25/05/2012 06:27 BST | Updated 25/05/2012 07:28 BST

'Why Do Some People Hate Jews?', Asks Religious Studies GCSE Exam Question

One of Britain’s biggest exam boards has been criticised for asking GCSE pupils to "Explain briefly why some people are prejudiced against Jews".

Around 1,000 pupils are thought to have sat the Religious Studies exam, set by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), last week.

Education Secretary Michael Gove told The Jewish Chronicle: “To suggest that anti-Semitism can ever be explained, rather than condemned, is insensitive and, frankly, bizarre. AQA needs to explain how and why this question was included in an exam paper.”

He added it was: "The duty of politicians to fight prejudice, and with antisemitism on the rise we need to be especially vigilant”.

However Clive Lawton, a former A-level chief examiner for religious studies for another exam board, said: “I do understand why people might react negatively to the question, but it is a legitimate one.

“Part of the syllabus is that children must study the causes and origins of prejudice against Jews.”

Today the AQA posted a response to the criticism on its website. It said: "The question concerned acknowledges that some people are prejudiced, but we did not intend to imply in any way that prejudice is justified.

"However, we are obviously very concerned that this question has caused offence as this was absolutely not our intention.

"We consult widely with faith schools and community leaders and appreciate that prejudice is a complex and sensitive area.

"The relevant part of the syllabus for this GCSE covers prejudice and discrimination with reference to race, religion and the Jewish experience of persecution. The paper concerned is focused on Judaism."

A spokesman for Ofqual, which regulates exams, told Huffington Post UK: “We are aware of concerns about the wording of a question about Judaism in an AQA Religious Studies GCSE.

"We are checking the facts and the context of the question with the exam board. When we have fully considered the details we will take appropriate follow up action if necessary.”