Census dates

Find out when the school census will open for each term and what to do in unusual circumstances.

Every school in England has a statutory duty to complete the school census each term.

If you are a maintained school or pupil referral unit, you should contact your local authority to find out their deadlines for submission.

2023 to 2024 census dates

Autumn census

  • census date – Thursday 5 October 2023
  • return date – Wednesday 1 November 2023

Spring census

  • census date – Thursday 18 January 2024
  • return date – Wednesday 14 February 2024

Summer census

  • census date – Thursday 16 May 2024
  • return date – Wednesday 12 June 2024

Selected time (spring only) - class information

Primary, middle-deemed primary, middle-deemed secondary, secondary and all-through schools need to send us this information.

The ‘selected time’ is based on the last digit of a school’s departmental establishment number. You can find your selected time in the class information section.

Unusual circumstances

Where unusual circumstances such as severe weather conditions or religious observances affect census day, schools may find that the numbers of pupils or staff who are not present on that day are abnormally high.

In these circumstances, where ‘free school meals taken’ or ‘school lunches taken’ are affected, a day and time when the situation is regarded as normal is to be substituted. You could use the next normal day, an earlier day in census week or the previous Thursday where that reflects the normal situation. Where other days or times are used, schools must record these for audit purposes.