Walsall College provides individuals and employers with the highest quality education, skills development and training programmes, focused on the needs of a modern economy.
11,000 people study vocational technical qualifications, apprenticeships and higher education programmes each year, that enable them to progress and prosper in their chosen career pathways.
Starting with the introduction of the Study Programme, timetabling in further education became increasingly complex. This change in regulation coincided with a growth in Walsall College’s 16–18-year-old intake, which put pressure on the use of our resources. The College required a system which would meet the following criteria:
- Allow curriculum managers to timetable electronically instead of planning using paper.
- Give instant feedback on usage of resources.
- Integration with our core records system.
Walsall College adopted the CELCAT timetabling solution to plan our 2015-2016 academic year timetabling, which would then be exported from CELCAT and imported into our core Student Records System.
During the planning phase for 2015-2016, we noticed a number of improvements the adoption of CELCAT offered to the College, compared to the then current timetabling solution. Some examples include:
- Increase in speed of timetabling.
- Easier processing of changes to timetabling resources.
- Instant feedback of clashes across all of our resources.
- Quick user adoption and ease of use. Increase in the quality of timetables.
Following this period, the College reviewed the software used for the planning of timetabling and attendance monitoring and decided to take the full CELCAT product offering for both timetabling and attendance for the 2016-2017 academic year and beyond.
The review of the then current timetabling solution produced a number of objectives and challenges that needed to be overcome with the implementation of CELCAT as the timetabling planning, management and attendance solution.
- Automation of ‘Staff Cover’. Current solution required student marks to be manually removed and re-entered when splitting a session to account for staff absence.
- Automation of student registers (additions and removal from registers).
- Software had to be quick and responsive.
- Administration of in year changes to be simple and intuitive (splitting sessions, movement of resource).
- Curriculum management to be given access to view and amend timetable resources in year, reducing the impact on the central timetabling function.
- Software support had to be easy to access and quick to resolution.
- Training must be available from the software provider for higher level users.
- Product be intuitive for teaching staff to use.
- Had to be scalable with the College’s growth in provision.
These objectives were shared with the CELCAT team and together we built a project plan to tackle these objectives.
CELCAT Timetabler Live was chosen as our preferred application due to the ease of use of the product. The timetabling team and curriculum delivery managers adopted this system quickly and were able to plan the academic years’ timetables directly in the web application. CELCAT provided the initial training to our timetabling team, with the information being disseminated to the curriculum delivery managers.
CELCAT SIM was used to integrate the CELCAT products with our core Student Records System. SIM gave us the opportunity to integrate the Student Records System and to automate the ‘Staff Cover’ task, which was previously manual and cumbersome. SIM also allowed for improvement and automation with:
- CELCAT account creation, linking to staff members and security role allocation.
- Force our Student Records System to be the single source of truth and to inform CELCAT of where students are to be added to register and for what period of time.
- All grouping changes are made in our core Student Records System and passed to CELCAT on a schedule.
- Student additions to registers are date bound with the student enrolment dates, allowing for different groups of students to automatically move between sessions each term.
- Allowed for data to be pulled from multiple sources (Active Directory, multiple SQL Server Databases) to import data for Rooming, Staffing, etc. and keep it up to date.
- The ability to lock registers after they had been fully marked by learning delivery staff.
The functionality within CELCAT makes in year changes much simpler to process for our timetabling team. Splitting sessions, resource changes and room bookings are all handled with CELCAT Timetabler Live.
he implementation of CELCAT provided a significant number of benefits:
- Large reduction in manual workload required by the timetabling team with the usage of SIM and the internal controls of CELCAT.
- Software was much quicker and more responsive than our previous solution.
- Compliance with the 540 Study. Programme was much easier to manage and data could be pulled into reporting mechanisms to manage student records throughout the academic year.
- Maintenance of the software is minimal, upgrades are quick and easy to apply.
- SIM integration is seamless and requires no intervention once configured.
- Staff welcomed the software due to the intuitive design and controls.
- Support is easy to access and resolutions are quick and effective.