It’s that time of year again where school timetablers are starting to get themselves ready for the forthcoming year. Coupling that with the balancing act of colleagues leaving for pastures new and trying to ensure teacher coverage for all of the courses you will be running next academic year can be stressful in itself, especially with the teacher retention and recruitment issues in the UK.
When it comes to mapping the timetable together to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum, getting your timetable right is a tough job. I always found it to be a thankless task because for every teacher you might make smile by them ending up with the classes they want and when or the free they wanted at a particular time, there’s always going to be another teacher who isn’t happy with how it sits.
I once had it explained to me that timetabling was a bit like chess; you need to be able to have lots of strategies in place coupled with the ability to see multiple moves at any given time. Whichever way you look at it though, timetabling has to involve compromises on every front. Areas such as class allocations to ensure that teachers get a broad range of classes to teach and being mindful of the student experience in ways such as ensuring adequate spacing between lessons rather than bunching are key to getting your timetable right. You also need to consider whether or not to split classes across multiple teachers and what impact that could have. You will also consider blocking and setting, then there’s the issue of rooming and student and teacher mobility around the site to think about too. Part-time staff and flexible working have implications for all of this too. Some schools have split gender locations on site but with teachers travelling from one half of the school to another to teach lessons to different genders.
Your timetable really is a tough thing to get right and something I’ve come to terms with is the knowledge that despite your best efforts, it is often something that will make some people unhappy for some of the time. As I said, it’s about compromise and working closely with your staff to ensure that the compromises work to best serve all stakeholders, as much as is practicable.
What are the key issues?
Firstly, being able to keep your mind on all of the different variables that are at play in a large timetable is really difficult and it takes a long time to get it right. Secondly, the time it takes to build a timetable is actually pretty expensive. The timetable is usually completed by a senior member of staff and given their normally higher salaries and the amount of their time which is often dedicated to the creation of the timetable. Undertaking a simple analysis of salary per day multiplied by the number of days a timetable takes to perfect, it’s not a cheap endeavour.
When I first heard about Edval my ears pricked up instantly. I’ve come across a number of timetabling solutions over the years but nothing has ever really grabbed my attention. When I learned of Edval’s huge popularity in Australia; a region I know as being pretty stellar with its use and thinking around technology, I had to find out more.
There is a solution
After having a good look around, the key thing that drew me to Edval was not only its ability to create your timetable for you but its ability to present and model major variations on the spot. This is powerful stuff. This gives you the ability to model what-if scenarios in the moment which is so helpful. The ease in which the software can be used is really helpful too.
In every school I’ve worked in, timetabling is traditionally something that is done by one person; yes in conjunction with discussions with all colleagues, but one person often pulls it all together. Using Edval you can distribute and share responsibility for the timetable and bring your team to the table and collaborate and discuss the development of the timetable rather than leave it the sole responsibility of one person. This adds impartiality and removes any potential there could be for bias linked to one person too. Given the flexibility that is needed when creating a timetable, those compromises and the need to be impartial make it a job that is not only difficult but which can have impacts on morale and culture within a school. From the strong case studies and great feedback from those schools using Edval, not only are schools saving money through careful resourcing in their timetables but they’re able to bring about carefully crafted, broad and balanced curriculums that meet the needs of their learners. Edval helps schools to enable flexible working options, include better spaced PPA, carefully block planning time, add in time for subject specialist teaching together with a more desirable mix of year groups/subjects to make the timetable work for all. It’s definitely worth checking out.
If you are interested in finding out more, Edval are currently offering free, no-obligation Timetable Audits. Your timetable audit will be formatted as an Ofsted report to display areas for improvement, efficiencies and cost savings.
To take them up on this offer, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with the coupon code ‘ICTEvang18’ in the subject line of your email. In fact, if you click the link to their email address, it should do that for you!
This is a sponsored post.