Vegetarian student disqualified from GCSE paper for 'obscene racial comments' after she criticised halal meat

Harriet Brewis
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Vegetarian student disqualified from GCSE paper for 'obscene racial comments' after she criticised halal meat

A student was disqualified from her GCSE exam after she was accused of making “obscene racial comments” by criticising halal meat.

Abigail Ward, 16, a strict vegetarian, wrote during a Religious Studies exam in June that she found the idea of halal meat "absolutely disgusting".

The exam board OCR later disqualified Miss Ward from the exam, accusing her of making "obscene racial comments".

The decision was only overturned when her school, Gildredge House in Eastbourne, appealed the decision, insisting Miss Ward had been expressing her distaste for halal butchers and was not making any comment about Muslims.

The school added that no other comments made in the paper could be construed as racist.

The exam board upheld the appeal and later apologised for the “upset and stress” they caused Miss Ward, the Telegraph reported.

It also accepted that the board's original letter "describing the frequency and severity of the comments" was "inaccurate".

Miss Ward’s mother Layla, a 36-year-old nurse, said she believed the misunderstanding was probably down to an “over-zealous, over-righteous” examiner.

She told the paper: “Abbey is an animal lover and a very strict vegetarian.

“Philosophy is all about debating and getting your opinion out. I can’t believe how pathetic it is."

In a statement, OCR said: "OCR takes all incidence of suspected offensive material against a religious group in exams very seriously and must apply rules which are set out for all exam boards in such cases.

"We accept that initially we did not reach the right conclusion and were too harsh."