Plans to Overhaul GCSE Timetable to Avoid Clash with Ramadan

Nicola Fifield, Telegraph (London), April 6, 2014

Proposals to bring forward GCSE and A-level examinations so Muslim pupils aren’t fasting for Ramadan during the exam season are to be debated at an education conference this month.

According to the Mail On Sunday, another option to be discussed at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Union (ATL) conference is holding exams in the morning when fasting pupils are less likely to be hungry.

It has also been suggested that Muslim students who feel their performance has been affected by their fasting could be eligible for extra marks due to ‘extenuating circumstances’.

The problem has arisen because Ramadan, a holy period in the Islamic calendar requiring Muslims to fast during daylight hours, will fall progressively earlier in the summer from next year–eventually clashing with the May-June exam season in 2016.

However, Chris McGovern, a former head teacher and spokesman for the Campaign for Real Education, said he would be against making changes to the exam timetable for the benefit of Muslim pupils.

Instead, he called on Islamic leaders to allow students sitting exams to be exempt from fasting during Ramadan.

He said: “The example I always give is Eric Liddell refusing to compete on a Sunday at the Paris Olympics in 1924 because of his strong Christian faith.

“The organisers weren’t prepared to rearrange the Olympic timetable just for him and in the same way you couldn’t expect the exam boards to change the timetable just for Muslim pupils.

“It’s not about not respecting any particular religion, it’s about being fair to all pupils.

“For example, if you move an English exam to Tuesday morning because that better suits someone who is fasting, then that might disadvantage a non-Muslim pupil who could then find themselves with two exams in one day rather than one.

“If one religious group is given particular consideration, it could cause resentment and could potentially be very divisive. Exams are a secular thing and they should stay that way.

“I think students who are Muslims should take guidance from their leaders regarding the requirements of Ramadan. My understanding is that exemptions are possible.”

Barry Lingard, who is on the ATL executive committee, supports the bid to bring forward the exam season.

He said: “The consequences are quite huge, particularly with the return to three-hour exams at the end of the course in the summer.

“If some of the big vital exams like English and maths could be rescheduled for before Ramadan kicks in, that would certainly be supported by the majority of teachers.”

Also affected by the clash of dates will be Muslim undergraduates at universities–and the government-funded Equality Challenge Unit, which advises higher education, is supporting a change to the exam timetable.

A spokesman said: “Institutions should be prepared to consider significant adjustments to their exam schedules and think creatively about assessment methods in order to eliminate disadvantage to particular groups.”

Muslim students at the University of East Anglia in Norwich have already been told that if they feel that fasting has affected their performance in exams then this should be submitted as an “extenuating circumstance”.

Ofqual, the exam watchdog, and the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents the main three exam boards, have held meetings with Muslim groups to discuss the issue.

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  • Any suggestion that England should not be a Muslim country?


  • sbuffalonative

    The solution to this is simple. All someone in power has to do is say, ‘this is our country. We will run our country by our standards and our traditions. If you don’t like it, you are free to leave’.

    I really don’t understand why any western leader can’t make this simple statement.

    • Einsatzgrenadier

      Western leaders have long ago abandoned nationalism and patriotism as the supposed relics of a bygone age. These days, they only care about money and power. Their attitude is: “It doesn’t matter where the foreigners come from, as long as they’re warm bodies who open up bank accounts, purchase real estate and supply us with an endless stream of cheap labor.”

      Many of these western leaders are multicultural extremists who enjoy smearing 3rd world feces in the faces of the old white establishment, in addition to enjoying the enormous wealth and power that comes with lording themselves over their helpless constituents.

    • So CAL Snowman

      Because of World War 2 and the NSDAP.

    • Who Me?

      Hey Muzzie, too bad, so sad. All “religion” involves some sort of sacrifice, maybe this is yours. Exams will be held as scheduled. Either you take them at the appointed time, or you don’t take them. Credit will be given for how well you do on the test and for no other extenuating circumstances. It is what it is. Deal with it.

      • me

        Where’s the accommodation for Satan worshippers? Why isn’t there a day when you can sacrifice a baby on campus? I think this is a double standard that has to end…(sarc.)

  • Look, the Brits have not reacted strongly to the beheading of a soldier in London, rapes and harassment of women, muzzie pedophile rings, and a host of other indignities heaped on them. Why wouldn’t they accomodate the muzzie test takers. If and until a strong leader appears in Britain in response to the people’s disgust with muslim ways, then more and more of these kinds of stories will appear, until it’s the Brits begging the muzzies to accomodate them.

  • Mrfinoni

    Sundown to sun up! anyone ever take a night course!!! They can write their exams at 8pm in the evening…. or just get up and have a solid breakfast at 6am. a good breakfast will last till noon!!!! No Problem!!! and when you hire them for your business inform your customers and clients that all projects and orders will be late during Ramadan.

    • Ella

      I agree about the big breakfast! I’m sure you can find a Denny’s or some 24 hour restaurant in a college town. Or, can they get up before sunrise? Try a large late night meal so one can skip a breakfast comfortably. This is NOT about problem-solving but forcing change onto the local people.

  • AngloWelsh

    Simple solution: Remove all Muslims and Islam from Western countries. Then, in their own countries, they can do as they see fit, and we can live our lives, and educate our children, according to our own traditions. The West and Islam are not compatible.

  • MekongDelta69

    I was posting on AmRen during exams.

    Do I get extra credit?

    • me

      Yes! You should definitely get extra credit for that! A+

  • me

    ‘Great’ Britain is suffering a slow and painful suicide by the ‘death of a thousand cuts’. They should just nuke themselves and get it over with. It would be much less painful and more humane.