Coronavirus: Cambridge International axes international A levels and GCSEs

Body says it will assess pupils’ achievements using 'best available evidence'

08/03/10 - Abu Dhabi, UAE - Students at the Abu Dhabi Indian School take exams on Monday March 8, 2010.  For story on lack of places in Abu Dhabi Indian School.(Andrew Henderson/The National)
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The British body that oversees A-levels and GCSEs in more than 10,000 schools globally on Monday announced it would cancel exams slated for May and June this year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The UK government moved last week to cancel all GCSE and A-level exams nationwide because of the pandemic, in a decision that also affects British curriculum schools in the UAE.

But Cambridge International exams – including Cambridge IGCSE, Cambridge O-level, Cambridge International AS & A Level and Cambridge AICE Diploma – were separate from the exams mentioned by the British government.

“The situation with the Covid-19 outbreak is changing rapidly," Cambridge International said on its website.

"In recent days, many more countries have decided to extend school closures into May and June, making it impossible for many of our schools to hold examinations.

“We have been consulting closely with our global community of schools, who need as much certainty as possible at an uncertain time.

"Our priority is to protect the safety and well-being of our students and teachers, ensure fairness for all our students and support them in continuing with their education.

“Today, therefore, we have taken the difficult decision not to run our international examinations in the May-June 2020 series in any country."

The body said it recognised that pupils had worked hard for their exams and it would work with schools to assess their achievements using “the best available evidence”.

Students will receive a grade and a certificate from Cambridge International, given the knowledge and skills they acquired in their study, Cambridge International said.

It said it would provide guidance to schools on how students would receive those grades, which it insisted would not disadvantage them because of the cancellations.

“We are talking to universities worldwide and they are factoring these unprecedented circumstances into admissions decisions so students can continue with their education journeys as soon as possible,” it said.

Cambridge International said it would continue to offer a wide range of support and resources for schools, teachers and pupils on its website.

It will provide an update for schools on Thursday and “as regularly as possible” after that.

More than 10,000 schools in 160 countries sit Cambridge International exams.

The cancellation came a day after the International Baccalaureate axed its May exams because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Friday, British officials announced a framework for awarding A-level results for 2020.

It paved the way for UAE students to take up university places after the cancellation of the annual exams in the country.

Education officials said teachers would assess pupils using mock exam grades and examination board officials would then review and certify performance to try to ensure university places are filled.