SHAFAQNA – GCSE and A level exams this summer have been timetabled to take the Muslim holy month of Ramadan into account.
Exam boards said pupils would be tested in subjects taken by large numbers of students, such as GCSE English and Maths, before the festival begins in early June.
Ramadan, which moves every year in relation to the Western calendar, has been gradually edging into the summer exams season in England – which runs from the end of May and throughout most of June – over the last few years. This year it covers most of the exam period.
Muslims observe Ramadan by fasting during daylight hours, causing concern among teachers that low energy levels could impact performance.
In a statement, the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents exam boards, said it was working with a “small window” but consulted on the timetable every year and considered comments from a wide range of groups.
“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,” A JCQ spokesman said.
“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.”
But Colin Hart, of the Christian Concern pressure group, criticised the plan.
“They should let things be,” he said. “How can you start changing the rules for everybody just to accommodate those particular pupils who are Muslims, who are in a minority?”