LIVE: For the latest updates on the coronavirus, follow our live blog.

The Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) secondary school exams, scheduled for May and June, have been rescheduled to July, and some other examinations have been cancelled, the Department of Education Services announced Friday.

City and Guilds examinations currently remain on schedule, but exams previously scheduled by Cambridge, AQA, WJEC and Pearson have been cancelled. Examination centres are awaiting the process for awarding grades for these exams, the DES advised.

The UK already announced that GCSE and A-Level exams would be scrapped this year.

CXC exams are the Caribbean equivalent of GCSEs and the most important exams for secondary school leavers. The results determine whether they can go on to further education and their chances in the future job market.

School principals across Cayman expressed sympathy for their students amid the upheaval but reassured them they were doing all they could to ensure they would be prepared for the exams in July.

The following changes have been announced regarding the May/June 2020 examinations schedule for CXC.

  • CXC has revised the exams schedule to July 2020.
  • In person or on-site moderation across all practical subjects is suspended until further notice.
  • Paper 1 for all exams will be delivered electronically, and the results will be used in conjunction with School Based Assessments (SBAs) to provide students with an assessed grade. The exceptions to this are Modern Languages, Visual Arts and Human and Social Biology.
  • Completion of SBA practicals have been rescheduled and schools will be advised of the revised deadline for submission.
  • Online resources geared towards exam preparation are available at learninghub.cxc.org; in addition, DES and the Ministry of Education are working with FLOW and One on One Educational Services Ltd in Jamaica to provide access to additional content.

Secondary school graduation dates will be rescheduled to ensure final exam grade reports are taken into consideration and recognised, the DES said in a statement issued on Friday.

“Without question, it is extremely unfortunate that several of our locally administered, external exams have been cancelled,” DES Acting Director Tammy Banks-DaCosta said in the statement. “From the onset of the drastic upset to all our lives, we have been actively engaged in fact-finding activities and discussions with the various examination bodies.

‘This includes meetings facilitated by CXC, which included other Ministries of Education across the region, to deliberate the best scenario for our students as it relates to the administration of examinations. While the changes CXC has implemented are different and may cause inconvenience, the takeaway is that examinations are still going ahead.”

In the statement, government secondary school principals encouraged students to remain positive, despite the disruptions caused to their schooling and exam schedules by the COVID-19 crisis.

“This has been an unprecedented year,” said Jon Clark, principal of John Gray High School. “We all need to continue to work in the best interest of our community. This is not an easy situation for all our students, and especially Year 11 students. Nonetheless, we will find ways to support them and maintain our positivity. The extended date for SBAs means that this must still be a priority and they must not stop working.

“The Paper 1 multiple choice paper being completed electronically can be managed. We have already trialed this and have completed exam work for CXC over the past two years.”

Richard Wildman, Clifton Hunter High School principal, said that, understandably, students may be anxious about external examinations and the changes proposed, but “we encourage you to remain focused and positive, you have been taught to be resilient and to demonstrate a growth mindset, this is the time to tap into your inner resolve and press on.”

He added, “Your parents and teachers are with you, guiding you towards the best outcomes. Finally, see each new day as one filled with God’s new mercies. Rest assured, our teachers will continue to actively engage with our students every day using the different distance learning modes.”

Devon Brown, acting principal of Layman E. Scott High School in Cayman Brac, also acknowledged the anxieties being experienced by students, but urged them to “be reassured in knowing that teachers, parents and the entire education fraternity are working to ensure continuity of your education journey. The provisions are in place to assist all our students with preparations for the scheduled external examinations.

“In this time, utilize what works best for you, stay on top by being organized and most importantly, take the very best care of your mental health and well-being in these challenging times.”

In the DES statement, Delores Thompson, director of Cayman Islands Further Education Centre, also offered some encouraging words, saying, “At the beginning of the school year, we shared with you that the biggest determinant of a person’s success isn’t IQ, family structure, income or participation in extra curricula activities. It is grit! Now is the time to demonstrate that grit.

“Team CIFEC, we’ve got this. Stay engaged with your teachers, keep working and reach out to us if you need anything.”

The DES statement said schools will provide further details to parents and students regarding exam arrangements.

Full coverage: Coronavirus

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.

Donate