British schoolchildren to take exams early due to Ramadan

British schoolchildren to take exams early due to Ramadan
UK exam boards announce that school examinations will be timetabled with consideration for Muslim students observing Ramadan.
2 min read
07 January, 2016
UK school exams will be scheduled considering fasting hours during Ramadan [AFP]
British school exams are to be timetabled in order not to disadvantage Muslim students observing Ramadan, testing boards said on Wednesday.

GCSEs, taken by 16-year-olds, and A-Levels, taken by 18-year-olds, in core subjects such as English and mathematics could be set for the beginning of the exam season, before the start of Ramadan, which begins this year in early June.

Observant Muslim students are expected to fast during daylight hours in the holy month, which means up to 16 hours without food during Britain's May-June exam season.

The Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents exam boards, said it would meet "the needs of various groups as far as possible".

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

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers trade union, said the issue had been up for recent debate.

"As educators, we want all children to be able to achieve their best in exams that are so crucial to their future," she said.

"We shall continue to raise awareness of best practice and how education staff can support students during Ramadan."

Reaction to the news was mixed, with some applauding the consideration for minority students, with others complaining that "multiculturalism had gone too far".