Spring School Census 2021 Unusual circumstances – COVID-19 DfE Guidance
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. Therefore, pupils who are absent from school on census day, whether the absence is COVID-19 related or for other reasons, should be counted in schools’ census returns in the usual way.
Current funding allocation through the national funding formula (NFF) and the pupil premium 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. These will be detailed below.
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.
Early years – funded hours, extended hours and hours at setting
Early years provision should remain open and continue to allow all children to attend full time or their usual timetable hours. This includes early years registered nurseries and childminders, maintained nursery schools, as well as nursery classes in schools and other pre-reception provision on school sites.
This is the default position for all areas irrespective of national lockdown restrictions. It is the government’s intention for there to be parity of approach between the school census and the early years’ census.
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. This would apply in the following circumstances:
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)
Schools should record classes as they would normally have been timetabled at the selected time on census day.
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.
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
It was announced in December 2020 that pupil premium allocations for most schools will now be based on data collected as part of the autumn school census. This applies to all schools except for local authority maintained PRUs and alternative provision academies and free schools who will continue to be allocated funds based on information collected in the spring school census.