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Solving problems in the Sixth Form (Y12/13)

Solving Problems in your 'Sixth Form'

Schools with a 'Sixth Form' (Years 12-13 in England & Wales) usually have more flexibility for solving their timetable than 11-16 schools.  There is more data to handle, so it may look more complex, but you can find solutions and flexibility in the 6th Form that you cannot find lower down the school.

Among the reasons for this added flexibility are:

 1  -- Teaching Groups are often 'split' between 2 (or more ) teachers.  For example, the students have 5 periods of History, 2 periods with Mr Smith and 3 with Mrs Jones.

 2  -- Students at this age normally do not have lessons for the full timetable cycle, and sometimes the curricular structure does not fill the full cycle, or it is filled up with 'minority time'.

 3  --
Staff and students are more likely to be amenable to solutions outside the normal school day.  For example, a small Music group may survive by having some lessons before or after normal school, or in the lunch hour.    You may need some diplomacy to get agreement for this.

 4  --
It is often possible to move lessons 'out of block'.  
For example, although Physics is in Block A, one or more lessons may be placed in Block C's time, because for this particular cohort of students, Physics does not clash with any subjects in Block C.  Or the Physics can be placed in 'minority time'.

Note: When timetabling a school with a Sixth Form it is a normal temptation to start scheduling with the oldest students (Year 13, Upper Sixth).
This is often a mistake.
Logically you should start by scheduling the largest (fixed) teams of teachers ... and these are usually in Year 11, followed by Year 10.
And you can do this knowing that later, when you start scheduling the Sixth Form, you can use the 4 aspects of flexibility listed above.

For more details see Sections 12.10, 12.8, 11.6, 7.1 in The Timetabler's CookBook.

Practical ways to use each of the 4 aspects of flexibility above:

To take advantage of the flexibility offered by 'split teaching', which allows more 'musical chairs' moves in FIT, use Container Blocks, as explained in Worked Examples 3, 4, 5 in Section I in the TimeTabler Manual.
See also the HelpMovies on this topic.

If your curricular blocks do not take up the full timetable cycle, then you can add some 'Spread' to one or more of the Container Blocks.
If one Block is particularly tight, then add more Spread to that one.
See Section 12.6 in The Timetabler's CookBook.

To add some Spread to a block in TimeTabler, see section H25, part 4, in the TimeTabler Manual.

To allow for periods outside the usual working day, add extra periods when you set up the School Day on the School Structure Screen (see Section B5 in the Manual).
Then use the Class Availability Screen (see H14) to block off some periods for classes in the main school, but leave the extra periods available for Sixth Form lessons.

If you have already started the schedule then with care you may be able to add extra periods using Schedule->Check & Tidy->Add a Period. Then block off unwanted periods for classes in the main school on the Class Timetable Screen (see F15).

Moving lessons 'out of block'.  There are 2 main ways to do this.
It needs some explanation first.  The key points here are that:
(i) Lessons (activities) labelled with a Container ID of 'A' can only go in Container Block A.  They cannot go into any other Container Block.
(ii) For a lesson to be placed in Container Block C it must have a Container ID of 'C'.  If it has a Container ID of 'A' it cannot go in Block C.
(iii) So, to place a lesson 'out of block' you will have to change its Container ID to the appropriate letter (or, more dangerously, switch off containers, see below).

To see some Examples of how to do this, download this PDF.

Using these methods can often give you a surprising degree of flexibility in your timetable ... and they are a useful way of dealing with kickouts and solving kickout problems.

(But if you have a Sixth-form problem that you can't see how to solve, contact us via our Support Centre). 

Related articles:
- Scheduling special schools & small Sixth Forms
- Out-of-Block lessons in the Sixth Form
- Solving 'kick-outs'
- Extra lessons after school
- Scheduling IB


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By the TimeTabler Team