Student background data collection for independent schools


About the collection

ACARA collects student background data (SBD) for all Australian schools to calculate 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 proportion of students in the lower two quarters of Socio-Educational Advantage are used by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training (AGDE) to calculate the socio‑educational disadvantage loadings. The proportion of DLBOTE students is used to calculate the low English proficiency loading. 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

Each students’ date of birth, sex, Indigenous status and language. Each parents’ language, education level and occupation level.  

How to submit your student background data 


Completing the SBD template

  1. Download a copy of the SBD Template 2021 (Excel 77 kb)
  2. In the 'SubmitterDetails' tab, enter your first name, last name and email address
  3. Fill in the 'SBD Template' tab
    • Enter each student attending your school or campus(es), one per row. An example of how data should be entered is included in the 'SBD example' tab
    • Ensure the 'ACARA SML ID' and 'School name' is filled in on every row as this identifies all schools and campuses throughout Australia. These details can be found in the Non-government school List (Excel 327 kb)
    • The 'Data dictionary' tab provides a description of all the background data fields
    • The 'Language list' sheet contains the Australian Standard Classification of Languages to assist you in entering values for the student (Students Main SLG) and parents (Parent Guardian 1 & 2 Main SLG) main language spoken at home.

Important notes

  • If you are submitting the SBD data for multiple schools/campuses, please include ALL of them in one file
  • Please do not change column headers or tab names as this will result in a data load error on submission.

Submitting data to ACARA

  1. Email [email protected] to request a secure FTP account to upload the completed template. If you submitted data last year, you likely already have an account, so please visit the FTP site and enter your login details (select forgot password if necessary)
  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 to “SBD_Independent_School_Template_2020 (YOUR school name)"
  4. Submit your schools file through the secure FTP site by clicking 'Add File' within the File Manager tab
  5. Once you can see that your file has successfully uploaded, ACARA will be able to access it. There is no need to email this file from within the FTP site.

NOTE: The reason we request data submissions via a secure FTP site and not email is because data as an email attachment may not be secure. If you require assistance uploading your template, please contact [email protected]. Please do not email this template. 

SBD submission due date

The 2020 SBD collection from Independent schools round 2 closed in August. If you submit after then, your data will still be passed on to AGDESE and used for future adjustments.

Please follow the Completing the SBD template and Submitting data to ACARA steps outlined above.

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 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4.

Please ensure that the data entered into the template is as complete and correct as possible as your school’s funding relies on this information.

Quality control of the data

Once your template is received, automated quality control checks are completed 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 exception report will be emailed to you detailing what needs to be changed. If the data has passed all quality checks, a confirmation email will be sent to you.

Process flow

2020 Full process overview of Independent schools’ SBD data collection

Completeness of the data

The accuracy of the ICSEA model improves as the completeness of Student Background Data (SBD) being fed into the model increases. For an Independent school, a higher level of completeness results in:

a. NAPLAN similar student results being more accurate and fairer.
b. Calculations of SEA quarters and disadvantaged LBOTE values being more stable and will lead to more stable school funding loadings.

In December 2020, ACARA will identify and write directly to Independent schools with a low completeness rate and in it will refer to the SBD completeness rate data dictionary.

Contact us

For assistance in preparing the template or submitting the data, please review the frequently asked questions below or contact ACARA via: [email protected].


Frequently asked questions