Joy for GCSE pupils in the UAE as faith is placed in judgement of teachers

Pupils have been awarded grades based on teacher predictions after sharp criticism over the handling of A Level results

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 20, 2020.  
STORY BRIEF:  GCSE results 
SUBJECT NAME:  Layan Saad, pupil at one of Aldar's school 
Victor Besa /The National
Section:  NA
Reporter:  Anam Rizvi
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School pupils in the Emirates have told of their relief as they secured impressive GCSE results after an exam season mired in controversy.

Pupils were grateful the views of their teachers played a significant role in their achievements.

Just one week ago, A Level students were left reeling after many marks were downgraded due to a flawed algorithm used to decide results following the cancellation of exams due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Earlier this week the British government bowed to pressure amid pupil protests and ditched the system, with final grades instead awarded by assessment centres based on the input of teachers.

Maryam Khan, 16, of Gems Winchester School Oud Metha, in Dubai scored seven A* in business, economics, media studies, global perspective, double science and mathematics.

"I did not think I would get these grades in a pandemic. I heard that so many results would be downgraded and I was terrified but was extremely satisfied with my results," said Ms Khan.

Muhammad Saif, 17, a Pakistani pupil at Gems Winchester School, said his results were above his expectations as he attained eight A*.

Antoni Crouchman (front right) celebrates results with his mother Ela (top right), father Barry (top left) and brother Alex (Bottom left). Courtesy BSAK

The pupil said he was extremely anxious before results day.

"I am very relieved we got centre-assessed grades. Teachers trained us the entire year and they are the best judges as they know our weaknesses," said the pupil who aims to study engineering in Montreal, Canada.

Youssef Saad, a 16-year-old Egyptian Canadian pupil at Dubai British School Jumeirah Park, got straight nines.

"I'm glad that we got teacher-predicted grades as I was worried that grades would be downgraded," he said.

He said teachers assigned pupils work to assess their capabilities.

"Teachers were stringent and it's not a random prediction," said the pupil, who aims to be an astronaut.

Layan Saad, a 16-year-old German pupil at Al Mamoura Academy was happy she scored better grades than initially predicted.

"My predictions were very close but they were lower and have improved," the teenager said.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 20, 2020.  
STORY BRIEF:  GCSE results 
SUBJECT NAME:  Janna AlRiyami, a pupil at one of Aldar's school. 
Victor Besa /The National
Section:  NA
Reporter:  Anam Rizvi

For English and Chemistry, she was predicted a five but got a six, and in Arabic and German she was predicted an eight but got a nine.

"I was really happy and some results surprised me," she said.

Some exam boards use a grading system of one to nine, with others still adopting the traditional A* to G method.

Janna AlRiyami, a 16-year-old Emirati pupil Al Mamoura Academy in Abu Dhabi, was delighted to earn an eight in chemistry and physics and a nine in maths, English language and Literature, French, and Arabic.

"I felt proud of myself as my hard work paid off. I was definitely worried as this was not in my hands," said the pupil, who aims to study at an Ivy League school.

"After my first mock exams, where I got sixes I worked hard to get better grades in English."

Antoni Crouchman, 16, was another pupil satisfied to see his hard work rewarded.

"I was  disappointed that I didn't have the opportunity to take the exams but after, so much anxiety and anticipation I am really happy with my results," he said.

Across Gems schools, 49 per cent of all grades were between A* and A and 76 per cent were graded A* to B.

At Dubai British School Jumeirah Park, 32 pupils received their results, with 82 per cent of results ranging from A* to B and 98 per cent from A* to C.

"We couldn’t be happier with our first ever set of GCSE results," said Brendon Fulton, executive principal at Dubai British School Jumeirah Park.

"Despite all of the confusion and angst over the allocation of grades, we are very confident that our students have received the grades that they deserve and that they have worked so hard for over the last two years."

At British School Al Khubairat, 121 pupils got their GCSE results today with 26 per cent of all results a grade nine, 48 per cent at least an eight grade and 69 per cent between seven to nine.

"It has been a difficult six months for our Year 11 pupils and the uncertainty around examinations results, over the last few weeks, has added further pressure," said Teresa Woulfe, head of secondary at the school at the school.

"I am just delighted that faith and trust have been placed in teachers to award grades."

Aldar Academies announced that more than 95 per cent of its pupils have achieved GCSE grades between nine and four.

More than 56 per cent of all grades above a seven, with more than 21 per cent at grade nine.

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