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No doubt, there were a few sighs of relief once the school census was completed last month. However, before you know it, the School Workforce Census has made its way around and the challenge begins again!
Whilst it is important the process is carried out as carefully and accurately as possible, it doesn’t need to be stressful. Our Assistant SIMS IT Consultant, Louise Watts, gives her top tips on how to prepare for the School Workforce Census (SWC) and what you need to do on the day!
What is School Workforce Census (SWC) and who does it apply to?
The School Workforce Census is a statutory data collection that takes place each autumn. It is used by the DfE, other government departments, local authorities, external agencies and educational researchers to inform policy and understanding on pay and the diversity of the school workforce.
The census collects data on all teaching and support staff in regular employment, including those working for:
Academies are responsible for submitting and approving their own census data through COLLECT. Local authorities are responsible for coordinating and approving the submission of census data from all their maintained schools and submitting data for centrally employed school staff.
Privacy Notices, Data Protection Act, GDPR
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.
Due to the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from May 2018 the DfE is in the process of updating the suggested text for privacy notices to comply with these new regulations.
The Department provides the model policies that schools may wish to use. However, the notices must be reviewed and amended to reflect local needs and circumstances of individual schools especially as data will be collected that is not solely for use within the data collection processes.
It is important to prepare yourself for the School Workforce Census (SWC). You should do a dry run as far in advance as possible. This will allow time to resolve any queries or errors that may appear.
Reading the guidance that is available is essential to your preparation. The guidance provided by the DfE is the best place to begin and can be found here.
The DfE information is the complete reference document for the School Workforce Census. The guide usually answers all frequently asked questions. If you have any doubts about the information you are returning, then check there, via your Management Information System (MIS) provider information or support team or your local authority.
Capita and RM both have extensive School Workforce Census preparation guides. Schools using RM Integris can find guidance here, whilst schools using SIMs should click here.
If you use SIMS then you will need to make sure you have the latest fileset imported. It is important that the school imports the latest fileset before authorising the School Workforce Census file as changes can be made by the DfE right up to the Census date. The fileset ensures that your SIMS will output the SWC in the latest required format. You can contact your SIMS support team to check whether you have the right version.
It is important that your personnel service terms have been updated. If you do not, the figures your school submits may not be correct and bench-marking, which is carried out by the DfE, would be incorrect when published, bringing into play wider issues surrounding underpaying staff and the gender pay gap.
The SIMS guide to maintaining service terms can be found here but your MIS support team may provide a file with an update of the NJC, Teaching, Leadership and other relevant scales if your scales do not differ from the model.
For Schools using Croydon Pay Scales, the model pay policy uses pay scales based on the Outer London Area pay ranges and can be accessed here. Schools from other London Boroughs should check with their Local Authority for the latest agreed pay scales.
Teacher Status Checks
It is important that the information for teachers is evidenced and reported through your MIS system. You can check teacher qualifications, restricted lists or even claim/remove teachers for your school here.
If you know the teacher reference number (TRN) and date of birth, you can use the teacher search facility on the DfE’s Secure access portal to view the individual record of any teacher that you employ or are considering employing, including any trainee, newly qualified, or fully qualified teacher. You’ll be able to:
If you don’t know their TRN, you’ll be able to access alphabetical lists of those teachers and others with current prohibitions, restrictions, sanctions, or who have failed induction/probation. If you identify any sanction, prohibition or restriction, you’ll need to consider how this might affect your decision to employ or engage them. Further information about the effect of the various sanctions, prohibitions, restrictions or failure to successfully complete induction or probation is set out in the Teacher Services restrictions’ lists and in keeping children safe in education statutory guidance.
If you want to confirm an individual is eligible to be employed in a role that requires QTS as a result of having been awarded Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status, you need to contact the Society for Education and Training who should have individual’s employment history is maintained on their database of teachers.
Teachers can’t be claimed by more than one employer. As supply teachers can choose to register with a number of supply agency organisations, the online service isn’t available to supply agencies. If you’re waiting for login details to be confirmed and have an immediate need to check the status of a teacher please email firstname.lastname@example.org, entering ‘urgent query’ in the subject line.
It is important to check all the detailed and summary reports that your MIS system produces.
In SIMS check that each member of staff that will be included in the census has ‘Eligible for SWR’ ticked on their personnel record basic details.
When checking the detailed and summary reports the date ranges that are included for the SWC may affect the staff numbers in areas of the report. There may be differences in staff numbers depending on what is required of the data.
If in doubt, ask! There is no such thing as a silly question. If the DFE, Capita or RM guidance is not making sense then please do call your MIS team, LA contact or as a last resort, the DFE through the Secure access portal.
Whilst it can be a stressful process, there is a lot of advice and guidance out there to help you carry out the process. The key is to prepare!
Best of luck!