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SPEA has noted that no individual student will be moved in or out of a class as a result of the transition. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Sharjah: British private schools in Sharjah are moving from the ‘Grade’ system to the ‘Year’ system of the UK curriculum, Gulf News can confirm.

Ziad Shatat, Director of Continuous Improvement Department, Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA), told Gulf News: “The main objective of this project is ensuring that all students at UK curriculum schools are receiving high quality education and aligned to UK National Curriculum Standards. This is in line with SPEA’s strategic goals to raise the quality of education as per the Amiri Decree No. 45 concerning the establishment of Sharjah Private Education Authority.”

Why the change?

The Grade system is one year behind the Year system. However, British schools here that had not fully transitioned to the UK system sometimes called the Grade the same as the Year. For example, they called Grade 10 as Year 10. In practice, this meant students were studying books and syllabus that was a year behind the standards under the UK National Curriculum.

Now, students will have to accelerate learning at some schools. To support British schools in Sharjah to move in line with the UK curriculum, SPEA is guiding them through the transition, which should be completed by 2023.

In Sharjah, there are 27 British catering to some 40,000 students. Some of these schools have already successfully transitioned.

How will schools transition?

Curriculum from Year 1 to Year 9 will be “compressed”. Any repetition of learning concepts will be left out and replaced by aspects that will be useful for the following year. For example, pupils in Year 7, in their last (third) term, will start learning the curriculum of Year 8’s first term. This means that over a two-year period, the transition will be complete.

Schools are expected to use the dual terminology of Grade/Year (for example Grade 5/Year 6) until the transition is finished.

Will students be impacted?

SPEA has affirmed that no student will be ‘demoted’ in the process. Students won’t have to study two years’ worth of curriculum in one year — some parents had thought this after being contacted by their school regarding the transition.

SPEA has noted that no individual student will be moved in or out of a class as a result of the transition. No student will be asked to repeat a year, rather than moving forward with the rest. All students will be treated equally. This is a curriculum alignment, not an age alignment, SPEA said.

What about books?

Shatat affirmed that parents would not have to pay twice for an extra set of books — meant for the next Grade/Year — within the same academic year. There could be some extra handouts or worksheets needed for the curriculum compression to take place.

Graduating as per UK standards

The transition will also see students in British schools here leave school with at least two A-Levels and five GCSEs by the age of 18 in Year 13 (which is the norm in schools in the UK). Additionally, the transition will mean students in British schools here are graduating at the age of 17 or 18 (instead of 19).

British schools here in September 2020 began enrolling students aged three into FS1 — equivalent to pre-KG under the Grade system.

What is the background?

The development follows a June 2020 meeting between SPEA and schools, where schools proposed the compression model as a practical way of aligning with UK standards in terms of the Year system.