JohnCondon (1st June 2012)
We are a KS 3 Special school for boys with about 70 students. Our timetable is currently 'managed' on an Excel Spreadsheet and it frequently changes. Trying to make the best use of technology we are in the process of getting the timetable onto SIMS T6 and setting it up so we can also use Bromcom's (yippee spelt it right !!) Teacher Web Folder.
We had a days visit from a SIMS Timetabler who set T6 up and ran through a lot of stuff and have a second visit booked. However, it's all a bit of a whirl and I'm now wondering how it's achieved in other schools. Presumably bigger establishments have a dedicated timetabler?
JohnCondon (1st June 2012)
Usually, as it's a dark art. However for small numbers you should be okay. How many classes / groups do you have. One of the issues is fitting things together and preventing clashes. For such a small overall population, a lot of these things will hopefully be easy to fix by inspection without needing lots of trial and error.
We have someone in senior management do it for the upper school, same in my last school. In the primary school, they still use Excel - and it's a whopper of a complex one. Then when it's done i transfer it as best i can into Nova T6.
The best thing to do is play around with it, as it's not necessarily intuitive. Once it's done, making changes should be fairly straight forward too, but it depends what the changes are.
Key thing is, make sure that if you're not the person doing the Excel Sheet, then make sure that person is involved in all stages of training and implementation and they understand it's their job to do it in T6. If you get stuck like me, they'll keep handing over to you the spreadsheet and expect you to make the changes.
We give it to our PHD educated maths teacher, he loves it
In my last school, the timetable was done by our deputy head, who did it using bits of coloured card and pins, and then input it into Nova T.
Here, it is done by one of our SMT staff and I'm pretty sure they don't like doing it...
I am the timetabler here (biggish 11-16 comp) and we use T6: we are scheduling ours now for next year (I work in conjunction with our Curriculum Deputy).
It is a steep learning curve, and it will help if you get to grips with the basic timetabling concepts; even for a small school this will help make the timetable efficient
and it will be quicker and more intuitive to make changes. It is worth it though as the benefits of the SIMS integration are enormous and its a useful personal skill for
the CV. There is a good book on the subject: Free trial : timetable software ... for timetabling school timetables ... for easier scheduling. which is very good at covering
the core ideas (although it is not Nova Specific) and might be worth the school buying.
I am not a teacher (anymore) and I think the process works better if its done bytwo people: you can bounce possible solutions off each other, there is some redundancy if changes need to be made,
and if a teacher or SMT member is involved they can have all the awkward conversations with staff about why they have double RE with the Engineering group last thing on a Friday afternoon.
Ahhhhh Timetabling! I can never work in that many dimensions in large schools: Rooms, same time as people, same time as students, same time as staff, in period and days and classes... too much for me! Mosgt packages have tools to make it easy to do this, depending on the sizes of schools, it is usually the finding out all the information (classes, pupil choices, staff availability etc) that is the hard bit. Systems including Nova T have tools to put all of this in, and set some rules up and let it do its thing... more or less.
Agree with @vikpaw for small numbers it is easy to play around with it while you get used to it.
Move it over as in manually select the classes in Academic Management?
I don't know about @GREED 's statement - I challenge you to name one MIS with a decent timetabler package built-in
Actually to be fair every timetable needs modification and tweaking, no system will know you really want Maths P1 Monday, but can't say it because it messes other things up and the likes... but it is about giving tools to make this process as easy as possible. Drag and drop, intuitive rescheduling on the fly, single student timetable management. Stuff like that.
I would have to agree that Nova T6 is not the most visual or intuitive package, and the interface does look rather tired compared in particular to Timtabler, but for
SIMS schools its essentially free, it does have all the functionality you need, and it integrates well with SIMS. Doing it all in a spreadsheet first is prone to errors in the transfer of data
and leaves you open to having several conflicting versions of the timetable floating around: never a good thing.
One big plus point is if you make frequent changes or want to plan ahead for known cyclical changes, Nova does also give you the option of Maintenance Data sets and the associated and wonderfully
named "temporal locks", which allow you to get future timetables into the system in advance.
Regardless of the software, understanding the principles of timetabling is more important in the first instance than the particular features of the package you are using.
It's a dark art done by one of the Deputy Heads at my governor school (and done by the DH at my school too).
The secret to the art is passed from one generation to the next
One of our Deputy Heads is responsible for Timetabling. However, I can usually predict when I'll get the call to "supervise" while he promotes year groups.
vikpaw we have tried locking blocks etc but it always seems to fall down when trying to schedule virtual groups
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