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Covid restrictions force private schools to cancel exams

The island’s private schools have announced the cancellation of this year’s IGCSE and International Baccalaureate exams in the face of ongoing restrictions against Covid-19.

Public schools earlier this month had the Cambridge Checkpoint exams called off for P6 students, while the IGCSE was pulled for senior school students.

Public senior students will instead have assessed grades sent by their schools to Cambridge International, the examining body in Britain.

Bermuda High School, Saltus, Somersfield and Warwick Academy followed suit today, with all announcing they would assess students internally as an alternative to the exams.

Linda Parker, head of school at BHS, announced to parents that Cambridge had called off the IGCSE for Bermuda.

Ms Parker said the school would detail alternative grading methods in the days ahead.

In lieu of the IGCSE, grades will be “based on a variety of evidence assembled over the last year, such as mock exams, coursework and assessments”, while the IB students’ final grade will be drawn up from their internal assessments and predicted grades.

Deryn Lavell, principal at Saltus, echoed the news on IGCSEs being postponed for Bermuda. Saltus will switch to school-assessed grades.

Ms Lavell said the school’s grading would be in line Pearson Edexel qualifications, which are administered by the British examination body Pearson plc.

She added that the Advanced Placement examinations, offered from the United States, could be sat online by students, and Saltus might be able to offer AP exams in person next month.

At Somersfield Academy, head of school Carlos Symonds said the school was “ready to pivot” to a “non-examination route” for its diploma and “alternative assessment tasks” for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and IB.

Mr Symonds added: “While this is not the way we had planned on ending the two-year journey of our first cohort of diploma graduates, please be reassured that our students will not be disadvantaged by this.

“Many schools worldwide are following the ’non-exam route’, and the IB has guaranteed to provide ’fair and valuable certification to all students, irrespective of whether the school is able to run examinations or not’.”

Dave Horan, principal at Warwick Academy, also said the school would use internal assessment in lieu of students sitting both the IGCSE and IB.

Mr Horan said the school planned to stay closed beyond next Monday and could give no fixed date of return for students.

“Cambridge have informed us that they have cancelled all IGCSE examinations in Bermuda on the back of the Health Department's decision to mandate school closures, ” he said.

“Whilst disappointing, we recognise that safety comes first and that we are prepared to switch to school assessed grades as the means of final assessment.”

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Published April 21, 2021 at 4:19 pm (Updated April 21, 2021 at 4:20 pm)

Covid restrictions force private schools to cancel exams

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