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UAE schools: IGCSE, A-level exams officially cancelled

Dubai - UK-curriculum schools in the UAE are working closely with exam regulators on the next steps that must be taken.

By Nandini Sircar

Published: Thu 28 Jan 2021, 6:25 PM

Last updated: Thu 28 Jan 2021, 6:45 PM

It’s official: IGCSE and A-level exams have been cancelled, a UK board announced today, replacing the exams with teacher-assessed grades (TAGs).

The announcement was made by OxfordAQA, one of the largest UK-curriculum examination boards.

Principals of UK-curriculum schools in Dubai had earlier anticipated that these exams would likely be reviewed or cancelled as they awaited official instructions from the exam regulator.

The cancellation of exams comes after the UK entered its third national lockdown since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, from January 4 until February 15, with schools and colleges closed in many parts of the UK.

Explaining the decision, OxfordAQA’s managing director Sadie Visick said: “We’ve been listening carefully to the views of teachers, parents and students around the world. Many schools have told us that a consistent approach would mean that no student in any school or country would be disadvantaged, and assessing all students in the same way is the only way to be confident grades are comparable and fair.”

They concluded that the fairest option would be to switch instead to the teacher-assessed grades.

Teachers had previously feared that holding the exams would create an uneven playing field between international students and those based in England where the pandemic situation is still worrying. They raised that going ahead with exams amid coronavirus restrictions could pose a health risk.

Different school groups in Dubai are working closely with the international exam boards on the next steps that have to be taken.

A GEMS Education spokesperson said: “We are aware of today’s decision by OxfordAQA to cancel international GCSE and A-level exams, and our schools will be offering guidance and assistance to all students who are affected by this decision. In addition, we continue to be in close, regular contact with all relevant exam boards to ensure our students and their parents are well informed and fully supported as this situation develops.”

Brendon Fulton, principal of Dubai British School, Jumeirah Park, added: “With the support of the exam boards, our schools will work towards honest and fair grades that reflect the relative effort of each of our students. We sincerely hope that the exam boards provide the forthcoming guidance as soon as possible and commit to sticking to such guidance. We are waiting for the exact details of the process, but we expect that schools will once again provide assessment grades for students in the absence of formal exams.”

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