UAE's GCSE results continue to surpass UK national averages

UAE's GCSE results continue to surpass UK national averages
UAE's GCSE results continue to surpass UK national averages
Published: 24 August 2017 - 6:30 a.m.
By: Parinaaz Navdar

Students in the UAE received their GCSE results this morning. And while there was some concern regarding the new grading system, and reports of incorrectly marked papers, the summary of results received by Education Journal Middle East from UAE schools show the country's students continue to perform above the UK's national average.

This year marks the first time students received their results using a system of number grades from 9 to 1, instead of the traditional A* to G grades.

Under the new system, 7 is the equivalent to the old A grade while an 8 is an A* and a 9 is an A**. Direct comparisons are not entirely possible because the new grade 9 is actually higher than the old A* and 5s and 6s both straddle a B grade.

While most subjects continue to be graded from A* to E, three subjects were marked using the new system: English Language, English Literature, and Mathematics.


Provisional results at Dubai College show that 84% of students achieved A*/A grades and 9-7 in this year's examinations, an increase of 2% on last year's results, and a 5% increase on 2015. About 53% of all grades were A* or 8/9 and within that it is notable that 100% of students who opted for Latin or Classical Greek achieved A* grades.

Overall 61 students achieved a full set of A*/A and 9-7 that is half of the cohort, with 9 students achieving a full house of A*s and 8/9s. 42% of students achieved a 9 in GCSE Mathematics, the highest grade possible in the new GCSE, designed to distinguish the most able students in the world.

Commenting on the results, Dubai College headmaster Michael Lambert said: "As I am sure you can imagine, we are delighted with this year's GCSE results which are testament to the dedication of the staff, the hard work of the students and the support of parents. For 88% of our cohort to secure grades 9-7 in the new GCSE Mathematics is very heartening. It seems that recent research published by The New Schools Network is true at Dubai College: children make most progress in schools with a culture of discipline, smart uniforms, longer school days, competitive sports, classics and all three sciences."

Lambert added: "We do need to be careful about the added pressure that the new grade 9 will add to students. Until recently students would strive to achieve as many A* grades as they could. Going forward there will be a desire to achieve as many 9s as possible despite the fact that grade 8s are equivalent to the old A* which is still a very significant achievement."

Given the new grading system, Dubai College also prepared its students and parents for the change through several information evenings, and by changing its entire reporting structure at the school.

Lambert told Education Journal Middle East: "Our deputy head: pastoral - Deb Jones - runs parent information evenings at the beginning of each academic year. For the Year 10 parents last year i.e. this year's GCSE students, we explained the new grading system and the fact that some of their grades would be A*-E and some would be 9 to 1. We have also changed our entire reporting structure throughout the school so that it now runs from 9 to 1. This means that students in Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 are already used to receiving their grades in the new format in which their GCSEs will eventually be reported."


It's been another record-breaking year for GCSE results at Abu Dhabi-based British School Al Khubairat. In 2017, 116 BSAK students made 1106 GCSE entries across 21 subjects.

A summary released by the school shows 56% of students received A*-A grades, while 79% earned A*-B grades. 92% students earned A*-C grades, while the school reported a 100% pass rate.

Top performing students at the school are Andrew El-Kadi with 13 A*s, and Imogen Hughes and Jasmine Laws with 10A*s and one A each.

In English, the first subject at BSAK where students sat the new reformed qualification, 20% achieved the new Grade 9, beating the UK average of 2% for the grade. Additionally, 58% of GCSE English students achieved Grade 9-7, which is equivalent to A*, while 84% achieved the new Grade 9-6, which is equivalent to A*-B.

Commenting on the results, BSAK headmaster Mark Leppard said: "This is a truly wonderful set of GCSE results, and I am incredibly proud of our students, our school and our community. I am also very grateful to our staff who have worked tirelessly to make today's results possible. These results testify to the strength, depth and consistency of the British School Al Khubairat but they also clearly demonstrate that the school continues to strive to be better and to achieve the best possible outcomes for each and every one of our students.'


Non-selective Dubai British School, operated by Taaleem, reported a 100% pass rate for its cohort of 64 students.

Topline results show that 16% of the cohort earned A* grades, 40% earned A*-A grades, while 71% achieved A*-B grades. The school also noted that 80% of its 2017 cohort achieved grades that were above the school's statistical prediction.

Ten students at DBS achieved a full house of A*-A grades, and of those 10, two achieved at least 11 A*s and four achieved at least eight A*s.

DBS principal Brendon Fulton said: "This has been another excellent year for our GCSE students at DBS. Although many were feeling quite anxious about the new subject specification and assessment criteria, their results show that they have made outstanding progress, with over 80% of all grades representing a 'better than expected' outcome. Results day will be a very happy day for our students, who will almost all be able to access their desired A-Level options this year."

Commenting on how the school prepared its students for the reformed grading system, Fulton told Education Journal Middle East: "We have spent much time over the last two years pre-empting, planning for and explaining the changes to our students and parents. We have also created a user friendly conversion chart to explain the outcome equivalencies between grades and progress 8 measures. Of course, none of this would have been possible if we hadn't of taken the time to educate ourselves initially as well. There is significant guidance available through the DofE website, and we also sent a small group of staff over to the UK for some hands-on training."

Additionally, the school had several members from its faculty at the school this morning to answer any other questions parents or students may have. Fulton noted: "We have our full senior leadership team available, as well as many of our faculty leads on hand to have in depth discussions with students and parents not only regarding the grading systems, but pragmatic avenues into Post-16 study as well."


Jumeirah English Speaking School celebrated another record year of GCSE and IGCSE results, with 33.1% of its cohort earning A* grades. 65.6% of students achieved A*-A grades, while 98% earned A*-C grades.


2017 marked the first full set of GCSE results for Kings' School Al Barsha, and the school reported impressive results in its first year.

A total of 44 per cent of grades achieved were A*-A, with the overall A*-C pass rate at 92%. Students' performance was strong across all subjects, but particularly in English Literature, Arabic and History, with 100% of students attaining A*, A or B grades. Students also excelled in the fields of Drama and Science.

Top students at the school include Michael Kamal Rizk, who earned eight A*s and a 9 in Maths. Rhali Attar, the school's head boy sat 10 GCSEs this year and earned four A*s, four As, one B, and a 9 in Maths. Millie McElroy took nine GCSEs and earned five A*s, three As and an 8 in Maths.

Commenting on the results, Kings' Education director of education and Kings' Al Barsha principal Alan Williamson said: "I am extremely pleased that the hard work and efforts of our pupils has been reflected in these outstanding results. Achieving excellent results at GCSE level is a great foundation upon which young people can build future success at A-level, at university, and in their chosen careers."

"These results are a testament to our students' drive, determination, and careful preparation, as well as the caliber of the Schools' teachers. This has given our students the foundation they need to thrive in Sixth Form, and I look forward to seeing their further success at A Level. Our new sixth form aims to provide students with a complete and 360-degree educational experience, so that they may graduate as academically successful, well-rounded and mature young adults who are ready to conquer whatever the future may hold."


Headline results from Brighton College Abu Dhabi show that 40% of the school's 2017 cohort of 76 pupils achieved A*s, while 63% earned A*-A grades. About 87% earned A*-B grades, while 96% earned A*-C grades.

One student earned 11 A*s, while another earned 10 A*s at GCSE and three A*s at A Level - all completed in the same year. Ten pupils at the school earned at least nine A*s or more.

Brighton College Abu Dhabi headmaster Simon Corns commented: "This was another excellent year, with 3% more A*s than last year, despite it allegedly being a tougher year, and similar results elsewhere. We were delighted to see that we had 15 grade 9, the top of the new grading system in English and Maths. Given how few of these were to be awarded, that was most encouraging.

"Spectacular results were achieved in Chemistry, a 'shortage' subject, 91% A*/A with 57 candidates sitting the examination. In Mandarin we had 100% A* and, unusually, not one of the candidates was a native speaker."


At Sunmarke Dubai, over a third of all results were A* or A grades. 90% of the cohort achieved A*-C grades, while 70% earned A*-B grades.

Brothers Daud and Moiz Bhatti earned 12 A*s and four As between them, while Celso Maneia earned five A*s and five As.

Ninety percent of students attained five GCSEs at Grade C or above, whilst two thirds of all students attained five GCSEs including Maths and English at B or better.

Sunmarke Dubai executive principal Keith Miller said: "Building on our excellent A level results, Sunmarke students have continued to excel with an outstanding set of GCSE results in the school's founding year.With over 90% of students achieving 5 A*-C including English and Mathematics, this will enable our students to access their chosen pathway for their next step be it A level, BTEC level 3 courses, or a combination of the two.

"We are so proud of our students and look forward to celebrating their successes with our community on their return to school. We continue to welcome more students to Sunmarke as Parents recognise the quality learning experience offered leading to outstanding outcomes both personally and academically."

This story will be updated throughout the day as more schools send us their results. Please email if you would like your school's GCSE results to be featured in our round-up.

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