Local authorities are required to co-ordinate censuses carried out in maintained schools. These censuses detail large amounts of information about pupils and the schools in their area.
Since January 2007 all maintained schools have required to undertake the School Census three times a year (once in each term).
Every "maintained" school is legally required to complete the censuses and send the information to the Department for Education. The local authority checks the data for accuracy.
Independent or private schools do not participate in the census.
Information that is included
The census includes information on individual pupils in each school. The data provided includes:
- Pupils' names and home postcodes
- Unique pupil numbers (UPN)
- Pupil dates of birth
- Pupil ethnicity and first language
- Special Educational Needs
- Free school meal eligibility and take up
- Class sizes
- Number of teaching and non-teaching staff
- Mode of travel to school by pupils
- Attendance data
- Exclusion data
The role is of the local authority
The local authority is statutorily obliged to check the data provided by the schools, ensure that it is accurate and correct and then authorise it. Only after it has been authorised does the Department for Education receive the data which is mainly used for school funding purposes.