UAE schools achieve record GCSE results

Some schools in the Emirates are reporting higher averages than previous years

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Schools in the UAE have achieved record GCSE results, with many pupils scoring straight nines.

In the UK, overall results are expected to be lower than they were in the past two years, when grades were completely based on teacher assessments, but above the average results from 2019.

This year was the first time since 2019 that pupils sat GCSE exams, because of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

UAE schools reported higher averages than in past years with some schools saying pupils had performed better than ever.

Pupils at British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi celebrated their best exam results yet. Of 127 pupils and 1,225 entries, 27 per cent received a grade 9 compared with 26 per cent in 2021, and 46 per cent were graded 9-8 compared with 43 per cent last year.

The school reported a 100 per cent pass rate and said 62 per cent of grades were between 9-7 equivalent to A* or A.

Headmaster Mark Leppard said: "I am almost lost for words with pride for our Year 11 cohort, that they have surpassed the results of previous years.

"These grades show a continuous improvement, not only over the Teacher Assessed Grades of the last two years, but also over our pre-Covid cohorts.”

At Brighton College Dubai pupils collectively achieved 26 per cent grade 9 and 50 per cent of grades were 9 to 8 (A*).

Brighton College Al Ain pupils continued to perform at a high level across all examinations this year.

The school pupils celebrated excellent GCSE results, with an even higher percentage of grade 9s being awarded to pupils compared with the last time GCSE examinations were taken in-person, in 2019.

At the Al Ain campus, almost 60 per cent of entries were awarded 7-9. Of these, 63 per cent were from sciences and 77 per cent from humanities.

A total of 3,120 Gems pupils from 22 schools in the UAE and Qatar sat nearly 22,700 GCSEs and 42 per cent of pupils achieved grades between 7 and 9, or A and A*.

Jumeirah College Dubai had 55 pupils achieve grades between 8 (A*) and 9 and 73 per cent of all grades were at between 7 and 9, with 89 per cent of pupils receiving at least one grade of 8 or 9.

“Our pupils are surpassing the UK national average and every single one of them, regardless of their grades, should be proud of their achievements," said Dino Varkey, group chief executive officer of Gems Education.

The GCSE grading system in England moved from letters to numbers in 2018.

Pupils at Gems Wellington International School celebrate their excellent GCSE results. Photo: Gems Education

At Dubai British School Emirates Hills, 73 pupils sat GCSE exams and 40 per cent achieved a grade of A* this year, compared with 38 per cent last year.

Also, 64 per cent secured an A or A* compared with 58 per cent last year.

The school recorded a 97 per cent pass rate.

“Today is one of those special milestones where they are justly rewarded for their extraordinary efforts and can take pride in what they have achieved," said principal Sarah Reynolds.

"With 64 per cent of grades awarded at 9 to 7 or equivalent and some pupils achieving grade 9 across their curriculum, these results are exceptional."

David Potts, head of secondary at the school, said the results this year were a further improvement on 2019 and "even on last year when grades were internally determined as a result of the pandemic".

"Our pupils have demonstrated exceptional perseverance to maintain strong progress throughout these past two difficult years and they now have GCSE results which will propel them towards extraordinary academic and professional futures full of opportunity and possibility," he said.

Last year, the number of GCSE pupils awarded top grades rose to a high after exams were cancelled for a second year in a row and pupils were handed teacher-assessed results.

Exams were marked more leniently this year and pupils needed fewer marks to achieve a grade, while a pupil close to the grade boundary was likely to be marked up to the higher one.

“The last three years have been extremely challenging for all of us but especially for our pupils, who have been working towards public examinations," said Matthew Burfield, vice president of education at Gems Education.

“We are all aware of the situation faced by students in 2020 and 2021 who were awarded grades based on teacher and centre-assessed grades.

"In 2022, we realised that students were going back into the exam halls and this would be a daunting thought for all of them.

“Our IGCSE/GCSE results, which have just been published, show that all the hard work and determination was worthwhile.

"To emerge from the situation we faced ― adjusting to remote learning, Covid restrictions, and the overwhelming impact that the pandemic had on families and staff ― with such an amazing set of results, is really special.”

UAE pupils received their A-level results last week - in pictures

Updated: August 25, 2022, 9:08 AM