UAE pupils anxious about lower than expected A-level grades before result day

Headteachers said the results should be in line with the historical performance of schools

Simon Corns, headmaster at Brighton College Abu Dhabi, said he expects the results to be in line with the historical performance of the school.
Simon Corns, headmaster at Brighton College Abu Dhabi, said he expects the results to be in line with the historical performance of the school.

Pupils at UK curriculum schools in the UAE will be at a disadvantage if A-level results are downgraded this week, said headteachers.

A-level, or an equivalent qualification, is required for university entrance, and admission offers are based on grades achieved.

Enrolment in a good college may become difficult if pupils secure lower than expected results.

I am hoping they (examination boards) might already have learnt from the Scottish and the IB experience and are going to think carefully and get things right

Simon Corns

This week, the Scottish Qualifications Authority lowered the National 5 of almost 125,000 pupils, which is the equivalent of A-levels qualification taken by pupils in Scotland.

Heads of schools in the UAE said they were concerned that results predicted by teachers may be similarly downgraded.

At Brighton College Abu Dhabi, 63 pupils expect to receive their results on Thursday.

“These things are handled at a UK level so I see no reason why it would be any different here,” said Simon Corns, headmaster at Brighton College Abu Dhabi.

“I am hoping they (examination boards) might already have learnt from the Scottish and the IB experience and are going to think carefully and get things right.

"Ideally, they should get it right from the start. If they do not, I am hoping for more clarity on the appeals procedure because they can rest assured that schools will fight very hard for justice for their pupils.

“The way they are likely to get things right is by listening to the schools and teachers who have made the assessments very carefully.

“We were extremely careful about producing predictions based on evidence and I hope the boards will listen to us.

“I am optimistic but I have some reservations about the statistical model one hears they are using.”

Mr Corns said he expected the results to be in line with the historical performance of the school.

"I am sure pupils will be concerned and are waiting to see what the situation actually is," he said.

"We submitted a great deal of information and if the boards have used it sensibly, then they ought to have arrived at accurate and rational conclusions."

Pupils around the world are waiting for their A-level results to be announced on Thursday. Getty 
Pupils around the world are waiting for their A-level results to be announced on Thursday. Getty

Mr Corns said schools which performed poorly in the past but had a capable year group, or schools that were appearing for A-levels for the first time, will likely take a hit.

He urged the pupils to stay calm and keep the morale high.

"There is time for schools to appeal where necessary and let's hope the boards will be reasonable especially after the mistakes that were made in Scotland," he said.

Some schools are already consulting legal experts to see what the options are for challenging the exam boards so the situation is being taken very seriously

Fiona McKenzie

A-level and other external exams like the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme were cancelled this year because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Instead, pupils were given their final scores based on predicted grades by teachers, their marks in different subjects and the school’s academic performance in the past.

The IB diploma and Career-related programme results, the equivalent of A-levels, were awarded to more than 170,000 pupils on July 6.

Thousands of IB pupils felt let down after they received lower than expected grades and appealed for reassessments.

Almost 22,000 pupils signed an online petition to dispute their scores, claiming they were an unfair reflection of their performance.

At the time, Jeff Evans from Learning Key Education Consultancy said A-level pupils could face the same situation as their grades would be estimated in a similar manner.

Fiona McKenzie, head of Carfax Education, an education consultancy in Dubai, said: “This is an incredibly stressful time for pupils and to have all of this uncertainty is very challenging.

“We have been working with all our pupils to plan for a best case and a worst case scenario so they can react quickly on the day.

“Given the reactions to the IB results and the recent Scottish results there is undeniably an expectation that pupils may not receive the grades that were predicted.

"Some schools are already consulting legal experts to see what the options are for challenging the exam boards so the situation is being taken very seriously.”

Simon Jodrell, principal, Dubai British School, said pupils at the school were hoping for positive results on Thursday.

“The estimated grades underwent a rigorous internal process at school level based on pupil performance over the two-year courses and a history of excellent results,” said Mr Jodrell.

“This gives us confidence that the examination boards will support results that reflect the hard work and effort of this year's cohort of pupils.

"We are comfortable and confident that the grades submitted accurately reflect individual performance in a given subject.

“Schools are able to appeal to the examination boards should they not support these anticipated outcomes."

Updated: August 12, 2020 10:46 AM

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