Dubai: Schools in the UAE on Tuesday announced record-breaking results for A-levels, whose exams were cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grades this year were instead awarded using school-level exams and coursework, with head teachers signing off on the teacher-assessed grades before sending them to the UK boards. In the UK, almost 45 per cent of students achieved either A* or A grades, well above last year’s record of 36.5 per cent.
In the UAE, many schools said the latest results were their best ever. Across 16 GEMS Education schools following the British curriculum, more than half of all entries achieved A* to A.
Dino Varkey, Group CEO, GEMS Education, said: “I am absolutely delighted to see GEMS students achieve, for the second year in a row, such outstanding, record-breaking A-level results. The entire GEMS community is incredibly proud of everything our students, teachers and schools have accomplished, especially at a time when in many parts of the world students have unfortunately struggled due to the difficulties of the pandemic.”
‘Everything fell into place’
Atharv Naik from GEMS Cambridge International School in Dubai achieved A*s in all five of his A-level subjects and is now heading to Imperial College London to study engineering. He said: “Obviously five A*s in five subjects is a bit rigorous. I took Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology, and I was studying Further Maths independently. The teachers were here to help me with any questions or concepts that I didn’t really get the hang of, and over time it’s just a matter of compartmentalising your work and putting in a bit of commitment. Then everything falls into place.”
At Dubai British School, Emirates Hills (DBSEH), 86 per cent of the A-level grades were A* to B, up from 78 per cent in 2020. School principal Simon Jodrell said: “I am delighted to be able to congratulate the students who, despite challenging circumstances, have received exceptional results today, which truly reflect their efforts and achievements.”
Jodrell added: “To have demonstrated such sustained high levels of commitment in uncertain times has seen our students justly rewarded with entry to both Russell group universities in the UK, and leading universities worldwide, and the results are extremely well deserved.”
‘Starting a new chapter’
DBSEH student Aprajita Singhvi earned A*s in all her subjects (Business Studies, History, Psychology). “I’m super excited to pursue my love for psychology as well as begin a beautiful new chapter of my life at University of Amsterdam,” she said.
Horizon International School, Dubai, saw a 100 per cent pass rate, like the other schools who shared their results with media. Its entries saw 81 per cent of grades fall between A* and B. Principal Darren Gale said: “Our students and staff have shown unquestionable resilience and determination to succeed and for that, we must congratulate them for being excellent role models from whom we can all learn about success in adversity.”
Sunmarke School in Dubai saw 88 per cent of its A-levels scoring A* to B. Principal Dr Neil Hopkin said: “We are so proud of our amazing students and staff, whose achievements are celebrated once again in these truly outstanding results.”
More than half (54 per cent) of all awarded grades at The English College in Dubai were A* to A. Principal Mark Ford said: “I am absolutely thrilled with our A-level results this year – the best in the school’s 30-year history. This is an extraordinary achievement for a school that is proudly inclusive and non-selective.”
It was also a record-breaking year for Aldar Academies, part of Aldar Education, a leading education group in Abu Dhabi. Its highest ever A-level results saw nearly 50 per cent of grades achieving A* to A across all subjects. Sahar Cooper, CEO of Aldar Education, said: “These grades are the highest to date for the group and I am immensely proud of our students for their hard work and resilience.”
Brighton College Al Ain saw almost all candidates (90 per cent) obtain A* to B. Head Master Dr Kenneth Greig said: “This has been another extremely difficult year for our pupils with the changes to examinations due to the pandemic, but I’m so pleased that the awarding bodies have placed their trust in Centre Assessed Grades… I am particularly pleased to see that so many girls have achieved top results in the sciences and mathematics.”