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Six-day vs five-day timetable: What are the benefits?

Are you having trouble understanding your child’s timetable? Or perhaps you’ve wondered why some schools use a six-day timetable system?

The common secondary school timetable, which you may be familiar with from your own schooling days, is five periods per day across a five-day week from Monday to Friday. Some schools, however utilise a six-day timetable, which consists of six periods per day across a rotating six-day cycle.

Here’s a look at what that means:

Week 1   Week 2   Week 3  
Monday Day One Tuesday Day One Wednesday Day One
Tuesday Day Two Wednesday Day Two Thursday Day Two
Wednesday Day Three Thursday Day Three Friday Day Three
Thursday Day Four Friday Day Four Monday Day Four
Friday Day Five Monday Day Five Tuesday Day Five
Monday Day Six Tuesday Day Six Wednesday Day Six


And so on and so forth….

So what are the benefits of the six-day timetable?

  • Consistency. Public holidays and days off throughout a year result in students who have a five-day timetable missing the same classes. A student who has Science or Physical Education on a Monday or Friday, for example, could miss as many as 10 sessions during the course of the school year. The six-day timetable provides 11 percent more time in each subject area.
  • Continuity of learning. With the six-day timetable, teachers see their senior students every day ensuring a better continuity of learning. If a senior student happens to be sick and misses a day of school, it is only one day they miss with a particular teacher, rather than two or three – as would be the case with a five-day timetable. It is also easier for the student to catch up when they return to school.
  • Flexibility. For teachers, in schools with smaller class sizes, the 36-period teaching load per week allows them more options and flexibility for delivering the curriculum to students.
  • Shorter periods. More periods per day means lessons are shorter in length - 45-50 minutes - and more focused. Longer periods require teachers to keep students more on-task.

So while the advantages are clear, there is one disadvantage to the six-day timetable. There are fixed activities like sports practices or school duties that must occur on a daily basis rather than on a rotating schedule. This does require good planning and for students and staff to be well organised in remembering what academic day of the week it is, and what activities fall on that particular day.

While the five-day/five-period timetable might be the norm, there are schools who run a five-day/six-period and even a five-day/seven-period timetable – opting for double periods in order to spend larger blocks of time with their students.

At St Paul’s, we have chosen the six-day timetable, as we believe it improves the educational delivery outcomes for our students and contributes to our school’s overall academic success. At the end of the day, the timetabling decision is what works best for the school and for St Paul’s the six-day/six-period timetable, produces the desired results especially when it comes to teaching seniors. St Paul’s has a high on-task rate and our individualised learning environment means our students get as much done in the 45-50 minute periods as students in schools that have hour-long periods.

 

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