4 considerations when timetabling for remote learning

The school day has changed so why not the timetable? Here are some tips for making your timetable more remote-learning ready

Tes Editorial

timetabling for remote learning

Remote learning has ripped up the rule book when it comes to the school day.

Instead of drafty classrooms, teachers now flit between online breakout rooms, while an unruly class can be silenced in one click. So in this new virtual education landscape, why has the traditional school timetable been copy and pasted over without a second thought?

Remote learning comes with a whole new set of considerations when it comes to learning and logistics. While student screen time means that running a full day of lessons should be carefully considered, moving between classes now looks very different without corridors to traverse.

So here are some things to consider when timetabling for online learning:

Keep things simple

Everyone involved in remote learning is feeling the strain. Whether you’re a teacher, a student or a supervising parent, you’ve probably reached your threshold when it comes to fixing technical issues and uttering ‘I think you’re on mute’.

With that in mind, keep the timetable as simple as you can. Can you have one double lesson instead of two singles? This halves the number of potential login issues and allows for things inevitably taking a little longer online.

Know your (and their) limits

When planning your timetable bear in mind the amount of screen time learners are being exposed to. Even in physical classrooms, expecting children to absorb information over a seven-hour day is asking an awful lot.

In this interview featured on Tes News, cognitive scientist Jared Cooney Horvath explains why we should be aware of learners limitations when timetabling. His research suggests that long days aren’t advisable, so leave periods of the day for reading, exercise and more lightweight learning.

Can you combine classes?

With staff potentially off sick, homeschooling themselves or supporting vulnerable family, being able to free up other teachers can help mitigate against absence.

Where possible why not combine classes so instruction is given by one teacher, before breaking out into smaller groups with the supervision of support staff.

Think of the parents

Parents are suddenly much more involved in learning that you’re used to, or perhaps you’d like. However, keeping in touch with them regularly can help iron out problems, increase engagement and help keep tabs on any safeguarding concerns.

Think about factoring in time for parent one-to-ones or drop-in sessions. With the added flexibility that Zoom and Teams have ushered in, the need for group parent evenings is thankfully no longer there.

To find out more about how smarter timetabling can help improve your school's timetable for remote learning download our free guide.