Student background data collection for independent schools


About the collection

ACARA collects the student background data (SBD) for students at all Australian schools for the purpose of calculating Socio-Educational Advantage and Disadvantaged Language Background other than English (DLBOTE).  

Usage of the data

The Index of Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) is used to report NAPLAN performance against schools with similar backgrounds.

The proportions of students in the lower two quarters of Socio-Educational Advantage are used by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training (AGDET) to calculate the socio‑educational disadvantage loadings. The proportion of DLBOTE students is used to calculate the low English proficiency loading for funding schools. For further information, please see Section 18 of the Australian Education Regulation 2013 . 

ICSEA values for schools are increasingly being used by government and non-government organisations for determining which schools qualify for special assistance.

What information is collected

Attributes for each student at a school including date of birth, sex, Indigenous status and language, and parents’ language, education level and occupation.  

Completing the SBD template

  1. Download a copy of the SBD_Independent_School_Template_2019 (Please insert your school name) (Excel 73 kb).
  2. On the 'Submitterdetails' sheet in the template, please enter your first name, last name and email address, so that ACARA can provide feedback on the data submission to you.
  3. Find your school in the Non-government schools list (Excel 329 kb). Use the 'ACARA SML ID' and 'School name' when entering each student’s background in the SBD template sheet. This ID uniquely identifies all schools and campuses throughout Australia.
  4. The 'Data dictionary' tab provides a description of all of the background data fields you need to provide for each student in the 'SBD template' tab.
  5. The 'SBD template' is the tab into which you must enter your school's SBD. For each student in your school or campus(es), you need to enter one row of data that has the ‘ACARA_SML_ID’ in column A, and the ‘School name’ in column B. An example of how data should be entered is included in the 'SBD example' sheet.
  6. The 'Language list' sheet contains the Australian Standard Classification of Languages to assist you in entering values for the student and parental “Main language spoken at home”.

  7. Important notes

  • If you are submitting the SBD data for multiple schools/campuses, please include ALL of them in one file. 
  • Please DO NOT rename any column header/tab name of the template.
  • Please DO NOT add/remove any row/column of the template.
  • "Submitterdetails" tab MUST be completed.

Submitting data to ACARA

  1. Email [email protected] to request a secure FTP account to upload the completed template.
  2. When the account is created, you will receive an automatic email with instructions on how to securely upload the completed SBD template.
  3. Rename the completed spreadsheet file using the ACARA_SML_ID and/or school name to make the name unique.
  4. Submit the spreadsheet file through the secure FTP site link in the automatic email.

NOTE: You must not email the data as an attachment as it may not be secure.

SBD submission due date

Independent schools may continue to submit 2019 SBD data to ACARA until 14 November 2019 and this data will be used by the ADGET to adjust later school payments.
The 2020 SBD collection for independent schools will commence in March 2020.

Accuracy of the data

Schools must ensure that the data provided in the template is valid according to the 'Data dictionary' tab of the template. For example, the parental school education entered must be a value of between 0 and 4.

Although the statistical model that is used to calculate the socio-educational estimates can handle missing data, schools should ensure that the data is as complete and correct as possible, as your school’s funding relies on this information.

Quality control of the data

After your data is received, automated quality control checks are completed on the data by ACARA to ensure that the values provided in each column are valid for that field. If corrections are required to the data, an automated report will be sent to the data provider listing what needs to be changed. Otherwise a confirmation that the data have passed the quality checks and will be used in reporting will be sent to the submitter.

Process flow

Process flow independent schools SBD submission


Contact us

For assistance in preparing the template or submitting the data, please review the frequently asked questions below or contact ACARA, preferably by email at: [email protected]
or by calling the helpline on 1300 895 563 and selecting option 2 (Principals' Portal).


Frequently asked questions