Exam chiefs have brought forward GCSE and A-level papers sat by the largest number of students to avoid them clashing with Ramadan, it has emerged.
The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which oversees the examinaton timetables for both GCSEs and A-levels, said it tried to accommodate for the religious festival when scheduling the exams.
The month-long festival of Ramadan this year falls between the start of June and July, during which observant Muslim students will fast from dawn to sunrise.
A JCQ spokesperson said it looked to schedule some of the biggest exams outside of the religious period.
“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 any one group,” the council said.
“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.
“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.”
The organisation issued a statement after the children’s commissioner told a panel of MPs this morning that she understood “there were discussions around arrangements for delaying the exam timetable” this year to accommodate Ramadan.
Giving evidence to the Commons education select committee Anne Longfield said she welcomed the talks.
“It’s really important this takes place and important we understand the individual children in this. Clearly there needs to be rigour around the examinations themselves, but I welcome the discussion and would welcome a solution.
Headteachers are believed to be concerned about how this might affect students during their exams, and have been in discussions with Muslim faith groups to find the best solution to the situation.
The Association of School and College Leaders said it was meeting faith groups to gather advice for its members.