School workforce census: guide to submitting data

How local authorities, local-authority-maintained schools, and academies, should collect and submit data for the school workforce census.

Significant reductions have been made to the data collected in the 2020 school workforce census. Please see the school workforce census 2020 guide below. Find out which data collections will be cancelled, paused, or will continue, in this academic year.

The school workforce census is a statutory data collection that takes place each autumn. You must complete statutory censuses by law unless there’s a good reason not to.

The census collects data on all teaching and support staff in regular employment, including those working for:

  • local authorities on central contracts
  • local-authority-maintained schools
  • academies
  • free schools, including:
    • studio schools
    • university technical colleges
  • pupil referral units (local authority establishments that provide education for children who cannot attend a mainstream school)

Local authorities are responsible for:

  • coordinating and approving the submission of census data from all their maintained schools
  • submitting data for centrally employed school staff

Academies are responsible for submitting and approving their own census data.

Local authorities, local-authority-maintained schools and academies should issue privacy notices to all members of staff. Privacy notices inform staff members about the details of the census and their rights under the Data Protection Act.

Important dates

Dates for the 2020 census:

  • census day - 5 November 2020
  • deadline for submitting your data - 4 December 2020

Submit your data

You’ll need to:

  • register and log in with DfE Sign-in
  • use COLLECT to submit your data

Please contact your school or local authority approver, if:

  • you want to request a DfE Sign-in username or password so you can access COLLECT
  • ‘school workforce census’ is not on the list of collections you can see in COLLECT

Get help using DfE Sign-in

If you do not know who your approver is, please use the DfE Sign-in request form.

If you’ve forgotten your password, use DfE Sign-in to reset it. You will need to click ‘Start now’ and then the ‘I’ve forgotten my password’ link.

Note that we’ll only be able to change the status of your data submission to ‘authorised’ once you’ve cleared all errors in the data in COLLECT.

School workforce census documents

These documents will help you complete the census:

If you wish to request XSLT files for the validation rules and school summary report, contact the Data Collection Helpdesk via the service request form.

Video: DfE School Workforce

DfE School Workforce

Do you need help?

Submitting data

Please use the service request form if you have any questions about your data. We aim to answer your question within 5 working days.


Please use the feedback form if you have any comments about our data collection service, including COLLECT and the helpdesk service.

Published 25 March 2014
Last updated 28 October 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added School workforce census 2020: notepad entries for COLLECT queries.

  2. Updated 'Important dates' and 'School workforce census documents' sections. Added a banner about reductions to the data collected in the 2020 school workforce census. Added a link to 'School workforce census 2020: guide'.

  3. Added a link to the guidance 'School workforce census 2020: technical information' (in the section 'School workforce census documents').

  4. Added link to new guidance on the 'School workforce census 2019: notepad entries for COLLECT queries'.

  5. Added a link to XML converters and guides for school workforce census 2019.

  6. Added link to guides for school workforce census 2019.

  7. Added link to School workforce census 2019: summary report specification.

  8. Added a link to 'School workforce census 2019' and updated important dates.

  9. Updated 'Submit your data section' and DfE Sign-in help links.

  10. Updated COLLECT link from secure access to DfE sign in.

  11. Updated video in the guide.

  12. Added 'School workforce census 2018: notepad entries for COLLECT queries' guidance.

  13. Added 'School workforce census 2018: guides'.

  14. Added 'School workforce census 2018: business and technical specification'.

  15. Added 2018 census dates.

  16. Added 'Introduction to the School Workforce Collection' video.

  17. Added 'School workforce census 2017: notepad entries for COLLECT queries' guide.

  18. Added link to 2017 school workforce census guides.

  19. Added dates for the 2017 census and a link to the 'School workforce census 2017: business and technical specification'.

  20. Added a link to COLLECT report guides for people who submit data (source) and people who check the submitted data is correct (agent).

  21. Added link to 'School workforce census 2016: notepad entries for COLLECT queries'.

  22. Added COLLECT user guides for schools and local authorities.

  23. Added a link to 'School workforce census 2016: LAs with centrally employed staff'.

  24. Added links to the 2016 school summary report technical specification and guide for school-employed staff.

  25. Added dates for the 2016 census.

  26. Added a link to 'School workforce census 2015: notepad entries for COLLECT queries'.

  27. Added links to 2015 COLLECT guides and a guide for centrally employed staff'

  28. Added link to 'School workforce census 2015: guide for school-employed staff'.

  29. Added a link to the XML schema files and the school summary report technical specification for the 2015 census.

  30. Added link to 'School workforce census 2015: business and technical specification'.

  31. Added link to 'XML generators' page in the technical area.

  32. Added school workforce census 2014 guides and COLLECT guides.

  33. Added link to 'School workforce census 2014: early warning letter'.

  34. Added link to 'Access database 2014 collection'.

  35. Added links to XML schema and XSLT validation files.

  36. First published.