A GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL) could be introduced in the UK before the next general election after the Government’s Department for Education (DfE) reversed a decision to delay any new qualifications.
The reversal comes after Deaf schoolboy Daniel Jillings and his family campaigned for one to be available in time for him sitting his GCSEs. Lawyers representing the family argued that the lack of a GCSE in BSL may be “discriminatory and unlawful”. Their crowdfunding page raised more than £6,000 to help fund the legal challenge.
Speaking about the case, School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:
“We will consider any proposals put forward for a GCSE in British Sign Language.
As we have made clear previously, any new GCSE would need to meet the rigorous standards set by both the Department and Ofqual.
If these expectations are met and a British Sign Language GCSE is ready to be introduced, we will then consider whether to make an exception to our general rule that there should be no new GCSEs in this parliament.”
Agnes Dyab, Chair of the British Deaf Association, said:
“This is a move in the right direction thanks to the efforts of Daniel, his family and many others who have been making a case for GCSE in BSL. This qualification can benefit both Deaf and Hearing children and will facilitate communication between the deaf pupil and their hearing friends. This language could be practiced everyday in the playground, after clubs, or even on their free time, weekends and holidays and will promote understanding and awareness of BSL as a language.
Hearing children taking this qualification can potentially open up a career pathway to more choices for employment in not only the hearing community, but also in the deaf community in the future“
“With this breakthrough, I hope that we can now focus on the area of informed choices to promote and include BSL with newly diagnosed Deaf babies and upwards.”