Coronavirus: UAE pupils braced for summer exam delays as Covid-19 impacts school timetable

GCSEs, A-levels and Indian curriculum exams are set to be pushed back as the effects of the pandemic continue to be keenly felt

Latest: UAE pupils will sit A-level and GCSE exams in 2021, UK education minister pledges

UAE pupils sitting summer exams are facing delays as education boards adapt to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Education authorities in the UK confirmed last week that A-level and GCSE exams will go ahead but will start weeks later than previously scheduled.

Last year, several major school-leaving exams had to be cancelled as Covid-19 cases surged globally.

A-levels and GCSE examinations

Thousands of pupils at British schools in the Emirates will sit UK board examinations, for both GCSEs and A-levels, in 2021.

We are conscious of the possibility that there may well be further disruption to examinations this year

The tests will primarily be held between June 7 and July 2 – weeks later than in previous years – to allow pupils more time to plan for exams.

More than 109,000 pupils in Dubai attend British curriculum schools.

Brendon Fulton, principal at Dubai British School Jumeirah Park, said further disruption was possible owing to the pandemic.

"The UK government announced that GCSE and A-level exams will definitely be going ahead, however they will be slightly delayed by a few weeks to give schools more time to bridge any gaps that may have appeared during school closures," he said.

"As a school we are therefore continuing to prepare our students for the rigours of formal end-of-phase examinations.

"Given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the impact of Covid-19 on formal institutions and processes, we are certainly conscious of the possibility that there may well be further disruption to examinations this year."

Pearson Edexcel, a UK qualification board, informed pupils it was working closely with the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation, to finalise what exams would look like in 2021.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 29 MAY 2018. Brendon Fulton, The Principal of Dubai British School in Emirates Hills. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Anam Rizvi. Section: National.

It said that while most exams would be held between June and July, a GCSE maths exam and a GCSE English exam would be held before the May half-term to ease a hectic schedule for pupils.

"We are currently reviewing the summer 2021 assessment dates for our International qualifications and will confirm details on this shortly," the board said.

International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate Organisation told The National that exams in November 2020 and from April 29 to May 21 will go ahead on schedule.

The organisation set up a Covid-19 response team to ensure the needs of learners are met.

The board is, however, considering altering the length of exams and will keep schools updated on its plans.

Indian curriculum examinations

Heads of Indian schools in the UAE said Indian School Certificate and Indian Certificate of Secondary Education exams will be held this year, but could be delayed by a few days or even months.

About 80,000 pupils in Dubai attend Indian schools.

"Exams are usually held in February and March but maybe delayed depending on the Covid-19 outbreak in India," said Unni Jose, senior school supervisor at Ambassador School in Dubai.

"The board might work towards a new formula for assessment," he said.

He said there would be an assessment. "We are prepared at our end but are waiting for exact clarity from the board."

Ambassador School will hold in-person pre-board exams in November and January.

If exams are held at schools in India, these would also take place at Indian schools abroad.

Indian schools in the Emirates that follow the Central Board of Secondary Education said they have not received confirmation about whether exams will go ahead in February and March.

Indian media reported that exams may be pushed back to May 2021, but this has not yet been confirmed

CBSE schools in the UAE are preparing for mock exams in January 2021.