Covid-19: Students, parents express concern as GCSE, A-level exams cancelled

GCSE, A-level exams , UAE, schools, Wuhan, Covid-19, health, China, warning,

Schools have assured parents and students that a solution would be provided for this situation.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Thu 19 Mar 2020, 1:44 PM

Last updated: Thu 19 Mar 2020, 7:29 PM

Students, parents of British curriculum schools in the UAE have expressed concern following the UK government's announcement that upcoming General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and A-level examinations have been cancelled.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced late Wednesday, "exams will not take place as planned in May and June."
UK's Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said schools in England will close from Friday until further notice for all pupils except children of key workers and the most vulnerable.
Students in British curriculum schools in the UAE are worried this decision would impact their admission to varsities in the UK and the US, as they will be granted admission on the basis of predicted grades. However, students have until August 31 to meet the academic conditions of their offers from Universities.
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According to Cambridge Assessment, the international not-for-profit body that provides assessment to over 170 countries said, "The June 2020 exam series time table is global and we work in over 160 countries. It is not possible for us to make changes at short notice because timetabling across many different countries are so complex.
"Cambridge International exams - including Cambridge IGCSE, Cambridge O Level, Cambridge International AS & A Level, Cambridge AICE Diploma - are separate from the exams mentioned by the UK government today. Cambridge International exams will go ahead outside the UK in countries where schools are open or exams can be held safely," it said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Clare Marchant, the chief executive of Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the UK-based organisation responsible for the application process for British universities, said on Twitter, "Flexibility within the admission process will be enhanced and extended to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and the announcement that there will be no exams this year."
Schools react

In the UAE, schools have assured parents and students that a solution would be provided for this situation.
Alan Williamson, Chief Executive Officer at the Taaleem group of schools told Khaleej Times, "The UK Education Secretary has confirmed that there will be no SATs, GCSE or A-Level exams this year but has yet to give details about how students will be graded only to say that "their path to work, sixth form or the university will not be impeded"."
He added, "We are awaiting further information about how GCSE and A-Levels students will be graded without any exams.  The most likely option is that students will be given a predicted grade based on their past performance. In this case, all students would still be required to complete their courses through distance learning with their current school, as the schools will be asked to validate this with their predicted grades."
Williamson assured parents and students of the Taaleem family of schools, "Our outstanding teachers are well prepared for this eventuality and able to submit grades to the exam boards if the situation requires this action."
"At GEMS Education, our advice to all families and students is to remain calm, to keep positive, and to keep on learning. There has been a very high- level announcement from the UK Prime Minister regarding GCSEs and A levels. We are now working with examining boards to establish what this means for our students," said Jodh Dhesi, Deputy Chief Education Officer, GEMS Education told Khaleej Times.
Dhesi added, "Each examining board will no doubt be working with governments to make sure that processes are in place to suit the context. We all have the same goal at heart: to ensure that students' efforts and learning are recognised. We are confident that they will be."
David Cook, the headmaster at Repton School in Dubai has assured parents, "In light of UK PM announcement today about exams in the UK, we will clarify the impact on International GCSEs and IB exams and report back."

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