Matched timetables for NQTs – what do you think?

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    • #51493
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      An important strand to our Future Physics Leaders project is a pilot study of using matched timetables. The June issue of Classroom Physics explained what this is and why we are doing it (see brief summary below).

      We hope to gather more evidence from this pilot. But we’d also like to hear your thoughts:

      ● Does your science department already offer NQTs a matched timetable? If so, how does your school make this possible?
      ● Would your school be interested in offering a matched timetable?
      ● Is this the best way to help NQTs develop the skills and confidence they need?

      “There is some evidence to suggest that teachers who teach within their specialism are more likely to stay in the profession. Workload is cited as a big factor in teacher attrition. A matched timetable maximises the number of lessons an NQT teaches within their specialism, minimising the extra preparation needed for biology and chemistry lessons.

      “It also enables NQTs to teach repeat classes, for example, three Year 9 classes. Teaching repeat classes both reduces preparation time and empowers the new teacher to develop as a physics teacher more rapidly. This isn’t a reduced teaching timetable, but can considerably reduce workload in the first years of teaching.

      “As well as making NQT positions more attractive to candidates who are physicists, it will also mean that more students have the opportunity of being
      taught by a subject specialist.”


    • #51535
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      This seems like a sensible thing to do in my opinion. The benefits listed in the post above could potentially benefit NQTs greatly, particularly teaching “repeat” classes, as that is where often a teacher can refine their practice and try new strategies.

      I have the feeling that giving matched timetables to NQTs might be more complex than expected though. Possible problems I can think of are:

      •  Matching the timetable for one/all NQT(s) could mean having to match the timetables of other teachers, which could potentially reduce the collaboration between the three sciences within the department
      • SLTs might argue that teaching outside subject specialism is an essential part of NQTs professional development, though it could be argued back that teachers in the humanities faculty are seldom asked to teach outside their specialism…
      • The same year group is often taught the same subjects at the same time for practical reasons, so it might not be possible to give NQTs multiple Yr9 classes for example…
    • #51539
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      I think allowing teachers to teach to their specialism would be a big boost for everyone, not just NQTs. However I agree it can be a particular problem for them, I know one physics graduate who is going to teach Maths instead of Physics for the simple reason he can’t stand biology, I know another from a few years back that taught maths rather than physics for similar reasons.

      We only have two physics teachers and one is an NQT. Next year GCSE will only be taught by specialists, leaving a lot of KS3 with non specialist, especially in Physics. Perhaps we will find another Physics teacher next year.

    • #52230
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      I am starting my NQT year in September, I will be teaching physics initially with up to 3 classes of chemistry a week later on in the year when I have taught the physics to these groups. I think the matched timetable is a great idea and I am very happy to be teaching my specialism for the majority of the time. I will also have 6 year 10 classes which I will teach the same/similar content to with changes for ability levels. The only real drawbacks I can see for this are year 10 parent’s evening, I won’t get to see everyone, and when it comes to year 10 testing I will have a lot of marking to do. These aren’t things that happen every day, so I am hoping it will go well. I feel more confident in this and was very happy when I was told how few out of subject lessons I would have.

    • #57592
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      If this is not too late for a contribution – my two cents.

      In my opinion matched timetables are a brilliant idea, especially for NQTs. As well as saving on planning time, it is also great for pedagogical improvements. I’ve been lucky enough to have duplicate classes on my timetables quite often and it means that every time I teach something I am forced to reflect on it and make improvements before getting to teach it again. Otherwise it might be a couple of years before you teach the same content, and you will probably make the same mistakes again.

      I feel less strongly about teaching within specialism, as I think at KS3/4 level non-specialists often do as well/better at conveying ideas simply as specialists, and the content is so basic that there’s little benefit in a degree in the subject. In general I think students on course for grades 6-9 tend to like a subject expert, but with lower ability classes relationships are more important, so I’d rather have one class for all of science than 3 for just physics. Obviously this means less “matching”, so it’s a trade off.

    • #57611
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      Hi all,

      On the topic of timetable models in the sciences, we’re currently running a short survey to find out how schools carve up teaching time at GCSE. If you’d be interested in helping us out, please see below!


      Please take part in our ten minute online survey on models used for timetabling the sciences at GCSE.

      The Institute of Physics, Royal Society of Biology, Association for Science Education, Royal Society and Royal Society of Chemistry are working with Shift Learning to conduct research to understand the variety of timetable models used by schools in England to teach the sciences at GCSE. Your feedback will directly feed into their education policy work.

      We’d like to invite you to take part in a short online survey – it will take about ten minutes. As a thank you for your time, we’d like to enter you into a prize draw to win £250.

      We’re looking to gather feedback from those who have a good knowledge of how the sciences are timetabled at GCSE level at your school. If you feel one of your colleagues is better placed to take part, please forward this email onto them.

      Click on the link below to take part: 

      Closing date: 5th November

      Completion time: 10 minutes

      Prize draw: £250

      If you have any questions about the research, please contact Elsie Lauchlan at Shift Learning via email at [email protected] or via telephone on 0207 253 8959.

      Thank you in advance for your help!

      Shift Learning adheres to the Market Research Society Code of Conduct and the Data Protection Act 1998. You can find out more about them on their website or to find out how they handle your data please visit their policy page. Please feel free to check their validity by calling the Market Research Society UK Freephone verification service free* on 0500 39 69 99. To find out more about the prize draw please read their terms and conditions. Shift Learning will be handling the prize draw.

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