Now JCQ confirms summer exams will not be fitted around Ramadan

The Guardian is reporting that, despite widespread reports suggesting the opposite yesterday, the JCQ is now saying this summer’s timetable for GCSE and A-levels is fixed and will not be changed to further accommodate Muslim pupils.

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), which represents the major exam agencies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said there had been a “clear misunderstanding in some parts of the media” over the 2016 exam schedule after it announced that the timetable had taken Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, into account.

In a strongly worded statement the council said the timing of Ramadan had been considered in the same way as other events – such as the Queen’s diamond jubilee in June 2012 – and that the timetable was not open to change.

Some media outlets, including the Daily MailSun and Daily Telegraph, suggested on Wednesday that the timetable was still in flux as a result of the discussions held between the exam boards, the exam regulator Ofqual and Islamic leaders, which appears to have raised concerns that crucial exam dates could change.

The reports followed comments by the children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, that discussions were under way over “delaying the exam timetable”.

But the JCQ said: “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…

More at: Summer exams will not be fitted around Ramadan, confirm boards


Read the statement from JCQ in full at: JCQ Statement – Exam Timetables


I did note yesterday that, despite reading multiple reports on the matter, it was not clear if this was still being discussed or something that had already been decided where major, but not all, clashes would be avoided. 

That said, I find it rather odd for the Guardian to single out the Mail, Sun and Telegraph for their reporting when they themselves ran this story: Popular exams in UK to be rescheduled to avoid Ramadan and seemed to take exactly the same line, with exactly the same quotes, as the others.

Meanwhile, we do now have this in the Telegraph: Pressure mounts to cancel exams on day of Jewish festival

Your thoughts on where we are now after all this?

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Categories: Policy and Secondary.


  1. SchoolsImprove

    Bedtonman All the papers including the Guardian took the same line with the same JCQ quotes. Disingenuous of them to now to point finger

  2. SchoolsImprove

    Bedtonman ha – fair enough – but actually seems like terrible media management by JCQ issuing very unclear comments first time round

  3. SchoolsImprove

    Bedtonman … and then bizarre for Guardian to specifically name right wing papers when they did exactly the same thing

  4. SchoolsImprove

    Bedtonman I read multiple reports y/day because I couldn’t understand exactly what was supposed to be happening but none was clear

  5. Bedtonman

    miss_mcinerney SchoolsImprove FCDWhittaker I agree with him entirely and being in a minority I welcomed the decision

  6. irvingphil

    SchoolsImprove Bedtonman BBC was at fault. They speculated with “could mean” which Mail then ran with as fact. Shambolic day’s “journalism

  7. SchoolsImprove

    miss_mcinerney Bedtonman FCDWhittaker Thanks Laura – that’s the missing link – I couldn’t work out where the original quotes came from

  8. SchoolsImprove

    irvingphil Bedtonman Not sure – the fact appears to be that they have been moved, to some degree, but that the extent was already agreed

  9. irvingphil

    SchoolsImprove Bedtonman moved implies they already had a slot. They’re scheduled with various interests taken into account in first place

  10. irvingphil

    SchoolsImprove Bedtonman miss_mcinerney as in, Ramadan is earlier next year than this. Total amateur night from the papers/BBC/NS.

  11. irvingphil

    SchoolsImprove Bedtonman miss_mcinerney this year’s discussions are for NEXT year’s exams. Not 2016 series.

  12. SchoolsImprove

    irvingphil Bedtonman miss_mcinerney Apologies – original was by Freddie Whittaker in Schools Week but explained by him in New Stateman

  13. irvingphil

    SchoolsImprove Bedtonman miss_mcinerney in fact, more closely you read the article, more it sounds like no one knows what they’re doing.

  14. miss_mcinerney

    irvingphil SchoolsImprove Bedtonman He reported what the children’s commissioner said (which turned out to be wrong) & what JCQ said…

  15. My understanding based on conflicting reports was that the Children’s Commissioner was suggesting moving exams this year (2015) to accommodate Ramadam.  But the exam timetablers had already taken it into account by scheduling high entry exams earlier.  Hence I voted ‘No’ in the poll about whether exams should be moved to accommodate Ramandam as the exam boards appeared to have already done so.  This was because I thought moving dates at this late stage would be disruptive.
    Now it appears they were discussing 2016 (I think – I’m getting confused here).  In which case the exam timetablers will take it into account along with other significant dates which might impact on exams.

  16. miss_mcinerney

    irvingphil SchoolsImprove Bedtonman Yeah, but commissioner was asked about this year. We did a clearer follow up yest morning.

  17. One concern that nobody’s mentioned is the Muslim students who decides not to comply with the duty to fast.  I’ve read advice which suggests that if Muslim parents advise their children not to fast during exams the children should disobey their parents and follow religious requirements.  
    This suggests that some Muslim parents are being pragmatic or are questioning the mandatory requirement to fast.  The rules for fasting were laid down over a thousand years ago when there were no exams and Muslims did not live as far north as many do now.  The hours of daylight are longer in summer in the north meaning fasting is more arduous.  
    Yet a Muslim pupil deciding not to fast during exams could find themselves under pressure to do so.  Perhaps modernising Muslim clerics could advise such pupils to make reparation later on either by fasting at a later date or by doing charitable works.

  18. irvingphil

    miss_mcinerney SchoolsImprove Bedtonman I’m reading between the lines but sounds like discussion=this year exams=next year.

  19. irvingphil

    miss_mcinerney SchoolsImprove Bedtonman delay makes sense for next year, which comm. said; bring forward for this, which journos said.

  20. irvingphil

    miss_mcinerney SchoolsImprove Bedtonman sure, but the two were contradictory. Minor issue for SW but I’m amazed nobody has pointed it out

  21. irvingphil

    miss_mcinerney SchoolsImprove Bedtonman NB (sorry about all tweets) there’s no link to clarification on initial article; I’d like to read

  22. Busy Mum

    Bedtonman miss_mcinerney SchoolsImprove FCDWhittaker Whittaker preaches the virtues of inclusivity but dismisses anybody who does not agree with him as small-minded and as holding silly opinions. He clearly wishes to exclude many people from the debate.

  23. I said I was confused.  Forgot we were now in 2016.  Unless, of course, 2015 referred to academic year 2015/16, and 2016 referred to 2016/17 in which case….    I give up.

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