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Why is it that new timetables always make everyone depressed/angry/****** off?

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by Beta1, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. Well OK I know the answer - but wouldn't it be nice if just once the timetable could be produced without a major war breaking out...

  2. Well OK I know the answer - but wouldn't it be nice if just once the timetable could be produced without a major war breaking out...

  3. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Well perhaps if this year you found out that most teachers had split classes (I've got 4) when in the past they were regarded as a necessary evil to be avoided at all costs. When teachers are being timetabled for subjects they have never taught before and some are getting fewer non-contact periods than this year. All this just so we can fit a few krappy diplomas into the timetable!
  4. We don't like change and a new timetable is change so we are bound to moan.
  5. I am an English teacher so was surprised to find year 8 maths on my new timetable. SLT have said they are very short of maths teachers and had noticed I have an A level in maths!! Without asking, they have given me a middle group for four lessons a week. If I had wanted to teach maths, I would have become a maths teacher.

    I'm sorry but I feel justified in feeling a tiny bit ****** off!! Hope the kids don't find out, I will have to learn the stuff the night before.
  6. erp77

    erp77 New commenter

    i've been told by another member of staff(not SLT or anything special) that i'm teaching health and social care next year.
    wasn't asked, just told.
    i don't even know what health and social care is

    said i'm not doing it - over my dead body - i'm the onnly teachere teaching my subject and i'm already teaching a gcse class after school so i'm not taking on a new subject than i konw less than nothing about
  7. I haven't seen my timetable yet and probabley won't untill the last day of term.
    For the last two years a rotten timetable has been accompanied by the instruction to move out of my office. Ain't life grand.
  8. Still haven't seen my new timetable yet, and only 9 days left until the end of the year.

    I hope they're not trying to hide something unpleasant from me until it's too late to do anything about it...
  9. Spare a thought for the poor sap who has had sleepless nights trying to make the best timetable for all involved!

    Its hard when staff who have no understanding of the difficulties faced moan at minor issues. Try explaining to any teacher that they can't just move a block so they can have a free period 5 Friday and still remain sane.
  10. It is certainly a difficult and thankless task, particularly as the curriculum gets ever broader and more options are given to students.
  11. I certainly need to leave and never admit I can timetable before the new diplomas arrive!
  12. DM

    DM New commenter


    I have had to timetable for diplomas this year. We have a two week timetable and many subjects have been left with an extremely uneven spread of periods and major asymmetry from week to week.

    I would go so far to say the entire school has been adversely affected to accomodate a handful of students who have had their arms twisted to take diplomas that they don't even understand. And, to add insult to injury, it is costing us serious money to offer these qualifications to them as well!
  13. DM

    DM New commenter

  14. We are SUPPOSED to get the first draft on Wednesday/Thursday (no rooms on). I have been told there is a high probability of shared classes and other subjects for many teachers.

    I have done shared classes before. One teacher *has* to take the lead and do the prep and assessment. Up to now I haven't let that be me. Most lessons I simply walked in and said, carry on with whatever you were doing with X last lesson and let them do what they wanted.

    I had one year where I only taught my subject for 40% of the timetable. I insisted on being provided with lesson plans for all the year along with homeworks, so I could photocopy and hand out - the HOD refused. One subject I was simply unable to teach (Maths) and the lessons became a bunfight and I took four months off with stress (got loads of DIY done).

    I left and got another job (where I am now) and so time has caught up with me again. But I am wiser.

    As soon as you know what groups you are going to teach, get electronic copies of this year's reports for the equivalent groups. Re-write them now to be nameless and genderless. Then quickly allocate one to each pupil in those groups as you get them in the first few lessons. Get last year's grades and keep them level or at best move them up by a maximum of half a grade for the year. Make mods as you go along and get to know them.

    Don't go to departmental meetings. You can only be directed to go to one departmental meeting a month, so go to the one of your specialism.

    Expect the pupils to suss out what is going on and your lack of skills. Be very quick to chuck them out of your lessons and let the HOD or management deal. Who knows, you might enjoy it. I hated doing Maths, but thoroughly enjoyed History, Media Studies and Geography.

    If you get a GCSE or A-Level group give really low marks for the coursework unless you are really sure of what you are doing. Get the HOD to moderate it and let them move the marks up if they want to.
  15. Don't blame to timetabler - he/she just carries out instructions from SMT and also has to work within many constraints to get a timetable completed - very few people get the ideal timetable at the end of the day. It is often necessary to split classes to get everything in, and it is sometimes necessary to allocate random periods to non-specialists who have some background i.e. A level in some subjects as a last resort. I have been a timetabler in a very large school for six years and it gets harder every year. Most staff only look at the timetable from their own narrow perspective but the timetabler has to look at the whole school picture. If he/she tried to suit everybody there would be no timetable -
    my principal was timetabler before me and fortunately she understands the complexities of the process involved and always says that she will deal with complaints from disgruntled staff. 99% of these complaints go in the bin because they are completely based on narrow-minded self-centred views which cannot be taken on board! Sorry to sound a bit blunt but many people feel they can tear the timetabler to shreds but how would they like it if people began to criticise their work, speaking out of ignorance in most cases?
  16. I've worked on the timetable as part of a team for the first time this year. I have been amazed at how much inflexibility there is in it really, with a very small number of part-time staff ruling what goes when and when. By the time you get lessons that are scheduled for sports centres, lessons that are joint with other schools, there is not a lot of movement there - these are HUGE constraints on the timetable.

    We try very hard not to have to split groups/move staff. It usually works for Y13-Y10 without problems, but it staff needs to be moved further down the school otherwise it simple won't work.
  17. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter

    Once upon a time I was amazed by what I read on this site, but I am no longer. I accept that education in England is a mess and that no one has the will or the power to fix it. However, I will offer a few more comments to cyberspace regarding timetables.

    I was a timetabler in three schools in Australia. Teachers would have their allotments well before the end of the year and would usually have a draft timetable of when and where their classes were likely to be by the end of the year, which is December in Australian schools.

    The first step is to make sure you have a rational curriculum structure, not adhocracy. If you achieve this, you can successfully integrate all sorts of programs with none ? repeat, none ? of the issues that keep cropping up here. Part-timers are not a problem. Blocked programs are not a problem. Days out are not a problem. Links with other schools are not a problem. Fortnightly timetables are not a problem. We had that, with all subjects either 9 or 6 periods a fortnight. The 9-period subjects were 4 one week and 5 the other. The 6-period subjects were 3 each week. I was able to timetable the two weeks so that every lesson (other than the ninth in the 9-period subject) was the same day and the same period of the day on each week. The ninth period in all 9-period subjects was Wednesday morning ? with half one Wednesday and the other half the other Wednesday.

    Six of the seven year 10, and all 11 and year 12 subjects were 9 periods a week, and they were all blocked, as were English in years 7, 8 and 9.

    The number of periods for each subject in the year 7 curriculum was English 9, maths 9, history/geography (a semester each) 6, French 6, science 6, PE and health 6, music/art (a semester each) 6, textiles/technology (a semester each) 6, transition/IT (a semester each) 6. In year 7, the last three became graphics/performing arts, foods/woodwork and IT/real game/sport (the latter two being a term each). Transition and real game were the non-subjects that seem to have invaded schools. In year 9, the last three became elective blocks (which included French), and something called Integrated Studies was added to the core.

    The curriculum structure meant that no teacher could have more than seven classes, while no teacher could have more than four classes of maths or English. It would not have been mathematically possible for any maths or English teacher to have more than four groups because all maths and English classes were 9 periods a fortnight, and no one could teach more than 42 periods a fortnight. A maths or English teacher would have had another subject, such as science or history, for 6 periods to make up the load.

    The school had 92.3 teachers for 1187 students in 2004.

    Curriculum structure details are at:
    and timetabling policies are at:

    Of course, teaching conditions in Australia are much better than in England; e.g., in my last school, I timetabled teachers with a maximum load of 21 48-minute periods in a 30-period week. If teachers get 9 spares a week, they are easier to timetable than if they get 3 spares a week. Consultation also seems to be much better.

  18. crezz1

    crezz1 New commenter

    It's all very well you all complaining about your timetables - if you read your contract, the vast majority state the job as 'Teacher' - not specified to any particular subject. Your job description will state subjects etc, but not your contract.
    You must also bear in mind the problems timetabling PPA, part-time staff, and as staff move on, the ability to replace like with like is often impossible - therefore the make-up of the workforce changes and you, probably out of need, may have to pick up some areas of teaching on the border of your experience.
    If you think you can do a better job - step up to the plate and try.
    You will never please everybody. You have to understand the big picture and look at the needs of the pupils and the curriculum, against the demands of staff.
    At the end of the day if you don't like your timetable - move on!
  19. My objection is that while I can see the bigger picture my needs are always secondary to those on part time who only want to teach at specific times and those on maternity leave who must apparently have a good timetable when (if??) they come back. My full time, any time, any day committment is apparently not worth worrying about.
  20. completely agree with Alix on that point. I worked in one school for 5 years and was never graced with a top set at all. Bearing in mind that our year 10s and 11s rotated 3 times a year , statistically I was quite impressed at the lengths my HOD would go to to prevent me having them. I never had a problem with our timetabler (would hate that job for sure) , it was set allocation that became an issue.
    so and so won't teach year x
    y doesn't want to teach z

    at my exit interview I pointed out that I must have consisitently missed ther meetings in the last 5 years where such preferences were aired as i never recalled being asked.

    couple that with three members of SMT in your dept ( who probably taught about 60% of the lessons they were timetabled for)


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