Timetabling - Post-16

How do you work alongside your timetablers for Post-16 subjects/classes? What do you recommend they have in place?

Any hints and tips would be appreciated.

Interesting topic this, and I’ll be interested in seeing what other schools do.

I was a timetabler at a grammar school in London which prioritised having as many students get their options choices as possible so highly, that they basically wrote the rest of their timetable around the Year 12/Year 13 options choices…

So at that school timetabling looked like this:

Year 12 students would be asked what subjects they intended to carry on into Year 13 via a ‘straw poll’. (They would normally take 4 at Year 12 and then drop one starting Year 13.) This would then be turned into a Year 13 timetable…

We’d then identify which Year 12 subjects HAD to be in particular blocks because their subjects only had the one teacher (psychology, economics, etc.), and then used software like SIMS Options to block out the Year 12 subjects based on their subject choices.

We’d then repeat the process - adding the Year 11 subjects which were ‘fixed’, and then repeating the options process for the Year 9 going into Year 10 subjects, again using SIMS Options, and then finally timetabling Year 9, then Year 8, then Year 7 which usually had the most flexibility so could go last…

I’ve also had experience in other schools which didn’t prioritise student options as much, and so forced the students to fit their choices around pre-determined subject blocks which essentially remained unchanged from year to year. This was partly because the school was part of a consortium of other schools and so it required more coordination to shift things around, but also because I think they believed that it increased the workload of the timetabler to allow that kind of flexibility. In my experience though the first way of doing things was preferable, as I didn’t find it too much extra work to be more flexible with the Year 12 blockings and it made a big difference to our students to have the combinations they wanted…

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Thank you, that is really interesting. My experience is that the process seems to be a mixture of both and is far from consistent.

In my last school it did feel, at times, that KS5 was an afterthought (despite it attracting the most funding!!!).

Like you, I agree that the first method you mentioned is preferable.