Dear Sir Michael
I refer to your comments broadcast in a recent LBC radio phone-in concerning Ramadan, which have been picked up by a number of the national newspapers today. I would like to confirm that exams have not been moved this summer to accommodate Ramadan, nor is there an intention to move them.
Ofqual and the Joint Council of Qualifications (JCQ) liaise with a broad range of groups regarding exam timetables far in advance of exams being sat. Schedules are set to ensure that, as far as possible, no child is disadvantaged due to the timing of exams. This includes consideration of those who follow Islam.
I appreciate you were asked for your thoughts on this issue and responded as such, but I would draw your attention to JCQ’s public statement issued last week.
There has been a clear misunderstanding in some parts of the media as to how the GCSE and A level timetable is set and the impact religious events, such as Ramadan, Easter and Passover, have on it. It is important to note that the timetable for 2016 was drafted over a year ago, is published, and won’t be changing.
Each year the timetable is reviewed to ensure it meets the current needs of students, schools and colleges. This review includes a consultation and considers comments from a wide range of stakeholders including schools, colleges and religious groups. However, each year there are only minimal changes.
In such a large, complex system where there is a large number of candidates taking examinations and a diverse range of subjects available, it is not always possible to meet each and every request. Exam boards will always aim to be as fair as possible to all. If a small change can be made for any one group that does not impact negatively on most students, it will, quite rightly, be considered – but these are made before the timetable is published.
If you would like to discuss this further please do contact my office.
Dame Glenys Stacey