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What Is The Ideal Teacher Timetable? (A Quiz!)

8 July 2019

July is the month when teachers learn what their teaching in September will look like. But how ideal is your timetable for next year? We’ve devised a timetable quiz so you can find out!

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A Short Intro To Timetables

For primary teachers, the main question is: are you happy with the year group and class you’ve been allocated?

Once again we learned that Reception and Year 6 teachers are most likely to stay where they are. Year 5 teachers are most likely to be moving.

But do you remember being asked what your ideal year group would be back in April? At the time, 63% said that your current year group is your ideal year group. Did the rest of you get your wish come true for next year? No! Just 8% of teachers had their wish come true this summer, i.e. they previously weren’t teaching their ideal year group but were allocated it this time round. Worse, 15% of teachers have had their dreams dashed, e.g. they said they were teaching your idea year group have now been moved to another year group!!!


Right… onto the complicated story of the secondary teachers who need to pore over their subject, course, class and room allocations for a while before forming a judgment.

When Becky and Laura started Teacher Tapp there was one question, more than any other, they were desperate to answer: Are teachers who are forced to teach across multiple classrooms more likely to leave their school? Becky’s NQT year was scarred by having to lug books between 13 different classrooms over a fortnight. Laura had her own classroom for two years and reckons it’s why she had a great initial experience. Later, she also had to teach across multiple classrooms, including one transition – with no changeover time – that involved six flights of stairs.

Are they correct? You will need to read to the end to find out!

In the meantime, however, we can see that teaching in so many classrooms is rare – but 1 in 20 teachers is teaching in 8 or more classrooms!

Those of you teaching in minority subjects are most likely to be using multiple classrooms. If it is because you are using specialist equipment in each one then that makes sense. But for others, it is simply because you are a ‘small’ subject who doesn’t get to have a dedicated corridor of rooms.

The Ideal Timetable Quiz Game!

It’s time to play our little game – have you got the ideal timetable? You can play it on your timetable this year, or use your new timetable if you have it. You get points for your answer to each question. At the end, add them up and see how you are doing.

Step One: Start by giving yourself zero points if you teach in just one classroom and one point if you teach in more than one.

Step Two: Ask yourself the fantasy timetable question. How many of your classes would you switch for another in  the school, given the chance? Give yourself zero points if you love all your classes and one point if you would trade some given half the chance.

[Note: We know the more inexperienced among you would trade more classes (see below). Is this because more established teachers get the nicer class allocations, or because inexperienced teachers struggle with more classes?]

Step Three: Fire yourself zero points if you studied everything you teach to at least A level, and one point if you are teaching subjects you didn’t yourself study at an advanced level.

Step Four: Were you trained to teach the subjects you are teaching right now? If so, give yourself zero points. Give yourself one point if you are teaching something you weren’t originally trained to teach.

Finally, Step Five: Do you feel you have sufficient background knowledge to teach all the lessons on your timetable? Give yourself zero points if you strongly agree and one point otherwise.

Calculate your score for the timetable quiz…

Time to find out how you did:

  • 0 points – Congratulations! You have the perfect timetable. Did you write it yourself?
  • 1 point – Almost perfect. You should be very happy.
  • 2 points – Not bad, though it could be better.
  • 3 points – Far from ideal but probably copeable.
  • 4 points – Danger Zone. Start roping in help and proactive strategies for September!
  • 5 points – Commiserations. We guess you’ve got two choices for the future. Befriend the timetabler or find another school!

The Million Dollar Question: Were Becky and Laura right?

So, were Becky and Laura right? Is having your own classroom SO IMPORTANT that those who don’t are more likely to leave?

Well, on the surface, there is no difference between you… 14% of you are leaving your school this year, whether or not you taught in many classrooms.

However, let’s look at classroom teachers without significant responsibilities. Remember, most SLT, Heads of Department and Heads of Year get a little office or at least a nice desk, and their teaching load is much lower, so maybe it doesn’t matter so much if they have to teach in multiple classrooms.

Here we find that 22% of classroom teachers without their own classroom are leaving at the end of the year, compared to 18% who do have their own classroom. The differences isn’t huge – unfortunately it isn’t big enough for us to be sure that teaching across multiple classrooms contributes to the decision to leave.

In conclusion: we can’t say for certain that we were wrong, but we certainly haven’t proven ourselves to be correct ?

Oh well. That’s data for you!

Finally, we know you love the tips…


If you enjoyed this week’s read on timetables you might enjoy our review from last year on how many teachers can reuse their lesson plans.

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Also…. don’t forget we have a poster for you to share in your staffroom (or even staff toilet) – download by clicking below

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