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Children’s Commissioner: Exams could be delayed by Ramadan



Exams could be delayed to fit around the Ramadan period this year, children’s commissioner Anne Longfield has said.

Ms Longfield told the education select committee that discussions were taking place around “delaying the exam timetable” to fit with the Muslim tradition.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and falls at a different time on the Gregorian calendar each year.

This year, the period of fasting, prayer, charitable giving and recitation of the Qur’an will fall between June 6 and July 5, which is traditionally when many of the summer GCSE and A level exams take place in English schools.

Ms Longfield was today pressed by Conservative MP Suella Fernandes on how Muslim pupils could be accommodated.

Asking for Ms Longfield’s view on the situation, Ms Fernandes said: “Ramadan is due to fall during the exam period, and the Association of School and College Leaders is planning to work with Muslim faith leaders to try to find a solution.”

In response, the children’s commissioner said that, although she was “not aware of the details”, her understanding was that there were “discussions around arrangements around delaying the exam timetable”.

A spokesperson for the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents seven exam boards, including the four which deliver GCSEs, said that where possible, large-entry GCSE and A level subject exams had been timetabled to take place before the commencement of Ramadan.

He said consideration was also given to whether they are timetabled in the morning or afternoon.

The spokesperson also said boards consulted on their provisional examination timetable every year and considered comments “from a wide range of stakeholders including religious groups, schools and colleges”.

He added: “The small window in which examinations can be taken, the large number of candidates taking examinations and the diverse range of subjects available to candidates, places significant limitations on the changes that can be accommodated for any one group.

“However, JCQ meets the needs of various groups as far as possible. JCQ and the qualifications regulator Ofqual have previously met with Muslim groups to discuss the timetabling of examinations in light of Ramadan moving into the examination period.”



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9 Comments

  1. Anyone who has any knowledge of GCSE and A level exams knows that it would be impossible to move the exams outside the June period.

    Think of the delay to the results and the consequences for students starting College or University. All 6th form and University starting dates would have to be delayed.

    Exam timetables are published years in advance of the date that the exams take place. The planning involved is immense.

    This suggestion is ludicrous and political correctness gone mad. It will lead to bad feeling in the Muslim community when it is rejected – it will be claimed that the Children’s Commissioner has supported the idea and islamophobes have rejected it.

  2. There is plenty of advice on the web about how to cope with fasting and with exams eg the importance of being properly hydrated. The guidance allows for people who feel unwell during fasting to break the fast but they must make up for the break at a later date.
    Rather than moving exams which are already fixed, it would be better to give advice to Muslim pupils on how to cope while also giving guidance to schools about how to support fasting pupils eg http://www.wakefield.gov.uk/Lists/IpointArticles/Attachments/416/guidance%20ramadan%202015%20revised.pdf

  3. Ferha syed

    That’s great and I know how hard it will be for those students but in islam, in the same way that you should continue with your daily duties when fasting….you need to continue with exams when fasting. This is life. I don’t think any muslima expect exam dates to be changed.

  4. As a Muslim I have not had a problem with sitting exams whilst fasting and this is not an issue that would be of concern to devout muslims, and so I therefore do not consider it necessary for the exam timetable to be changed to accomodate me, I fear this will just give more fuel to right wing bigots and further stigmatise Muslims in Britain.

  5. Not this year. Next year. They don’t schedule 2016 exams in 2016. Ramadan is very early next year and it would be sensible to push the exams that fall early in May back into June to accommodate. This is the discussion she’s referring to. This headline is a simple journalistic mistake and I can’t believe how widely the national press have reported the mistake without checking it.