SCHOOL exams could be rescheduled this summer to help Muslim pupils fasting for Ramadan, The Sun reports. GCSEs and A-levels may be taken earlier in the day when students are the least hungry or moved forward to the beginning of the exam period in May.
However, extending the exam period or bringing it forward has been ruled out. Ramadan has been gradually moving into the summer exams season in England – which runs from the end of May and most of June – over the last few years. This year it will fall between June 6 and July 5, which coincides when many of the summer exams take place.
During the holy month, many Muslims fast during daylight hours, pray more and attend special services at mosques. In a statement, the Joint Council for Qualifications – which represents exam boards, said the impact of fasting would be lessened if exams were taken in the morning.
A spokesman said: “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 anyone group.
“However, JCQ meets the needs of various groups as far as possible… Where possible, large entry GCSE and GCE (A-level) subjects are timetabled prior to the commencement of Ramadan and consideration given to whether they are timetabled in the morning or afternoon.”
The statement came after the new Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield said she understood there were discussions under way around delaying the timetable. But this claim has been denied by exam boards. Malcom Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said his group was meeting with Muslim faith leaders to discuss Ramadan.
He added: “The guidance will be non-prescriptive and will not advise families or students on how they should approach the question of fasting during Ramadan which we agree is a matter for the individuals concerned along with parents, carers and faith leaders.
“School and college leaders are very keen to work with communities to ensure young people are able to observe Ramadan without any detrimental impact on their examinations.”