GCSE and A-level exams to accommodate Ramadan


Exam boards have announced that of some exams will be rescheduled to take avoid a clash with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

This year, Ramadan falls between June 6 and July 5, which overlaps with a significant proportion of exams, namely Math and English.

Muslims observe Ramadan by fasting during daylight hours, causing concern among teachers that low energy levels could impact performance.

The consideration will mean that subjects taken by large numbers of students, such as GCSE English and Maths could take place before the period begins.

Michael Turner, director general of Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents exam boards, said it consulted on the provisional examination timetable every year and considered comments from a wide range of stakeholders including religious groups, schools and colleges.

"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," he said.

"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.

"Where possible, large-entry GCSE and GCE subjects are timetabled prior to the commencement of Ramadan and consideration given to whether they are timetabled in the morning or afternoon."

This could mean that subjects taken by large numbers of students, such as GCSE English and maths, may be timetabled early in the exams season before Ramadan, or taken at a time of day to lessen the effect on students who might be fasting.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) remain committed to reaching a decision that allows Muslim students “to observe Ramadan without any detrimental impact on their examinations".

ASCL deputy general secretary Malcolm Trobe said: "ASCL is meeting with Muslim faith leaders to discuss this year's Ramadan and plans to issue guidance for schools and colleges ahead of the summer exams season.

"The guidance will be non-prescriptive and will not advise families or students on how they should address the question of fasting during Ramadan, which we agree is a matter for the individuals concerned along with parents, carers and faith leaders."