A rigid schedule is essential when trying to co-ordinate the movements of hundreds of teenagers with the demands of a curriculum that requires their attendance at classes. In an attempt to make this all less stultifying, some schools operate a timetable over a 6- or 7-day cycle so that Monday does not always start with double maths, or an 11-day cycle to give clear weekends every two weeks. Senior pupils are usually granted some autonomy in private study periods.

At boarding schools routine can stretch throughout the day and into the weekend (eg organised trips to the local town). This sort of routine is far more restricting than any they will encounter in adult life and will not necessarily foster the ability to use time properly themselves. Many children need to have some time to themselves, for reading, listening to music, catching up on homework – or doing nothing. A child may be better off at a school with a range of truly optional extras than where every hour is filled.