The Early Years Census is a statutory annual data collection covering all private, voluntary and independent providers of early education for three- and four-year-olds in receipt of government funding for Early Years provision. If a provider is not in receipt of government funding, they should not make a census return.
The data is widely used by the Department to inform policy and ministers and to fund local authorities (LAs), by other government departments, LAs, external agencies and educational researchers.
Analysis of individual child records supports the drive to raise standards, accurately target funding, and monitor and develop policy. For example, data is used to inform evidence-based policy decision-making on funded early education. Child numbers are used to inform the Dedicated Schools Grant funding allocations, and child-level data is matched into the national pupil database and used to monitor progression from Early Years into compulsory education.
The data is collected via COLLECT, the Department’s centralised data collection and management system for education.
There has been an important change to the method of access and password administration for COLLECT. There is a new system called Secure Access (SA), which provides a single, secure point of entry to departmental IT systems and ensures that the data is protected. SA will also allow users to manage password resets on a self-service basis, without helpdesk assistance.
The following are important dates for the Early Years Census:
The return status 'approved' implies that the LA is sufficiently content with the data for the Department to start early analysis, data cleaning and authorisation.
LAs have until the database is closed to LAs towards the end of April to resolve all errors and queries, including duplicates.
For census updates and reminders, please see the Early Years Census 2013 news page, which you should check regularly.
The following documents are available to support LAs completing the 2013 Early Years Census:
The following technical documents and tools are also available:
Please use the service request form if you would like to change your contact details, request a COLLECT username and password or make any queries about the Early Years Census.
Please use the feedback request form if you have any comments about the content on this web page, the Data Collection Helpdesk service, the COLLECT system or any other aspect of our data collection service.
Version 1.0 - preparation and guide for the 2013 Early Years Census - released 5 October 2012.
PDF, 248 Kb
Version 1.6 - user guide for local authorities on using COLLECT to submit data for the Early Years Census 2013.
PDF, 1 Mb
PDF, 365 Kb
PDF, 51 Kb
PDF, 48 Kb
Version 1.2 - business and technical specification for the 2013 Early Years Census - released 8 August 2012.
PDF, 312 Kb
Version 1.2 - contains schema and includes for the 2013 Early Years Census - released 3 December 2012.
zip, 26 Kb
Notification of the 2013 Early Years Census, with guidance and useful links.
PDF, 283 Kb
Data collection template for private, voluntary and independent providers of Early Years education for children aged two, three and four for the 2013 Early Years Census.
Excel, 82 Kb
Spreadsheet which converts CSV data to XML data for the 2013 Early Years return.
Excel, 91 Kb