Coronavirus Pandemic

Coronavirus: No field trips, less group work in Dubai schools’ new-normal syllabi

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on November 3, 2020

Internal assessments — like tests, projects, presentations and essays — are being given extra importance this academic year, school heads explained.

Schools in Dubai have been making amendments to their syllabi, incorporating the new requirements of their affiliated boards and trimming portions related to outdoor activities and group work.

Internal assessments — like tests, projects, presentations and essays — are being given extra importance this academic year, school heads explained.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Andreas Swoboda, principal of Uptown International School, said: “Our curricula have been adapted to suit the style of teaching and the resulting needs of our learners given the current requirement for socially distanced learning.”

Owing to Covid-19’s impact on teaching and learning in many countries, the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IB) has published amended guidelines for the next IBDP exams. Requirements in several subjects have been reduced, Swoboda said.

Brendon Fulton, principal of Dubai British School Jumeirah Park, also noted a number of changes.

“Almost all GCSE and A-Level subjects have had changes from the UK exam boards this year. For some, there is a reduction in content, while others have modified the specification to remove elements such as the geography field trip.”

In terms of exams, some Dubai schools are still administering tests on-site, but students on distance learning have the option to complete them from home.

“The UK government has recently clarified that they don’t expect to be considering external exams taking place from within people’s homes. Although not fully published and released yet, the GCSE and A-Level exams are likely to be held two weeks later than usual, in June 2021,” Fulton said.

Indian curriculum schools

For schools affiliated with Indian boards, minimal syllabus changes have been introduced to adapt to the distance learning set-up.

Dr Brian Gray, principal of Springdales School Dubai, said: “The time table remains the same. Slight changes in syllabus have been done, keeping in mind the online situation. For example, practical computer topics have been trimmed...The syllabus has been reduced to allow an in-depth study of the content.”

At Credence High School, students are also evaluated based on portfolios, course-embedded assignments, projects, peer review of tasks and performance on case studies, according to its principal Deepika Thapar Singh.

Changes also apply to administering exams remotely. “Online testing involves changes in the way exams are scheduled, designed, conducted, monitored and evaluated. Students have the flexibility of typing their answers or uploading handwritten answers,” said Thapar.

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