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UAE students ‘beyond thrilled’ over A level results

Dubai: Students in the UAE on Thursday received their A level results, with schools reporting stellar performances despite ongoing changes to the school-leaving exams, which many say have become tougher.

A level is an ‘Advanced Level’ qualification under the UK’s General Certificate of Education that is offered by UK educational bodies to students worldwide who are completing secondary or pre-university education.

A level exams have become “linear” instead of the previous “modular” model.

It means students (typically Year 13 pupils) have to sit for bigger, make-or-break exams after two years of study. Previously, they could take two smaller exams (spread over two years), whose results could be combined as one overall grade.

Also, the breadth and scope of coursework that is now tested in the exam has expanded for many subjects.’

‘Highest achiever’

On Thursday, students and parents in the UAE visited their schools to collect the results – many cried and hugged each other as they received the good news. The A level results were released on Thursday globally.

Last year, over 3,500 students in the UAE sat A level exams, Gulf News had reported. This year’s figure was not immediately available on Thursday.

Edward Garemo from Brighton College Abu Dhabi obtained eight A* (A-stars), the highest A level grade, which is above A. He is the school’s highest achiever this year, and possibly of one the highest in the UAE.

Garemo, 17, who is Swedish, had said earlier: “Most pupils do three A levels. I have an innate curiosity and passion for learning, and instead of confining myself to three, I chose to pursue eight.”

Garemo, who was overseas on Thursday, has graduated a year earlier than usual, at the end of his Year 12.

At Brighton College, 42 per cent of all grades achieved were A* to A or equivalent; 95 per cent were A* to C or equivalent.

Simon Corns, head master of Brighton College Abu Dhabi, said: “I congratulate most warmly our Sixth Form pupils and I would like to thank our committed staff and parents for their valuable contribution to this great achievement. Brighton College Abu Dhabi pupils have exceeded expectations and demonstrated that they are capable of the highest standards at A level. The College is celebrating another year with the vast majority of its cohort pupils holding at least one Russell Group offer.”

He added: “Among our pupils who have met the entrance requirements for top universities – such as University College London, Durham, St Andrews, The Royal Veterinary College, King’s College, London School of Economics, University of Edinburgh, Harvard, Yale and McGill – is one of our pupils who will progress to the University of Oxford to study Law. I have no doubt, given their kindness to each other, mutual respect and determination to do their best that they will make a fantastic contribution to society and will take the Brighton spirit with them the next phase of their lives.”

‘Outstanding results’

In Dubai, Varun Menon from The Winchester School – Jebel Ali is GEMS Education’s highest achiever, receiving five A*. GEMS Education is the biggest private school group in the UAE.

This year, 17 per cent of GEMS students achieved an A* while 73 per cent obtained an A* to B grade. GEMS pupils took over 1,350 A levels this year. GEMS currently offers A levels at eight schools in the UAE.

Jumeirah College, a GEMS school, celebrated “outstanding” results. Its students sat over 400 hundred A levels – 11 per cent achieved an A*, with 41 per cent at either A* or A grade. Two students achieved straight A* grades, with just under 20 per cent of the cohort achieving all A*-A grades.

Students from GEMS’ Jumeriah College, Our Own English High School – Al Ain, The Winchester School – Jebel Ali and The Cambridge High School – Abu Dhabi have received four A* grades.

Brendan Law, Vice President of Education – British Cluster, GEMS Education, said: “These exceptional examination results are a testament to the hard work of our students. I would like to express how proud I am to see that GEMS Education students have once again over-achieved in their A level exam results. We wish our students every success in their projects and studies beyond GEMS Education, as their futures appear to be very bright indeed.”

Anwar Khadijah, who achieved top results at Jumeirah College, said: “I am beyond thrilled with my results [four A*]. I would like to give a special shout out to all of my teachers for putting up with my stress ahead of the exams. I am really excited for the future.”

Kadijah, 17, who is from Pakistan, said she is headed to Princeton University in the US to study public health policy.

Simon O’ Connor, principal of Jumeirah College, told Gulf News the school’s results were especially impressive given the “much harder exams” this year because of the linear format. He also pointed out that Jumeirah College is a “non-selective school”, meaning “we take students of all abilities, and yet we end up with the [high] results that we’re publishing today [Thursday]”.

He attributed the success to two main factors: “phenomenal” standards of teaching at the school and working closely with pupils on an individual basis.

GEMS students have already received acceptances from universities and colleges such as University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University College London, Imperial College London, King’s College London MIT, Stanford University, Columbia University, Princeton University, and University of Pennsylvania, among others.

100 per cent success

At Abu Dhabi-based Aldar Academies’ Al Yasmina Academy, the cohort of 38 A level students earned a 100 per cent pass rate overall, with 87 per cent achieving one or more A* to C grades.

Amber Harding, the academy’s highest achiever with two A* and two A grades, said: “I did cry when I opened my results – there was definitely a feeling of relief and overwhelming happiness. I was lucky to have teachers around me that were so willing to put in the extra hours to help, but this also took hours and hours of independent study.”

Harding plans to study biomedicine at Maastricht University in The Netherlands.

Zaid Jaffrey, who earned two A* and one A at the academy, said: “This is a great feeling. I already knew my predicted grades so wasn’t completely surprised, but it’s still so exciting to achieve at this level. Organisation, consistency, hard work and, of course, the support of my teachers were so important to my success. Their door was always open for me.”

Jaffrey will now study Electrical Engineering at Imperial College London.

Dr Tim Hughes, principal of Al Yasmina Academy, said: “We’re thrilled to celebrate another year of rising A level results, especially against the backdrop of our ‘outstanding’ rating as an overseas British School earlier this year.”

Dr Hughes added: “It’s been hugely satisfying to see our students exceed expectations and make outstanding progress at Al Yasmina Academy. In particular, their exceptional performance in the STEM disciplines, which are such an integral part of our future-focused curriculum. This is another results day to be proud of for our entire academy community.”

Speaking about the school’s success, Nilay Özral, Aldar Academies’ CEO, said: “This wonderful achievement not only points to continued excellence from Al Yasmina Academy, but also reinforces the fact that the UAE’s education sector is continuing to mature and flourish. Many of this year’s graduating cohort will move on to the best universities in the world and eventually lead their industry, with the roots of that success having taken hold in the UAE. Today’s results are an important stepping stone in doing so, and we’re extremely proud of all our students.”

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