Students sitting their GCSE RE exam last week were asked, “Explain, briefly, why some people are prejudiced against Jews.” Jon Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told the BBC’s Today programme that the question was “incredibly badly worded” because it invites students to list things that are objectionable about Jews.
“This is the wrong question, an ill-conceived question, in the wrong place. It invites students to list as many things as they can think of that are objectionable about Jews, and one wonders what the model answer would be… it’s a very unhealthy thing to be asking 16-year-olds in an exam.”
I think the Board of Deputies has got the wrong end of the stick on this, but there’s an easy way to find out. If the AQA would publish the mark scheme for the question, we’d know for sure if students were being invited to “list as many things as they can think of that are objectionable about Jews”.
I do think that the argument that this question is not strictly about Judaism has some force. How much force depends on the context of the question: I wonder if the whole exam paper is available?