How to Prepare your School's Timetables
Timetables are at the very heart of school life; they’re used everyday by every member of your school community, and are fundamental to the successful running of your school. They can also be one of the most time-consuming things to organise at the start of each school term or academic year, your Administrators facing a constant grapple with overlaps in rooms, teachers and classes.
However, it doesn’t have to be as challenging as it may initially appear. Luckily, there are a variety of tools and technologies available to help make your school timetabling a smooth and painless process.
Here are our suggestions on how to go about your school timetabling, and how you could use your school management information system (MIS) to relieve some of the stress involved in manually coordinating your timetables.
Keep data fields and labelling consistent
Never underestimate the difficulties that can be caused by things getting lost in translation. Deciding on terminology that will be understood and widely applicable across your school is especially important when it comes to timetabling, and should be used throughout your timetables for consistency and ease of legibility.
Using software that enables customisation options so that all screen, print and export layouts match your school’s style and preferred terminology is definitely a bonus. However, you also need to make sure that when you’re uploading your timetables to your management information system (MIS), that the times, days and weeks align with what’s been created in your preferred timetabling system.
Import your timetable into your MIS
Once you’ve created your timetable, don’t forget to upload it to or sync it with your management information system (MIS). The key to all your school’s essential data, this is very important in allowing you to share vital details accurately with every member of your school community.
At the beginning of the timetabling process, remember to make sure the timetabling software you’ve chosen to use is supported by your MIS (or visa versa) to save you trouble further down the line. For example, our Timetable Manager module supports uploads from a number of alternate programmes, including: Nova-T 4 and 6, TimeTabler, GP-Untis, ASC Timetable, and Excel, and timetables can be exported individually or in quantity to PDF, HTML and Excel too.
If you’re not 100% sure that the version you have is the finalised one, then don’t worry – you can still import your timetable into our Timetable Manager as a ‘development’ timetable, which can be switched to live once you’re ready.
Run pre-made reports
Once your timetable has been imported, you can use Teaching Manager to import students into sets and groups. You can then make the most of our easy-to-use timetable wizard, which enables users to quickly produce timetables by student, teacher, room, subject, department, year group, teaching set and teaching form.
We would then strongly recommend running a series of pre-made reports to help identify any data gaps or potential clashes within the timetables you’ve uploaded, using information across the academic database.
Providing there are no clashes or any missing information, your timetables will then be ready for distribution.
Distribute your timetables digitally
You want to send out your timetables as quickly as possible and where they can be stored for ease of access.
With iSAMS, you can export timetables individually or en masse into a host of formats, including PDF, Excel and HTML files. In offering this, it increases the likelihood that all members of staff will be able to access and use the timetables you distribute, depending on their preferred format.
Not only can you email these out to your staff members, but you can also automatically sync them with the Student and Parent Portals, and the iTeacher, iStudent and iParent apps, so these key members of the school community can see them whenever they need to.
Update information regularly
Just to make things that bit harder, creating and sharing your timetables is only half the job. Now, you need to make sure your teaching/room/set codes are kept updated so the information is easily identifiable and accessible for everyone.
Using a simple wizard within our Query Schedule, it’s easier than ever to find free students, teachers and rooms, and produce timetable spreadsheets of the whole schedule, which in turn can be broken down by teacher, subject and department. So, providing you keep the information across your MIS updated, this will automatically feed into your timetabling so you get an accurate picture of what’s going on and where at any given time/date.
Use Timetable Management software
Using Timetable Management software to schedule meetings for staff, classes for teachers and students, and extra-curricular activities for students is fundamental to saving you time and automating some of the administrative processes involved in creating and coordinating your timetables.
Through flexible and easy-to-use tools like our Timetable Manager, you can quickly produce an unlimited number of timetables and filter them by student, form, teacher, room, subject, department and/or academic year. These timetables can then be further customised to your own specification and school style, giving you the versatility you need to use them as you want to.
You can add staff meetings, year schedules and teacher availability, put in prep timetables, and programme your timetables to highlight clashes or other issues. Then simply email them to anyone who needs them, safe in the knowledge that every action has been logged so you can see who’s changed what and when.
We hope you found these tips useful and that they will go on to help you in your timetable planning for each new term and/or academic year.