Common Transfer File (CTF)

Common Transfer File (CTF)

All schools, including PRUs, should be using the Common Transfer File or CTF to transfer pupil data electronically whenever a pupil changes schools at any time during the year. This could be at the end of an academic year or phase of education and involve a whole cohort of pupils or it could be mid-phase or mid-year for a single pupil. CTFs provide schools with valuable information about new pupils which can be automatically uploaded into their management information systems (MIS).

The law requires, as specified in the Education (Pupil Information) (England) Regulations 2005, that a CTF must be sent to the receiving school no later than 15 days after the day on which a pupil ceases to be registered at the “old” school but it can also be sent in advance particularly when pupils are moving from primary to secondary schools.  

Academies (including free schools) are also strongly encouraged to send CTFs when a pupil leaves to attend another school.

A CTF can be created automatically from your MIS for any pupil or group of pupils. Each CTF file contains details of the pupil(s) being transferred such as surname, forename, DOB, gender and UPN as well as other details such as ethnicity, contact details, attendance history, assessment data and if applicable SEN provision, FSM eligibility history etc. all of which need to be sent to the receiving school.

What are the benefits of sending and receiving a CTF?

When pupils move from one school to another, the CTF is a means of keeping track of them, ensuring they are not lost from the education system, and that any significant information, for example Special Educational Needs or details such as ‘In Care’ are immediately available to the new school.

Other benefits include:-

  • Maintaining pupil progress - if the receiving school has knowledge of the pupil’s prior attainment, they are better able to meet the individual needs of each pupil, using the data to inform their planning for the pupil’s continuing education.
  • School Value Added analysis - if a school does not have pupils’ previous results, this can have an impact on their future Value Added and expected progress analysis, as the school’s results are reliant on data from the previous Key Stages.
  • Target Setting - the transfer of attainment data enables targets to be set based on pupils’ performance histories.
  • Children whose parent(s) are serving with the Armed Forces - these children tend to move schools more frequently so maintaining continuity for their education by transferring up-to-date and relevant information promptly via a CTF is imperative.  Service Children’s Education (MoD) has schools worldwide that have access to the s2s website and can therefore send and receive CTFs.
  • Pupil Premium Funding - the provision of additional funding to schools via the Pupil Premium is based on pupil’s eligibility for Free School Meals (FSM). Schools should be using the CTF process to transfer periods of eligibility so that they can build up and maintain a history of FSM eligibility in their SIMS system.

There are circumstances when it is not considered appropriate to pass on information about a pupil via a CTF. This could include a family escaping a violent partner, the family being in a witness protection programme or in the case of an adoption. Each case would need to be judged on its own merits, in consultation with relevant parties such as the school, the police, child protection or social worker, CME (children missing education) contact in the local authority etc.

How do I send a CTF file to another school?

Once a CTF has been created it should be sent to the receiving school using the secure data transfer system provided by the Department for Education (DfE) called School to School or s2s for short. Access to S2S is now through the Department’s Secure Access (SA) system:

Access School to School (S2S)

The DfE Get Information About Schools" website provides schools with the facility to find the DfE number and other details of any school that a pupil might be moving to.

Pupil data or CTFs should not be forwarded by email.

How do I know when a CTF has been sent to my school?

Your school will automatically receive an email whenever there is a CTF file waiting on the s2s website for you to collect.  The email address and other details held on the Secure Access website for your school can be checked once you have accessed the system. Click on “Your account” and then click on “Edit”. Please make sure that you add or update your email address to a generic email address such as office@ or admin@ rather than an individual’s email address.

 “Lost” or Missing Pupils

Where schools are notified by parents/carers that a pupil is to leave the school, every effort must be made to establish what arrangements are being made for the pupil’s continuing education.  In the vast majority of cases the pupil will be transferring to another school, often one within the authority.  In these cases, schools should communicate with the new school to establish the date on which the pupil is to start so the actual date of leaving the old school can be determined.

Where a pupil has left a Buckinghamshire school with no known destination, the school should carry out preliminary checks and then complete an online CME referral (and tracking sheet) after 10 days of absence. The form is found via Children Missing Education (SchoolsWeb)

The CME team can be contacted on 01296 383098 / 0 1296 382091 or by emailing

If the child is on a child protection register plan and has an unknown destination, schools must make immediate contact with the child’s Social Worker and then refer to the Children Missing Education team.

The CME Officer will complete a number of further checks and will inform the school when they can remove the pupil from roll.

Removal from the admission and attendance registers must be made in line with the provisions of Register Regulations 2006, which are at and apply to all schools in England, including independent schools.  Further information can be found at via County Attendance Team (SchoolsWeb) and Attendance-codes (SchoolsWeb)

Only at this point should schools create a CTF file using XXXXXXX as the destination and then upload it onto the s2s secure site so that the pupil’s details can be stored in the “lost” or missing pupils’ database. This file should only hold information on one pupil.

Further guidance can also be found in the Children Missing Education Protocol, a copy of which can be found at Children-missing-education (SchoolsWeb)

If a CTF you have previously sent to a particular school has not been downloaded by a receiving school after 4 weeks then the Children Missing Education Officer (CME) needs to be informed immediately and the CTF should be uploaded onto the s2s missing pupils’ site using the XXXXXXX destination.

When a pupil moves to Scotland, overseas or an independent school then MMMMMMM should be used, this enables the CTF to be stored securely and be made available if s/he returns to a maintained school.

If a pupil moves to a Service Children’s Education (MoD) school (‘Forces school’), a file can and should be sent to the school in the normal way. The LA number of MoD is 702. The school’s DfE or Establishment number is available on Edubase for English schools and from the address list of schools for Welsh schools. If there is doubt as to which MoD school a pupil is transferring, a file can be sent to MoD using 702LLLL as the destination.

Files for both XXXXXXX and MMMMMMM, as well as MoD schools, are loaded onto s2s in the same way as files for schools – the only difference is that these files can only have the details of one pupil to enable individual pupil information to be retrieved.

Any Questions?

Guidance notes on how to create CTFs and also how to use the s2s website have been written by the ICT Schools Team and these are available to all BCC supported schools. If you do not have a copy please contact the ICT Schools Team at


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