Timetabling for student and staff wellbeing

Timetabling for student and staff wellbeing

This article was produced in partnership with Tes, which powers schools and enables great teaching worldwide, by creating intelligent online products and services to make the greatest difference in education.

For students, locking in their first-choice subject can be the exciting first step on the road to their dream job.

Indeed, gaining a sense of certainty and optimism is an important wellbeing booster for young people amid talk of an uncertain and volatile future – and this makes students’ first choice subject selection a critical component of a school’s timetabling regimen.

However, many schools across Australia have been struggling over the past two years to effectively organise their timetabling due to the major disruptions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and recent flooding disasters.

Edval – one of Australia’s leading timetabling services – was at the coalface throughout both crises, helping schools streamline their scheduling process and reducing the administrative strain that has exhausted teachers.

The sophisticated algorithms in Tes Timetable allows educators to quickly rework timetables, incorporating factors such as class structures, lesson spreads, teacher availability, load preferences and constraints.

Michael Emmanuel, Managing Director, Tes Timetable powered by Edval, says Tes Timetable has designed and built its student elective line features to prioritise student choice.

“Our technology and algorithms automatically and intuitively create solutions that ensure students first choices are satisfied,” Emmanuel told The Educator.

“While the technical aspect is resolved, timetabling is inherently complex, and sometimes, our customers need help and advice. So, we provide comprehensive documentation, bespoke advisory services, and standardised training designed to help our customers succeed.”

Emmanuel said this helps principals progress towards whole school wellbeing by supporting the critical needs of three of their key stakeholders – students, teachers and administrators.

“Students studying subjects they are interested in are more engaged, which helps their learning journey and providing administrators with the tools and advice they need to succeed makes the process simple and efficient,” he said.

“An environment where success is achievable, thorough and relatively easy to achieve is an environment which develops wellbeing.”

Emmanuel said Tes is also helping educators reduce their workload by significantly cutting down on how much time is needed to construct the timetable.

“Creating a timetable is a complex task. It has always been complex and while schools and curriculum are structured as they are, it will remain complex,” he said.

“A key focus of ours is to make timetabling easy. We focus on making our products intuitive and easy to use. We are building features that behave in a way that experienced timetablers expect them to behave.”

Emmanuel says this approach in turn makes Tes’ products easy to learn and adopt.

“Another focus of ours is to create intelligent products. Products that can actually solve problems like teacher clashes or poor lesson spread using smart algorithms. Our algorithms do the majority of the calculations required for excellent and efficient timetables, capable of some 30,000 alternate timetables per second,” he said.

“This focus results in our schools having to spend hours and days creating their timetables versus weeks using more traditional methods.”

Michael Emmanuel, Managing Director of Tes Timetable powered by Edval, works with schools to find the timetabling balance between operational efficiency, teacher workload and student satisfaction.