Your Primary Timetable – how it’s done.

In answer to a few questions about timetabling I am going to give a few more details about how to approach it and how it is structured.

For more detail please see the NQT guide which looks at creating a “balanced curriculum.”

A Blank timetable 

Looking at a blank timetable is always a little daunting – just where do we put things and how long should they last?

Here is a blank timetable – its generic and you can scribble on it and put in extra lines and divisions etc.

Let’s look at a few points that we can see….

  • The thick black line is lunchtime
  • There are 4 sessions marked out in the morning and 4 in the afternoon – however you can run lessons across 2 sessions or across 1.5 sessions or even 1/2 sessions…the choice is yours

The first thing to do is to print out a few blanks because you will not get it sorted out on the first attempt! We are also going to work in pencil in order to rub out our mistakes!

Timetables are not easy to do but they do get easier with practice

Getting started…

The list above shows both curriculum subjects and also the recommended times that they should be taught. This is the old list that was expected by OFSTED a few years ago – but you can use it as a general guide on the times as it will make sure you achieve a balance across your subjects.

(The above list works on a 10 week term but won’t affect things when you make your timetable.)

First things to timetable 

The first things to timetable are what you want to do immediately after Registration – it may be…

  • Phonics 20 minutes
  • Handwriting
  • Diary writing
  • Assembly?

I used to do Phonics for 20 mins 4 days a week (Fridays was always a different day for me!) – so in this case I used to draw a line in the 1st square to show where my phonics teaching came ..what it was and the end time.

The rest of that square and the next square was for Maths…put the name and end time and mark when break time is. We are now half way through the morning.

After break it is usually English all the way up to Lunch (generally at least 1 hour) – what you have to remember with English is that it is not just writing , comprehension, grammar – but the times also include the Phonics sessions, reading time and handwriting….so make sure that you get these timetabled in – however reading and handwriting usually occur in the afternoons but hey that’s up to you to decide but they have to go in somewhere!

Fridays was usually my test day and finishing off – so leave that blank for the moment and we can complete that later.

Reading to your children – this is important  so try to timetable it in for 15 mins each day…depending on what else is happening in the school timetable (assemblies etc) you may be able to do this …at the end of each day – before lunch or after lunch – but do try to get it in.

Afternoon timetabling

As a generalisation we can say that everything else has to go into the afternoon sessions – you may have some carry over with some aspects of the English but by enlarge the afternoons are where you are looking to cover all the rest of the curriculum other than Maths and English.

You can see from the subject list we had earlier what there needs to be included and for generally what length of time.

How do we approach this?

There is 1 variable here that you will need to take into account and as such if you are planning your timetable in advance then this can alter it – this is the overall school timetables for such areas as the HALL and possibly COMPUTERS (room?)…there may be others depending on your school.

But in advance – have a go at timetabling in your afternoons and then when school timetables appear see how close you can get to those times you have set in pencil in your class timetable. If you can match then that’s great – but it may be that you have to use different days and so you have to re- jig things about.

Here’s some points to remember –

  • P.E covers all the aspects including games (you will not be doing everything each term but you will need to make changes across the year)
  • Art includes design technology – you may wish to do all Art 1 term but you will need to offset this next term with D/T
  • Computers really depends on your school – some schools are very good at this whereas other have no equipment and so do nothing!
  • Humanities covers History and geography – these are not generally covered together – and so 1 term may have a History theme and the next a Geog theme.
  • Your school may use specialist teachers for R.E or P.E but you will still have to liaise with them about coverage.
  • Don’t forget your release time – although again you will have to liaise with the member of staff about what you wish to be covered.

Subject Balance 

Subject balance is IMPORTANT so do try to stick approximately to the times set in the list. Your school may or may not give guidance on this and accordingly may or may not check. (I always did).

To achieve the hours as stated on the list is difficult so I would recommend you follow the lead of the school if they have one and if not then plan your timetable “with regard to” subject emphasis shown.


You will not get your timetable correct at the first go – don’t panic and keep shuffling things around. Make sure you cover all the subjects and structure your week to suit both the school organisation and also your personal preferences.

Hope this helps








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