Government open to new GCSE in British Sign Language following campaign

'This is a fantastic step in the right direction. The government has listened carefully to the powerful, passionate case made by deaf children'

The call for British Sign Language to be taught in schools was debated in the Commons earlier this year
The call for British Sign Language to be taught in schools was debated in the Commons earlier this year

The government is “open to considering” a new GCSE in British Sign Language following a campaign.

The National Deaf Children’s Society has hailed the policy change as “a fantastic step in the right direction” after 35,000 people signed a petition calling for the subject to be taught in schools.

Schools minister Nick Gibb originally said there were no plans to introduce a new qualification in secondary school as he argued “not everything that is taught in schools needs to be a GCSE”.

During a debate in the commons earlier this year, Mr Gibb warned MPs that a “huge number of steps” would have to be gone through to get a GCSE approved.

But now the minister has said that the government is willing to consider new proposals from exam bodies interested in developing the qualification in the future.

In a written answer to MP Peter Aldous, Mr Gibb said: “There are no plans to introduce any new GCSEs in this parliament, to allow schools a period of stability following the recent reforms.

“However, the government is open to considering a proposal for a British Sign Language (BSL) GCSE for possible introduction in the longer term.

“We have indicated this to Signature, the awarding organisation proposing to develop a GCSE in BSL, and the National Deaf Children’s Society.”

The call for British Sign Language to be taught in schools was debated in the Commons in March after a petition calling for it to be included in the curriculum was signed by 35,200 people.

It came after a survey by the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) last year revealed that almost all young people believed British Sign Language should be offered as a GCSE.

On the government’s move, Susan Daniels, the chief executive of the NDCS, said: “This is a fantastic step in the right direction.The government has listened carefully to the powerful, passionate case made by deaf children, young people and their parents.

“For so many deaf children, the ability to learn their first language at school is an essential move towards genuine equality.”

She added: “While we recognise how important today’s announcement is, we must be under no illusion that this will be a quick and easy process.

“Exam bodies like Signature must now work with the Department for Education and with Ofqual to trial, test and refine a new GCSE in British Sign Language.

“On top of this, we must not forget that for deaf children, this is just one of the challenges that so many of them face in their day to day lives.”

Earlier this month, the charity warned that millions of pounds of support for deaf children are being lost, leaving services at breaking point.

One in three councils is making cuts, according to the NDCS, which accused the government of “woeful complacency”.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in