What to do if you need to change your timetable completely to align with Covid-19 regulations

Please note: This guidance is relevant for schools still open to the majority of pupils. If your school is fully closed or only open to vulnerable and key worker students, we do not recommend replacing your timetable.


Your timetable for 2020

Guidance on managing student 'bubbles'

The DfE advises that wherever possible, schools should continue to maintain distinct groups or ‘bubbles’ that do not mix by splitting students into classes (recommended for primaries) or year groups (recommended for secondaries and larger schools to enable a breadth of the curriculum). Teachers and other staff can move between different bubbles where needed.

This means if you are a secondary or all-through and usually use mixed-year registration forms you may want to consider changing this so students attend registration only with other students within their year group. You can see how to do this in this articleSupport structures may be easier to set up within year groups, and if further social distancing and school closures are required again in the future, this structure will minimise the admin required to amend your setup.

The curriculum

The DfE guidance outlines schools should teach a broad curriculum of subjects while prioritising covering the most important missed content where possible (such as prioritising English and Maths where needed) without removing subjects from the curriculum.

Curriculum planning should be informed by assessments of student's current ability and progress through the year, perhaps in the form of regular Formative Assessment, but there is no requirement to do so if this would burden you to set this up and your teachers to input marks.

When timetabling, student 'bubbles' should be kept apart and schools should consider staggering start and end times and break times and lunchtimes where possible if required to keep children separate. This should not reduce the amount of overall teaching time. Schools should aim to return to the school’s normal curriculum in all subjects by the Summer term 2021.

Making changes if needed

Editing your existing timetable in Arbor

You can easily make changes to the timetable slots you've already set up or imported from TimeTabler in Arbor from School > Timetable > Timetable Administration > Timetable Slots.

  • To edit timetable slot rooms, staff, times and dates and delete unneeded slots: Editing timetable slots and lesson times. For large schools, we recommend making changes in batches and waiting until the changes have taken effect to begin on the next batch.
  • To add new timetable slots just go to School > Programmes > Courses and click the lesson, then click +Add in the Classes & Lessons section.


Importing a new timetable from TimeTabler

You may wish to create a timetable with staggered start times, breaks and lunches in TimeTabler and import this into Arbor. You can see how to import your timetable in this article.

However, to make changes in TimeTabler to stagger start and end times and breaks, you would need to set up additional periods to place lessons into, which could take some time. Therefore it may be easier and quicker, in this case, to simply to edit the slots directly in Arbor as shown in the section above.

Moving students to different classes and registers

If you need to move students into different class groups for spring, you'll need to end their enrolment in their autumn classes and move them to their spring classes once you've set them up using the methods above.

Take a look at the Enrolment section of our help centre to see how to enrol students, and use these resources:

Setting your Roll Call times

You may have staggered start times at your school to enable student groups to practise distancing.  For instance, Year 7s registration time at 8:00 - 8:30, Year 8s at 8.15 - 8:45,  and Year 9s at 8:30 - 9:00.

To make sure all student's registration marks are pulled into their Statutory attendance, you may need to extend your roll call times. So for my example, my roll call times would need to be extended to between 8.00 and 9.00.

If you do not extend your roll call times, and registration periods that do not overlap with your roll call times will not contribute to your students' and school's attendance. For example, my roll call time starts at 8.25 and this class ends at 8.20 and so any marks for this class will not count towards statutory attendance.




Adding new roll call times

If you have the General Admin: Administer permission, you'll be able to extend your roll call times between 2 pm and 5 pm from Students > Attendance > Admin > Roll Call Setup.

To prevent recalculation of past statutory Roll Call attendance, do not edit your current Roll Call times. Instead, click +Add to add a new one from September moving forwards. 




This will automatically add an end date for your current Roll Call times as the day before. Then click into your PM Roll Call time and repeat the process.



Timetable Periods 

Some of our schools define timetable periods in Arbor to help align attendance marks together.

We recommend you do not use timetable periods from September if you'll be staggering registration and break times. This is because it's likely your classes across different year groups will not align into set timetable periods. Setting up timetable periods will make it more difficult to manage attendance, such as distinguishing when a mark was taken on the Bulk Edit Marks page.

If you have already defined timetable periods, you may wish to delete them. To do so, go to School > Timetable > Timetable Administration > Timetable Settings. Make sure you have the right academic year, then click the box next to the blue pencil icon to select all your periods. Click the blue pencil icon to select to Delete timetable periods.



Editing your Meal Sittings

If you use the Meals module in Arbor you may wish to create different meal times for different student groups. You might need to edit your meal sitting times, or create more meal sittings from School > Meals > Setup > Meal > Meal Sittings Scheduled.

Click into a slot to edit the time of the sitting, or click the green button at the top to add a new sitting.



Here's an example second meal sitting I've set up, leaving room in between for cleaning.



To move students to a different meal sitting, return back to the Setup page and click into the Attendees section and go to the Automatic Group Attendees tab. Here you'll see your student groups in each sitting.



To move a group into a different sitting, click the group and click Remove Automatic Attendees.



Then click +Add in the section for your other sitting and select that student group to add them.




Checking your timetable works for everyone


You can check for clashes in student or staff timetables from School > Timetable > School Timetable > Clashes.

  • If you have many clashes for the same lesson, you might want to edit the time of the lesson to a better slot, shown in the section above on editing your timetable.
  • If you have just a few clashes, here's how to resolve them: I can see that Aaron has a clash as his Maths and English lessons are scheduled to be at the same time. 



To fix this, I can go to the Enrolment section of his Student Profile and transfer him to a different class that takes place at a time that doesn't clash.



For some enrolments, these will have been done automatically from a teaching group and you won't be able to edit from here.



You'll need to click into the enrolment into the teaching group and edit that instead.


Timetable gaps

If a student is missing from a register you might need to fill in any timetable gaps for them. Take a look at their Calendar on their Student Profile. In this example, I can see a gap at 11 am on Thursdays.



To add them into the class they should be in at that time, go to the Enrolment section on their Student Profile and click +Add to add them to the right course.

In the slide over, choose the date they should have been enrolled in the class, and choose the classes and top-level courses to enrol them into, then click Enrol in Courses & Classes.



The student will then no longer have a gap in their calendar.


Room clashes and free rooms

Check if there are any room clashes and ensure there is adequate spacing of classes to allow for cleaning from School > Timetable > Sites & Rooms > Room Timetable.



Find free rooms to move classes into from the Free Room Finder page.



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