Principals turn chaos into clockwork

by James Reid15 Sep 2016

Without an organised timetable, schools can be chaotic places.
Whether it’s booking a room, managing student data or organising a replacement teacher, things don’t always go smoothly when they need to. However, some principals have been able to resolve these issues in a simple and efficient way.
Edval Timetables came onto the scene 20 years ago, providing timetabling software, solutions and support to schools across all states and territories, as well as Ireland, UK and Asia.
Over 700 schools and hundreds of thousands of students are using the service, which is helping to simply complex day-to-day administrative processes for educators.
Giving teachers flexibility

Mark Burgess, assistant principal at Northern Beaches Christian School, located in Terry Hills, told The Educator that the single motivating factor behind adopting Edval was so that his teachers could book their own rooms for lessons.

“Before this, some of our teachers had to use rooms that didn’t have desks and weren’t set up properly for classes, so bringing Edval on board meant that throughout the day, our teachers would have the flexibility to move to the space that was most suitable for their lesson,” he said.
Burgess pointed out that his school is now operating more smoothly as a result.
“The value for us in using Edval is that they have the process as well as the software. They provide guidance and support in the process of timetabling, and this is important because it can be a time-consuming thing,” he said.
Saving time for principals
Sean Mangan, assistant principal at Christian Brothers College, located in Adelaide, says his school began using Edval six years ago to implement a more efficient way of timetabling.
“I worked with Catholic Education, and they had a reference group that compared different timetabling packages. That reference group made a recommendation in favour of Edval,” he explained.
“My understanding of that recommendation was that Edval had a more powerful algorithm in terms of constructing timetables than the other products.”
Mangan said his school has just completed the subject selection for 2017, which is now a more organised process.
“Our students are now entering the data themselves, whereas before, the student filled out a form and we entered all of that data on their behalf,” he said.
“You could imagine how time-consuming it would have been to sit down and enter 900 students’ data. Students now go online, enter a password and are presented with choices they have for the following year.”
Mangan also pointed to the data integrity of the service, which has avoided confusion around students’ subject selection.
“If the student has entered the data, the parents then sign off on it once the form is printed. This allows us as educators to come back and say ‘this is what you entered’ rather than the student disputing that they picked that subject,” he said.
“Also, we have the daily organisation done through Edval, which means that if any teachers are away and relief teachers are required, this is done through Edval.”
Providing increased autonomy
Aquinas College, located in Perth, has been working with Edval since 2014 in the development of the colleges’ 2015 timetable.
Its deputy principal, Nick Ognenis, said the key reason for the move to Edval was the “increased flexibility and autonomy” it gave the school to manage its timetable compared to previous years.
Edval has allowed the college to implement certain timetable blocking (half-blocking) patterns that was not previously possible without compromising student subject selection choices,” he said.
Ognenis added that the timetabling service has been instrumental in improving the school’s ability to manage its supervision roster through Edval Daily.
“It has also increased the flexibility of our Examination timetables that are also developed using Edval Daily,” he said.
“Other principals shouldn’t’ hesitate in taking a closer look at Edval to help with their school’s timetabling.
“If a school is interested in developing a timetable that is more flexible, provides the school with greater choice and saves a few dollars in the long-run, then Edval is worth considering.”