the ‘new’ validation rules will be added as soon as possible.
2) Read_Me_First sheet has been added to help new users of this workbook.
3) Order of sheets has been changed to improve clarity.
09/07/2020 14:15
0.1.0 1) Based on version 1.00 of the DfE’s validation specification.
2) Complete apart from the ‘Relevant census report(s)’ column.
29/06/2020 17:25

Update 02/07/2020 18:30 DfE validation changes for 2020/21 school censuses compared to the 2019/20

Changes unrelated to Covid-19

Date only amendments

100, 1873Q, 1570, 1763, 1770, 1846, 1847, 1848, 1851, 1852, 1854, 1855, 1861, 1862, 1867, 1868, 1875, 1876, 3046, 3047, 3100, 3110, 3120, 3130, 3140, 3200, 5170, 5190, 5200, 5230, 5235, 1877Q, 1878Q, 1893Q, 2695Q, 2775Q, 3080Q, 3085Q, 3090Q, 1880, 1882, 1881Q, 1883Q, 1885Q, 1890Q, 1900Q, 1910Q, 1925Q, 2010Q, 2040Q, 2050Q, 2500, 2510, 2502Q, 2575, 2578, 2579, 2576Q, 2290, 2870, 2708Q and 2709Q

Date and check amendments

1886, 1887 and 1992

Check only amendments

1993, 2717, 2715Q, 2470, 2480, 2490, 2505, 2530, 2485Q, 2540Q, 2550Q, 2560Q, 2570Q, 2571, 2572, 2574, 2577, 2582, 2583Q, 2584Q, 2280, 2735, 2820, 2706Q and 2707Q

New validation rules

2916, 2921, 2936, 2941, 1894, 1895, 1896, 2260, 2265, 2880, 2815, 2816, 5166, 2874, 2875, 2876, 2877, 2879, 2885, 2886, 2887, 2888, 2889, 2890, 2891, 2892, 2893, 2894, 2895, 2896, 2897, 2898, 2899, 2900, 2901, 2902, 2903, 2905, 2905, 2906Q and 2907Q

Changes related to Covid-19

RFC 1133: Attendance data removed on upload to COLLECT and compensating leavers included according to DOB and DOL

1882, 1881Q, 1925Q, 5057, 2470, 2480, 2490, 2500, 2505, 2510, 2530, 2548Q, 2502Q, 2540Q, 2550Q, 2560Q, 2571, 2572, 2573, 2574, 2575, 2577, 2578, 2579, 2582, 5080, 2576Q, 2583Q, 2584Q

RFC 1135: Start date for collection of exclusion records changed from 01/01/2020 to 01/09/2019


RFC 1136: Start date for collection of eligibility for FSM records changed from 22/05/2020 to 17/01/2020


Added 26/06/2020 16:35 PLAA (Post Looked After Arrangements)

As you probably know, the first time you use Tools | Statutory Return Tools | Update Post Looked After Arrangements after applying a SIMS 7 release it will allow the date entered for the previous release to be pulled through.  So, once the SIMS 7 Summer Release 2020 is applied a school will be able to pull through the data entered for the SIMS 7 Spring Release 2020.

Unfortunately, this means that schools who did not apply the SIMS 7 Spring Release 2020*1 before applying the SIMS 7 Summer Release 2020 will find that there is nothing to be pulled through.  If this situation occurs, any relevant data entered for previous releases will need to be re-entered.  This will not be a significant issue for most schools as the PLAA data is very small, but were it would be an issue, we advise applying the SIMS 7 Spring Release 2020 and updating PLAA as necessary before applying the SIMS 7 Summer Release 2020.

*1 Which was made a possibility by the DfE cancelling Schools Census Summer 2020

Useful Documentation:

Preparing the Census Secondary Schools
Preparing the Census Primary Schools

Producing the Census Secondary Schools
Producing the Census Special Schools
Producing the Census PRUs
Producing the Census All Through Schools
Producing the Census Primary Schools
Producing the Census Nursery Schools


Summer Census 2020 –  Thursday 21st May 2020

School Census Summer 2020 has been Cancelled by the DfE

As part of its inititive to reduce burdens on education and care settings so they are able to focus on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), the DfE has announced the cancellation of School Census Summer 2020.

At this point the DFE’s reducion of burdens is for the period until the end of June 2020.  The DfE has stated that a decision on its data collections which are not due to go live until later in the year, such as School Census Autumn 2020, will be made in due course.

Capita suggest that the decision to cancel School Census Summer 2020 was reasonably straightforward for the DfE, as this school census has few if any implications for funding.  A similar decision for School Census Autum 2020 would be much more difficult for the DfE, as the data collected is used for most aspects of school funding.

Reducing Burdens on Education and Care Settings Guidance

In light of the above news One IT have cancelled all drop in sessions we had arranged for 5th, 12th, 13th and 14th of May. 

Preparing the Census Secondary Schools
Preparing the Census Primary Schools

Producing the Census Secondary Schools
Producing the Census Special Schools
Producing the Census PRUs
Producing the Census All Through Schools
Producing the Census Primary Schools


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