UAE pupils beat UK trend to achieve top grades consistent with teacher-predicted scores

Educators say UAE pupils' results were not inflated during the pandemic compared to abroad

Ibrahim Ismaeili celebrating with other pupils after receiving his A-Level results at the Gems Metropole School Motor City in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
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Pupils in the UAE have beaten a global trend of getting downgraded scores as schools in the Emirates reported a majority have got marks consistent with their predicted scores.

Pupils in the UK received lower A-level grades this year compared to the past two years when exams were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, official figures showed on Thursday.

UK media reported that top grades were down by 8.4 per cent compared to last year’s results, while A*s decreased by 4.5 per cent.

This year, A-level pupils were back in the exam halls sitting formal exams after a two-year disruption due to Covid-19.

On Thursday, Gems Education pupils celebrated outstanding A-level results that eclipsed the grades received in 2019 last summer.

Gems schools in the UAE and Qatar saw over 32 per cent of pupils achieve A* to A grades while over 86 per cent at Jumeirah College Dubai achieved A* to B grades.

At The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi, 124 year 13 pupils took the exams. 42 per cent of all grades awarded were either A* or A, with 67 per cent of grades awarded were A*- B with a 100 per cent pass rate.

Mark Leppard, headmaster at The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi, said: “The exam results overall are actually better than 2019.

"We are not seeing the trend that the UK is portraying. I think the main reason is, before our 2020-2021 scrutiny of exams, we did not see an inflation in our grades to the levels of the UK.

"If we had had that inflation, then we would see a decrease today, but we're not because our exam grades have been consistent across all the years.

"I can confidently say that our teachers' grades were as accurate as they could be compared to exam grades of 2019."

Mr Leppard said one of their pupils had been caught in a terrible mix-up at the fault of the exam board. Despite exceeding the grades needed to be accepted to his top choice university, he was denied a place because the Cambridge exam board had failed to mark one of his exams on time. Due to the delay, the university rejected him.

“The university have rejected him even though he's exceeded the grades of the offer because of a mistake by the exam board," said Mr Leppard.

“You're talking about life choices ... the exam board have admitted this mistake and they are trying to rectify it, but the university have rejected him.”

Cambridge International AS & A Level results were released on August 11, and more than 460,000 pupils – making 1.4 million entries in 147 countries sat for these exams.

Jared Nolan, director of UK schools at Taaleem, one of UAE’s major school developers, said there had been a great level of uncertainty throughout the community before results had been announced.

“Overall, we had a really, really pleasing set of results ... the great majority of Taaleem pupils have got their predicted grades. These are the results that students have worked for," he said.

"There are some schools in the UK that had shown a 40 per cent leap, and then this year, they're surprised that there's a 40 per cent downgrade."

Mr Nolan said that at their schools in the UAE, the difference between last year's grades and the exam results this year was not huge.

To pupils who may not have got the grades they had hoped for, his message was to stay calm.

“There's always a route," he said. "Don't panic, be calm. Look at clearing. Look at alternatives. I know plenty of pupils in the past who didn't get the grades that they required, or the course that they wanted, and ended up seeking an alternative course which led to a career in which they're now flourishing."

“Be objective. If you need to take a year to take stock and get some experience, there are so many options for young people these days. And it's not the end of the road, but the beginning of a very long road of a career you are walking into. Bring it back on track and reinvest some time if there's a particular goal you're aiming for.”

At Pristine Private School Dubai, 81 per cent of the grades in Mathematics were between A* to B, while in computer sciences 70 per cent of the grades ranged from A* to B.

The school had close to 45 children sit for A-level exams.

Shagufa Kidwai, principal at the school, said that while pupils in the science field had performed well, they hoped for better scores in commerce subjects such as business studies.

She said in commerce subjects, there was a slight discrepancy between the predicted grades and those achieved by pupils.

In the majority of cases she said there little difference between the predicted scores and the grade attained by pupils.

If needed, papers would be sent for re-evaluation or pupils would have a chance to resit exams later in the year.

Updated: August 19, 2022, 2:30 AM