2019 A Level results, UAE Students Outperform

UAE students have continued to perform at the highest levels, beating global averages for A' level results according to provisional analysis by WhichSchoolAdvisor.com
2019 A Level results, UAE Students Outperform
By Lyn Soppelsa
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Six weeks after the last of 800,000 A-level exam papers were sat in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and, of course, in the UAE, this year’s A Level results are being released. UAE students have continued to raise the bar for achievement year on year, and 2019 continues that trajectory.

  No. of Students No. of exam entries % of exam entries graded A* % of exam entries graded A*-A % of exam entries graded A*-B % of exam entries graded A*-C % of exam entries graded A*-E
Dubai College 131 480 26 62   95  
Dubai British School 44       78    
Dubai English Speaking College 178 561 17 41 70 91.1 99.6
GEMS Education group 600 1700   33      
Jumeirah College 140 437 15.3 46.5   94.5 99.8
Kings Al Barsha  29            
BSAK 97 316 18 46 67 89 100
Brighton College AD 51   11 40 68 86 100
Brighton College AA 24 74 7 27   82 99
Sharjah English 32     28 56   99
The English College 78 195 7 24   82 100
Cranleigh Abu Dhabi 15 37   29 63 82 100

The proportion of students achieving the top grades at A Level has fallen to its lowest level for more than a decade according to the UK's Joint Council for Qualifications, with some 25.5% achieving an A Grade or higher, whilst 75.8% received a C or above (down from 77% in 2018 and the lowest level for ten years).   However, results from schools across the UAE continue to show improvements and, in some cases, records being broken.

Used by University and College admissions services around the world, A Levels remain one of the most widely recognised pre-university and college entry examinations. Figures from UCAS (the University and College Admissions Service in the UK, which coordinates university placements across the country) show that 408,960 Sixth Formers from the UK and overseas have had places confirmed, while among UK students alone, 348,890 applicants have been accepted - a 1% fall compared to 2018. 

First results in the UAE were provided by academically selective Dubai College which remains extremely popular with high-achieving, ambitious families. The number of students at Dubai College, which offers solely A Levels, has grown significantly since 2011, when 97 students sat 301 examinations, compared with 2019, when 131 students sat 480 examinations. 

This year's students achieved another successful set of A Level results with 62% of all examinations taken resulting in an A or A*, 26% at A*, and 95% at A*-C. Exactly one third of the College’s most recent leavers have achieved all As and A*s and seven students are celebrating after achieving all A*s. Over 50% of Dubai College’s students will be heading to the top 1% of institutions across the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, including students who will be joining Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, and Melbourne among others.

The results would situate Dubai's highest performing school within the Top 100 independent school in the United Kingdom, positioned at 55th in this year's ranking.  The UK's highest ranked school, Oxford International College, achieved 91.84% A*-A, although with a cohort one-third of the size of DC. In terms of the number of students, Dubai College compares more closely with Cardiff Sixth Form College, which came second with 89.88% A*-A grades.

Head of Sixth Form at Dubai College, Bobby Trivic, said of the results that “all of our students should be very proud of their achievements. Against an ever-changing educational backdrop, they have once again proven their academic pedigree, whilst still somehow finding time to excel outside the classroom. To achieve one A* requires multi-disciplinary expertise, so for a quarter of all examinations taken to result in this grade is testament to the learners’ and teachers’ dedication and talent.”

Dubai British School, one of the highly inclusive Taaleem schools, was delighted to share that the ‘Class of 2019’ has achieved the best Post-16 results in the school’s history, with its 44 A Level students' exam entries achieving 78% of all grades at A*-B; a significant increase in performance of 5% from last year’s previously best results.  Dubai British School was keen to underline the success of their alternative BTEC pathway which provides a vocational option for students, as opposed to the more academic A Level curriculum.

Principal, Simon Jodrell said "We could not be prouder of our ‘Sixth Form Students’ at DBS, their hard work has paid off". This year there were 58 students in Year 13, with 44 on the A-Level course and 14 on the BTEC pathway. The school is also delighted with the success of the newly introduced BTEC programmes of study.

Head of Secondary School Brian Horwell stated "When introducing new courses, it is always imperative to ensure they are appropriate, challenging and provide opportunities for students to excel. The BTEC results are exceptional, and I am especially delighted for the students that chose this pathway. This year, 12 out of 14 BTEC students were awarded all *Distinctions in their results. A real testament to their positivity and sustained effort over this innovative course."


Jumeirah College student celebrations

GEMS Education, the largest education group in the UAE, had nearly 600 students sit over 1,700 A Level examinations across its schools. Unfortunately, GEMS has only released limited information for the majority of the 13 schools that offer A Levels in the UAE, but across all GEMS school, 33% of entries achieved an A* or A grade

At GEMS Jumeirah College, where approximately 25% of all A Level exams across the GEMS group were taken - and the only one to provide detailed information - 140 students sat 437 A Levels exams this year, and once again, records have been broken. 15.3% of papers were graded A* (compared with 13.4% a year ago), 46.5% were graded A*-A (42.7% last year), 94.5% at A*-C, and 99.8% at A*-E. 30 students gained all A* or A grades and 83 (59%) students gained all A*-B grades. Amir Ghirgis achieved a remarkable 4A* & 1A.

Kazal Oshodi, from GEMS Jumeirah College, is a high achiever and his score for Maths is in the top 50 in the world. He got four A*s in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry, and will attend Cambridge University to study Engineering.

Principal of Jumeirah College, Simon O’Connor, said "Fundamental to our school is the understanding that all students have the potential to achieve the highest grades and, yet again, these results demonstrate this to be the case. The students have done wonderfully – far exceeding expectations that would be placed on them elsewhere. This reflects years of hard work from both the students and their teachers, who work tirelessly to support each individual."


Kings' Barsha A Level students jumping for joy at their results.

Kings' School Al Barsha was also happy to share information about its students’ success in their first set of A Level results, although full details of exam grades achieved have not been provided. 29 founding members of the school’s Sixth Form took the exams and the following students were among the high achievers - Rhali Attar achieved A*, A, A, A and will be reading Mathematics at Warwick University, Millie McElroy achieved A*, A, A and will be reading Law at Durham University, Goncalo Lopez obtained A, A, A, B and will be reading Medicine at the Nova School, Portugal, Michael Rizk achieved A*, A, A and will be reading Aeronautical Engineering at Southampton University, and Jainisha Thadhani achieved an A, A, A and will be reading Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland.

Mike Bloy, Secondary Headteacher, of Kings’ School Al Barsha, said: “We are a proudly inclusive school and are thrilled with the progress that all our students have made. As a school, we encourage our students to pursue their own pathway, choosing the subjects they are passionate about, rather than being a school that determines their A-Level choices based on GCSE results alone.”


BSAK student Karishma who plans to study Biomedical Science and Imperial College, London having achieved A*, A, A.

The British School Al Khubeirat (BSAK) was the first school in Abu Dhabi to share its results today, which were the best ever achieved in the school’s 50 year history. 97 students (including Principal Mark Leppard’s son) sat a total of 316 exams this year.

18% of exam entries achieved A* grades compared with 9% in 2018. 46% of entries were graded A*-A, against 34% a year ago, whilst 67% of entries were graded A*-B, and 89% of exams achieved A*-C. There was a 100% pass rate. Six students obtained all A* grades, almost a third achieved 3 A* and/or A grades, and 41 students achieved 3 A*, A or B grades. In total 63% of students achieved at least 1 A or A* grade. Students have secured places at Oxford, LSE, Imperial, Bath, Kings and Durham in the UK and Columbia, Duke, John Hopkins and NYU in the US.

BSAK also had BTEC Diploma Level 3 results in Engineering, Business and Sport. 100% of students passed the examinations with 12 students achieving Distinction* or Distinction grades - equivalent to A*-A at A Level with 75% of those grades at the higher Distinction* - A* Equivalent.

Headmaster Mark Leppard MBE commented, “I am extremely proud of our students and pleased to be celebrating another year of record A-level results. They worked so hard, and their commitment throughout the year was unwavering and perhaps that’s why I am not surprised, just delighted for them and their families.”

Messaging on Twitter, Mr. Leppard said, “having experienced 20+ years of A Level results as a teacher, today was the first experiencing results as a parent. We could not be prouder of our son, also appreciating how nervous today was for parents. Well done again to @BSAKsixthform”.

Also in Abu Dhabi, Brighton College released details of its students’ A Level successes. 51 students took the examinations – a slightly smaller cohort than last year’s 69. The school did not release details of the number of exam papers taken by its students, but revealed that 11% of results were graded A* compared with 14% a year ago, 40% were graded A*-A (42% a year ago), 68% were graded A*-B, 86% A*-C and there was a 100% pass rate. The highest grades achieved by an individual student were 3A*s and 1A.

Simon Corns, Head Master of Brighton College Abu Dhabi said, “I am delighted that our pupils have once again achieved an outstanding set of A level results and, most tellingly, have exceeded even last year’s excellent value added score with +0.8 (0.6 in 2018). The 100% pass rate and a remarkably good A*/A performance of 40% will enable our pupils to secure excellent university places, as they have done consistently for the last three years, at prestigious institutes such as Oxbridge in the UK and Brown in the US and for subjects such as Medicine and Dentistry."

At sister school, Brighton College Al Ain, the school celebrated a 99% pass-rate for the second year running, with over half of the pupils accomplishing A-level grades A or B. With a cohort of 24 students, a 50% increase from the cohort of 16 a year ago, 7% of the 74 exam entries were graded A*, 27% were graded A*-A, and 82% A*-C.

Joe Hall, Head of Sixth Form said, “We are extremely pleased to be able to celebrate so many success stories in the Sixth Form at Brighton College Al Ain this year, in both our A level and AS level results. This year saw our largest cohort yet, sitting examinations across eighteen academically challenging subjects and, in a number of measures, producing our best set of A level results yet.”

Sharjah English School is also celebrating its students’ results. With outstanding achievements from a cohort of 32 students across the ability range, SES is very proud of what its students have accomplished.  28% of results were at A*/A, and 56% at A* to B, with a 99% pass rate.

Highlights include results from Ahmed Abdel-Naby with A*AAB, who will be going to Michigan University to study Pre-medical Sciences, Jade Sillere who achieved A* A A and will be going to University College London to study Economics, Dernas Suhail and Rohan Imran, both achieving AAA, who will be attending the University of York to study Medicine, and Warwick University to study Accounting respectively, Joshua Vaughn with A* A B who will be attending Queens Belfast to study Product Design Engineering, Bahira Al Mantawi with A* A B B, who will join Loughborough University to study Sports Technology, and Petek Gorduysus who achieved AAB.

Principal John Nolan said “Students and staff at Sharjah English School are celebrating another set of excellent A-level results. With outstanding achievements for students across the ability range, we are very proud of what all our young people have accomplished. Our students' hard work, resilience and determination have paid off and they are now deservedly moving on to the best universities around the world to continue their studies.”

At Dubai English Speaking College, the largest ever cohort of 178 students, with a genuinely inclusive profile, on average, have made progress by almost a third of a grade on what they were expected to achieve across all subjects (+0.28 Value added).  The overall results, from students who are not selected academically, show that 41% achieved an A* or A grade; 70% of students achieved A* - B and 99.6% passed with grades A* - E.

In addition, a further 51 BTEC students, across four subjects, achieved a 100% pass rate with 80% gaining a double distinction (AA equivalent).

Most students have received offers from their university of choice and this includes Oxford, Cambridge and US Ivy League. The highest achieving student gained 5A* with thirty-two other students gaining at least 3 A*/A.  

Christopher Vizzard, Headteacher at DESC said "We are pleased to announce our A level results for this academic year and to celebrate the high performing achievement of our students. We are proud of all our students, from our highest attainers with a set of straight A*/As, to those for whom pass grades earned across the attainment range represent equally impressive success stories. This is also a fabulous tribute to our talented teaching staff who strive to ensure the needs of all sixth form learners are met. Congratulations to all students for their hard work and dedication in achieving this record success and we wish them all the best in their future." 

Students at The English College Dubai are also celebrating their A Level results. A total of 78 students sat the exams this year (compared with 61 a year ago) submitting 195 entries.  7% of entries were awarded an A* grade (compared with 5% last year), 24% of entries were graded A*-A, and 82% were graded A*-C.  All entries achieved a pass between A*-E. The highest grades awarded to individual students were 2A* and 2As, and 3A*s.

Speaking on behalf of The English College, Dr. Fahd Kahlaoui, Vice Principal, commented "we are proud of the achievements of our students once again this year. And whilst academic achievement is important, we are a fully inclusive school; we don't look at the results alone, but also at the progress of each child, from where they started their year individually and where they got to with their results."

Students will be attending a wide range of universities including Queen Mary University, University College London, Imperial College London, King's College London, London School of Economics, University of Manchester, University of Edinburgh, Exeter University and Cardiff University.

Deputy Headteacher, Dr. Fahd Kahlaoui, said "The English College is yet again celebrating another successful year maintaining a positive trend in A level results over the last 5 years. As a truly all-inclusive school, our students continue to excel, making outstanding progress throughout their time at the college. We would like thank our teachers for their dedication and hard work and to congratulate all of our students for their commitment and effort throughout the year and wish them all the best in the next stage of their lives".

Cranleigh Abu Dhabi had its first ever set of A Level results and was delighted with the outcome. 15 students were entered for 37 exams and achieved 29% A*-A grades, 63% A*-B, 82% A*-C and 100% A*-E. 

Speaking on behalf of the school, Michael Wilson, Principal said “The 2018/19 academic year is a significant milestone for us and we are delighted with our Year 13 pupils’ achievements. I am happy to say they have all been accepted onto their preferred university courses which will see them go to universities in the UAE, UK, USA, Italy and the Netherlands. More importantly we are proud of the young adults they have become.” 

The graduated A Level students from Cranleigh will be go to a number of prestigious universities both in the UAE and overseas including Architectural Association of London (UK), Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (UAE), Loughborough University (UK), Manchester Met University(UK), Trinity College (USA), University of Edinburgh (UK), University of Essex (UK), University of St Andrews (UK), University of The Hague (The Netherlands), University of Warwick (UK), University of Winchester (UK), and University of York (UK).

Aldar Academies chose to provide a joint statement of results for Al Ain Academy and Al Yasmina Academy.   A total of 55 students from both schools participated in the A Level examinations, and Aldar Academies claimed outstanding results for them.  All examinations were graded in the bands A*- E, therefore providing a 100% pass rate. 

At Al Yasmina Academy (which, as the longer-running Secondary school, we would expect to have the majority of students), 44% of exam entries scored A*, A or B.  Al Ain Academy reported that 60% of grades were at A*-B, exceeding the UK benchmark of 53%.  However, without knowing the number of students  at each school, it is difficult to comment on these results in comparative terms.

At Sunmarke School, A Level students achieved outstanding grades across the Humanities, Arts and the Sciences as the school's Year 13 cohort more than doubled in size. 29% of all A Levels were awarded A*- A, 52% were A*- B, 78% of results were A*- C and 99% were A*- E (this is a percentage of all exam entries).·

Top students included Masenesa Shnaib who achieved an A*ABB in Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology, Dunyasha Yattogoda who achieved an A*A*A in Business, Sociology, and English, Amaan Sayed who achieved A*A*B in Maths, Physics and Computer Science.  Ibrahim Abi-aad was awarded with a Distinction Star (*) Distinction in BTEC Business, and a Distinction and Merit in BTEC Travel and Tourism.

BTEC Level 3 students also gained outstanding results with 58% of all BTEC students achieving a Distinction Star (*) and Distinction, whilst 85% were awarded with Distinction Star (*) to Merit and 100% of all BTECs were awarded Distinction Star (*) to Pass. A Distinction Star (*) is the equivalent of an A* at A Level for University admissions.

The continued success at A Level, now augmented by the excellent performance of its BTEC students, gives the school a strong record of success prior to the launch of the International Baccalaureate Diploma and Career-Related pathways that start this academic year 2019-20.

Commenting on this year’s results, Jason King, Head of Secondary said, “We are delighted with the performance of all of our students, and wish our graduating students, many of whom are set to attend their first-choice university next year, all the best in the next step of their educational journey.”

This year’s A Level results have not been without controversy with the grade boundaries for one of the largest Examination Boards commonly used in UAE schools, Edexcel, having been leaked the day before Sixth Formers in the UAE were due to receive their A-level results.  This comes on top of a Maths exam paper having been leaked shortly before students sat the exam.

Documents show students needed to obtain just 55% to get an A in Maths, compared to 61% last year.  The exam is marked out of 300, with students only having needed to get 43 right to pass with an E grade.  Students had complained the exam was too hard, but the exam board had said, before the leak emerged, that it was clear the paper was of an appropriate standard. However, comments about grade degradation, which largely sparked the change in format to A Level exams that has taken place over the past two years, will almost inevitably follow.

Furthermore, the Labour opposition party in the UK has suggested that if they were to be elected to Government, they would propose a complete revamp of the university entrance process and its timing to allow for students to apply based on their actual grades, rather than their predicted grades as is currently the case. How this would working from a practical perspective has not been revealed.

However, for this year’s A Level students, none of this matters. We would like to congratulate all students and schools on their achievements.

This article will be updated as further information is received from remaining schools who have not yet shared their successes.

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