Timetables - is this normal?

(15 Posts)
Lules Mon 12-Sep-16 10:49:14

I started a new job this academic year. 3 days a week. I have a 1 year old. Despite me asking since I was offered it, I wasn't told which days I was teaching until last week and term starts in a couple of weeks. Given the short notice it's not surprising that I can't find childcare for one of the days so my mum is going to have to travel to stay with me the day before as a temporary measure. I've been told the timetable can't change. The timetable for next semester is completely different so I'll have to rearrange everything with nursery then again. No one seems to recognise that this is a problem. I specifically wanted a part time job but it's actually made everything more complicated.

I'm sorry this is long and rambling. Part of me just wants to quit the job although I know that would be really stupid.

fr567 Tue 13-Sep-16 07:46:45

I don't know about the part-time aspect, but what you describe for the timetabling sounds very standard for us (unfortunately).

ArthurFoulkesayce Tue 13-Sep-16 07:52:51

That's pretty standard I'm a single mum and student nurse I have childcare Booker 8-5 five days a week.
I have a great childminder I keep on a retainer and use my 15 hours. She also doesn't charge me for one day as she feels unfair as I don't always use my childcare.
It's so annoying tbf when my childcare is £800 a month.

Lules Tue 13-Sep-16 08:09:39

It's so frustrating. Other people working part time in other jobs agrees that they'll work mon-wed or whatever. In my previous institution part time people had specific non-working days, which didn't change even year to year.

arclight Tue 13-Sep-16 10:18:30

Agree that this is pretty standard, but of course it's not true that timetables are set in stone. Was previously told that particular 1st year slot was immovable due to the large numbers (~300 students) involved. However, when I missed a lecture due to unforeseen circumstances another free slot was found pretty quickly!

It's always worth talking to HoD and seeing if anything can be done, but make sure to go in to the discussion with some clear, viable options in mind.

Lules Tue 13-Sep-16 11:44:11

That's another problem - a lot of people are on leave or away at conferences so there hasn't really been anyone around to talk to. I will try next week. Even moving one seminar later in the day would make a lot of difference so you would have thought that was possible.

And I know I sound whiny here but I haven't been like that at work. I just needed to vent

Bountybarsyuk Tue 13-Sep-16 12:08:39

We are allowed to fill in a form to say we won't work certain hours for childcare or caring responsibilities, so I don't do 8.30 lectures or after 5.30 as no childcare.

I think releasing the timetables very late is unfortunately quite normal.

The proliferation of flexible courses, rather than everyone being on one programme often means timetabling is driven by when the students are all available rather than when the teacher is able/willing to teach. In our institution, I don't think you could specify which days you don't teach on, but I would ask, no harm in doing so.

Also, our timetable department will sometimes shift one lecture if you ask nicely, but they won't shift the whole thing drastically as they can't. When I didn't teach a slot last year, there was no replacement slot available for all students on my course, so a few had to have a second individual slot. Timetables are super-tight because of increased student numbers.

WiIdfire Tue 13-Sep-16 12:16:33

I have a different job with the same problem. I work Mon, Wed, Thurs. in six months, I'll work Tues, Wed, Thurs. six months after that I'll work a different three days. I get very little notice which days I'll be working. Its a pain, but there's not much to be done about it. I just found a nursery who are happy to be a bit flexible, and they'll switch days so far as they can, when I need to.

dimples76 Tue 13-Sep-16 21:59:53

At my university if you work PT like me you can fix the days so my teaching changes between semesters one and two but it's always the same days of the week.

Have you made a formal request for flexible working - you could ask for days to be fixed

Lules Tue 13-Sep-16 22:08:50

I haven't been there long enough to make a formal request, but it's something to consider for next year. As I said, at my previous university you could fix your days. It's just been hard getting anyone to recognise that it's a problem here. Which as I spend my academic life writing about issues to do with equality and inclusion seems kind of ironic.

fluffikins Wed 14-Sep-16 17:57:47

Standard. Once you've been there a while they might hold your slots for next year so it's more predictable. My advice is butter up whoever does timetabling requests for your department. Regular chocolate/biscuits go down well

Closetlibrarian Sun 18-Sep-16 20:13:00

All our PT/ associate lecturers have to fill out a 'flexible working request' form which says which days of the week they're available. E.g. if you're on a 0.5 contract you're allowed to specify which 2.5 days of the week you don't work.

But, yes, timetables being finalised late is usual.

ilovesushi Sat 24-Sep-16 13:10:37

I don't know whether it's standard practice or not, but it sounds completely unreasonable to give you such short notice. How on earth can you organise your childcare. What a lot of unnecessary stress! I hope you can work it out. x

Newtoday Sat 24-Sep-16 13:17:43

Normal. Timetables rev often subject to modularisation and so very set to allow for that. It's an incredibly complex science, organising a timetable at a university!

worstofbothworlds Mon 26-Sep-16 09:49:02

What does your contract say? Is it fixed days?

I have been up, down, and back and forth on this and am still having issues.
In theory we tell the university which days we can and cannot teach and they set the timetable.

We also have to book nursery before the timetables come out and we cannot get extra days confirmed at the right point.

We mainly team teach so I'm not teaching every week during any given term, so this term I had to push for my weeks to be rearranged. In fact part of the teaching was on days I do work, and another part on a day I don't, and I was happy to teach different weeks (so a long and thin slot rather than a short and fat slot if that makes sense) to avoid the days I don't have childcare, but but the other people teaching on the module didn't want to do that.

We found the room/timetable slot ourselves (me and the very helpful secretary) so is it worth looking at that year group's timetable and the university room timetable to see if you can find an alternative?

We never get any slots held for the following year except for our ginormous 300+ first year class that only fits in one room on campus (so all the classes that have to have that room keep to the same timetable and the whole thing works from there I think).

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