Crucial GCSE and A-level exams will be rescheduled over the next three years to avoid a clash with Ramadan, when observant Muslim pupils will be expected to fast.
Many exams will still be held, but with Ramadan due to start in early June this year some will be rescheduled. Examination boards have held talks with Muslim groups to discuss this, and will arrange for exams in the most popular subjects to be moved.
The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents examination boards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said: "Where possible, large-entry GCSE and GCE [A-level] subjects are timetabled prior to the commencement of Ramadan and consideration is given to whether they are timetabled in the morning or afternoon."
As Ramadan is set by a lunar calendar, its date changes by 11 days each year. In 2016 it is scheduled to run from June 7th to July 5th, overlapping with the traditional summer exam season in May and June. Ramadan will also fall during peak periods in the exam season for the next two years, being forecast to begin on May 27th in 2017 and May 16th in 2018.
Exam boards have said they are able to schedule big examinations such as GCSE English and maths either before or after Ramadan. Some exams will still, however, need to be held during the holy month.
Anne Longfield, the government’s children’s commissioner for England, has applauded the move.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels