Timetable Extras

Adding Meetings to Timetables (read time 4 minutes)

Meetings have become an important part of school life and it can be very useful to include these in your timetable.  In this example, we will add a meeting for Assistant Principals and also a Pastoral Care Meeting.

Please Note: Meeting are restrictive and it is important to remember that those teachers in attendance at meetings cannot teach their lessons at this time and this is particularly restrictive if any of those teachers in attendance have some of their lessons in blocks.  This would of course prevent the other teachers in those same blocks from teaching their lessons at this time. Please do not add a large number of meetings as you will make your timetable construction restrictive.

The principle here is that we create a one lesson 'Teaching Group' for each meeting to be scheduled and we do this in any year not used for student teaching groups.

As there is no official subject called 'Meeting', we will first modify an existing subject from the official list.

Go to Settings > Subjects from the main menu.

In the Filter Subject field, enter the name of a subject that you do not use in your school.  In the the example below I will use 'Typewriting'

This is a subject on the official list of department subjects.  

Here, we will modify if to suit our requirements by editing it and changing the Subject Name to Meeting and the Short Code to MEET as in the screenshot below.

Save when you are finished these changes.

You could then modify another subject not used in your school and create a subject called 'Pastoral Care'. I have chosen Arabic (59) and made edit changes to create Pastoral Care with a short code of PC.

We then open our Timetable Construction file and go to the Class Data Screen.

Select the year IB5

This will be empty of any data and will can not add any teaching group to this year without first Adding a Base Class using the Actions Button

After clicking on Add Base Class you will be asked to enter a Code and we entered M

This created a Base Class called 12M

We are going to use the Block section in class data to add the meeting so that the solver will try to schedule it before the core is scheduled.

Click on the Button New Block and then click on the grey cell (as shown in the screenshot below to add the 'Teaching Group' Meeting which will suffice as our Assistant Principals Meeting.

The popup box will appear allowing you to the subject 'Meeting'

In the example above, the principal is added as the main teacher and the Deputy Principal and other Assistant Principals are added as additional teachers. (Remember that you will need to hold down Ctrl or cmd (Mac) to allow you to select multiple teachers in the Additional Teachers section of the window..
Then you click Save.

The Meeting is then created in Class Data as in the screenshot below.

We then create another New Block and repeat the above process to add the Pastoral Care Meeting

Some Teacher Errors might show on the top left of the screen if you have breached the Maximum Hours set for each teacher in the Teacher Data Screen when you were adding these teacher to the Meetings.  The software believes that these meeting teaching groups are regular lessons.  We must solve there errors or we would not be allowed to generate a timetable.  You can solve these errors by increasing the maximum hours permitted for the teacher in the Teacher Data Screen.

In the Construction Screen, the IB5 year will now appear at the bottom and these lessons can be scheduled Manually or Automatically.

To schedule these meetings manually

Click on any period where you want either meeting to be scheduled.

The popup box shown below appears.

Click on either Meeting ( I have chosen Pastoral Care here)

The Pastoral Care Meeting is now scheduled for 12.05 on Wednesday and this will appear on the timetable of any teacher (main or additional teacher) assigned to the Pastoral Care Teaching Group.

Scheduling Automatically

If the Automatic option is your preference, perhaps you should use 'Restrictions' under the Actions Button to control where these meeting will be scheduled by telling the solver where you want to exclude them from being scheduled.  The restrictions screen will allow you to exclude specified periods for specific teaching groups.

The next 4 screenshots will show you how to arrange it so that the Assistant Principals' Meeting cannot take place as follows:

  • Monday or Friday
  • Any Afternoon
  • First Period each day
  • Period following Morning Break 

This will still allow 12 periods where the meeting can take place and all of these periods are suitable to all teachers in attendance.

Select Restrictions from the Construction Screen under the Action Button.

Click on Exclude teaching groups on periods.

Enter the expression 12MEET* to specify the Meeting or 12PC* to specify the Pastoral Care Meeting.  A separate restriction would need to be entered for each meeting. 

Then Select & Save.

This above screenshot will prevent the Meeting taking place in any of those green periods (see screenshot above) but this will still allow the solver to choose 12 periods where it is permitted to schedule the meeting.  This is less restrictive than manually scheduling the lesson on one period as the meeting cannot move from this period when scheduling the remainder of the timetable.

Please read the article, An Alternative Method of 'Fixing' Lessons on the Grid  to learn more about this method of scheduling.