Covid-19: How Well Are Hong Kong Schools Coping?

As Hong Kong’s international schools enter their sixth week of mandatory closures, we look at how online learning is being used to educate students, the cost of closing schools for at least 12 weeks, and how students are coping with the pressure of exams. There are lessons for schools around the world...
This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19
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This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19

How are students taking IGCSEs, A Levels and the IBDP affected?

GCSE exams

The students most affected by the ongoing closures are those studying international curricula exams including IGCSEs, A Levels and the IBDP. These students sit their final exams in April, May and June, and have coursework deadlines from March onwards.

Sha Tin College student Kevin's desk at home, with a reminder that it's 63 days until his IB exans...

It’s a concern for ESF Sha Tin College student Kevin, who has the countdown to his first IB exam marked clearly on his desk at home. He said;

“I'm worried that this year's students may not finish the syllabus in time. Given that we only have two months of 'school' left, there isn't much time to learn new material and revise them thoroughly.”

Last month the Education Bureau responded to growing concerns by allowing schools to reopen campuses to graduating students – those studying GCSEs, A Levels and the IBDP – for tutorials and assessments. Kellett School, Canadian International School of Hong Kong, and Chinese International School are among those allowing Year 12-13 students back onto campus for a reduced timetable to help them prepare for International Baccalaureate and A Level exams.

This, combined with extended coursework deadlines from the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), is easing some of the pressure on senior students. There is no indication that the IBO and UK boards for IGCSEs and A Levels will delay the exam schedule for these students.

However, Ofqual , which regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England, has issued this statement:

"We recognise that students, parents, schools and colleges will be concerned about the possible impact of coronavirus on the 2020 summer exam series. Our advice at this time is to continue to prepare for exams and other assessments as normal.

"We continue to work closely with exam boards, other regulators and the Department for Education and we have met to plan for a range of scenarios, as the public would expect. Our overriding priorities are fairness to students this summer and keeping disruption to a minimum.

"It is still many weeks until exams start and we will issue updated advice if necessary, giving schools and colleges as much notice as possible."

Read more:
Special Plans for IB, A Level, IGCSE [WSA HK]
IBO Extends IB deadlines [WSA HK]

Kellett School is holding small group tutorials for its upper sixth students preparing for their A Level exams in May, and students have returned to the Kowloon Bay campus to work on their coursework for art, design and technology, media and drama.

Mark Steed, principal and CEO at Kellett School, said: “We are putting measures in place to ensure that they remain in small groups whilst in school in addition to the routine measures of masks, handwashing etc.

"Apart from the minority of students who are not in Hong Kong, we anticipate that most of the year will be in school. We do not envisage that many parents will object to this."

Hong Kong's EDB is also allowing international schools to open up as examination centres for IGCSE, A Level and IB exams.

Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong says: “Like the other schools in Hong Kong, the College is preparing to host the IB Diploma examinations. Depending on the situation, the College is prepared to operate examinations onsite in smaller groups and take precautionary safety measures, including temperature checking of all students and the sourcing of additional masks and sanitiser.”

Next page: How are students being supported in terms of wellbeing?

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