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What is your experience of flexible timetabling?

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by joolee, Nov 13, 2018.


How long is each lesson in your current Primary School timetable?

  1. 20 minutes

    0 vote(s)
  2. 30 minutes

    0 vote(s)
  3. 40 minutes

  4. 50 minutes

    0 vote(s)
  5. 1 hour

  6. Different depending on the lesson

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. joolee

    joolee New commenter

    I work in a rapidly-growing International school in China. As each year passes, we have more students which adds stresses on our limited resources of learning spaces and teachers. Thrown into the mix are frequent requests from specialist teachers and some class teachers to have longer blocks of time with students than our current 40 minute lesson periods.

    I have launched a scheduling committee at my school with a cross section of teachers involved in researching the options available to provide more efficient and better-quality learning experiences for the students.

    The research seems to suggest that it is difficult to categorically link timetabling decisions to improved student learning because the issue is more how teachers spend their time than how long they spend on a particular area. However, even without a direct correlation to student learning improvement there are definitely logistical, and financial implications to more efficient scheduling.

    I would like advice from anyone who has experimented with differing lengths of period in their schedules, including the more challenging notion of a non-standard timetable with certain specialist classes being longer or shorter than others.

    In short I would like to be able to reach a satisfactory answer to the following question?
    How long should lessons be to maximise efficiency and impact positively on students and teachers?
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    We have 35 mins, but many subjects are taught as doubles and a few as triples.
  3. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    Different subjects may require different lengths of time. For example, an Art lesson should probably be a minimum of one hour so there’s a reasonable amount of time for practical work. With English, there might be a time in the week when you want a longer time allocation in order to engage in sustained, creative work; but I don’t think every English lesson needs to be a long one. Sometimes half an hour - for spellings or reading etc. is absolutely fine, in my opinion.
    I know of a school which had hour-long lessons in the mornings and 45-minute lessons in the afternoons. Sometimes the hours could be split into half hours.
    One school I taught at had 38-minute lessons!
    Another school had all the Maths, English and Science lessons at 90 minutes, which I think is too long - especially when Maths and English happen every day. It means that subjects like Art, Drama, Music and D.T. get pushed to the sidelines as there isn’t enough time to fit them all in.
  4. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I know of one school that used to timetable in 20 minute chunks, which enabled different subjects to have 40/60/80 minute lessons as suited, but it must have been a nightmare to timetable.

    I used to like what we had for maths when I started teaching - 35 minute lessons, with one double per week, usually in the morning. But I adapted when we switched to 1 hour lessons - you just structure things differently.

    I just wish my daughter's school would tailor their cookery lessons to the one hour slots they have, so that we don't have to eat undercooked baking!

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