Thos of you that follow me on Twitter may remember that I was asking for samples of school timetables a while back. The reason for this is that I was given the role of revamping our school day timings.
This process is not as simple as you might think and these documents came in very handy:
Management of the School Day Circular 7/90
Designing and Timetabling the Primary Curriculum
The reason for the revamp is that we realised that our time table was too short. Whilst there is no legal minimum number of hours, the suggested minimum is 21 hours for Key Stage One and 23.5 hours for Key Stage Two per week. The number of hours does not include registration, breaks, assemblies or collective worship. Both Key Stages were short and it was clear that we needed to increase the number of hours. But after scrutinising the samples of timetables that I collected (from local schools and via Twitter) it became clear that most schools did not just work to this recommended minimum number of hours but that they had MORE than the suggested minimum. Most schools had a minimum of 24 hours teaching time.
We had to act quickly to make any changes to the timings at the beginning and end of the school day. Governors and parents must be consulted (2 weeks notice needed to be given to parents about a meeting) and three months notice must be given to parents and the local authority before a change can be introduced at the start of a school year. This meant that the whole process had to be completed by the Whit half-term (the end of May).
After researching timetables and the legalities, I worked with our newly formed change team to put together new timetables. We were pleased with the timings that we had put together. These ideas were then presented to the whole staff who gave their thoughts.
Then, we had to discuss the proposed new timings with the parents. This seemed to go surprisingly smoothly (I was expecting more of a debate). The school council were asked for their thoughts before myself and a member of the Change Team presented our proposed new timetable to the governors. The governors were in support of the change and so finally myself and the Senior Management Team confirmed the new timings.
The new timetable will begin in September and it gives significantly more teaching time than before and it also allows time for registration, breaks, lunch and assemblies. We will start school at 8.45am in September and finish at 3.25pm. We will have a third lesson in the morning (to be a guaranteed slot for guided reading, mental maths, handwriting, spelling and grammar amongst other things). Years Three and Four will continue to have a ten minute break in the afternoon whilst Years Five and Six will not (that should be an interesting experiment!)
So now we have to wait until September to see how the new timetable works in practice, but I can't wait to see the benefits that the new timetable will have.