Students all over the world have faced huge changes and disruptions owing to the pandemic. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: British curriculum exams, including IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) and A-level exams, this May and June have been cancelled and will be replaced with teacher-assessed grades (TAGs), OxfordAQA, one of the largest British curriculum examination boards, confirmed on Thursday.

Sadie Visick, managing director of OxfordAQA, said: “We have taken this difficult decision in order to end the uncertainty following the recent announcement of the cancellation of exams in England by the UK Government.

“OxfordAQA’s international GCSE and A-level exams are benchmarked to UK standards, and maintaining fairness and consistency in the grades provided to all students, in all countries around the world, is a priority for us. Regrettably, it has become clear that it will not be possible for exams to be held everywhere in May/June 2021, because of the continued impact of coronavirus,” he underlined.

‘Right decision’

Visick noted: “We believe this is the right decision to ensure a level playing field for both international students and students in England. Everyone, including us, would have preferred a return to a normal exam series in the summer. Many schools have told us that having a consistent approach means that no student in any school or country will be disadvantaged, and that assessing all students in the same way is the only way to be confident that grades are comparable and fair,” he continued.

Visick emphasised: “There needs to be one system and way of assessing that is applied to all students across the whole world. This is a global pandemic and while the situation has differed from country to country and the adaptation to teaching has also varied greatly, these students have all faced huge changes and disruptions — not only in their experience of school and learning, but also in their home environment — and the mental impact that has had on them needs to also be recognised and acknowledged.”

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What’s next?

Visick said Ofqual (UK Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) is expected to publish their consultation findings by the end of next month and more details about the approach for Teacher Assessed Grades will be confirmed. He added: “We will also engage with the parents so that they know that schools are following a rigorous and robust process, which will mean that students will receive the grades they deserve this summer.”