How to make your school’s timetabling seamless
A significant factor driving workload issues for principals and other school leaders is the quality of their school’s timetable. After all, a poor-quality timetable can require more time in delivering a school’s planned curriculum over the course of a year.
One organisation helping principals resolve this issue is Edval – one of Australia’s leading timetabling services. The company was founded in 1998 by Dr Tim Cooper and his brother Chris Cooper. Dr Cooper undertook an algorithmic approach to timetabling as part of his PhD thesis. The idea grew out of Dr Cooper’s research into the high school scheduling problem, dating back to 1993.
Today, more than 1,000 Australian schools are using Edval to streamline their scheduling process and generate customised, highly detailed timetables quickly and without the need for lengthy administrative processes.
Indeed, this was a stand-out feature for Bede Polding College principal, Mark Compton, who has implemented the Edval timetabling service at four of the schools he’s worked in.
“Timetabling with Edval can all be done at the ease of working in your own environment, so you don’t have to travel anywhere,” Compton told The Educator. “It’s also done seamlessly using modern technology to communicate with Edval, and their ability to respond to your particular needs in a really good timeframe sets them apart from many of their competitors with whom I’ve worked in the past.” Compton said the timetabling service is in stark contrast to the “old way of doing timetabling”.
“They may as well be a whiteboard or blackboard with notes stuck up with pins, whereas Edval allows you, in really good time, to make changes, optimise and explore the many different ways the timetable could look,” he said.
‘A whole-of-school impact’
Compton said he has seen a very positive impact across the school as a result of using the timetabling service.
“In many ways, strategic resourcing is, in the role of principal, a very important part of one’s job, and what Edval does is allows you not necessarily to replace like for like,” he said.
“You can think outside the square, and the real benefit of Edval is the ease with which you can generate a timetable and share it with the community.”
Compton said a challenge for large secondary schools is the “fluid nature” of staffing, but this issue is mitigated through Edval’s ability to provide a multitude of options for the person putting the timetable together.
“Teachers come and go, and what Edval allows you to do is put the right person in each class in terms of teaching. You can drag and drop and use the in-built auto functions to assist the person who is constructing the timetable,” he said.
“In many ways, the demands on the person constructing the timetable are enhanced, and the quality of the timetable you can produce is better than any other product I’ve used in the past.”
Compton recalled the lengthy administrative process of creating timetables at one of the previous schools he worked in.
“You’d have a lot of people tied up for a long period of time, manually constructing what the following year would look like. So, in many ways, Edval frees up those people.” Another tangible benefit of the service, Compton said, is the quality of the product at the end of the process.
“The timetable that is generated is far superior because you’re really getting the right person in the right seat and on the right bus,” he said.
“This is mission critical, particularly in a big secondary school where there are many permutations to the different things that can happen on any given day.”
Donna Machado, head of sales and marketing at Edval, said that the company has been working hard for 25 years to ensure that its software meets the needs of schools, and the students within those schools.
“We have five core values – exceed expectations; own the problem, provide the solution; build trust through integrity; nurture passionate professional people; and evolve and innovate – that drive every customer interaction we have,” she told The Educator.
“In terms of the work we do with schools, it’s important to note that a lot of the people that work for Edval are former teachers themselves, so that means we understand the people we’re working for, because we’ve been there in front of students and creating timetables.”