Exams

British Sign Language GCSE closer to reality as consultation launches

DfE aiming for first teaching of new qualification from 2025

DfE aiming for first teaching of new qualification from 2025

The long-awaited introduction of a British Sign Language GCSE has moved one step closer to reality after the government launched a consultation on course content.

Ministers said the qualification, which they hope will be taught from 2025, will help students “communicate effectively with other signers for use in work, social and academic settings, providing them with valuable life skills welcomed by employers”.

Deaf charities and other campaigners have been calling for a BSL GCSE for years, and the government has been planning to introduce one for around five years, but with little progress.

Education secretary Gillian Keegan said it was ” fantastic that British Sign Language will soon be taught in schools up and down the country”

“Good communication is essential both inside and outside the workplace and this historic GCSE will give students a vital life skill valued by employers.  

“This new qualification will break down barriers, advance equality of opportunity, and celebrate the history and rich culture of British Sign Language.”

The Department for Education said it had been “working closely with subject experts, stakeholders and schools to develop proposed content to ensure that this new GCSE is internationally recognised and accepted in school and college performance tables”.

“In line with our expectations for all qualifications, the GCSE will be knowledge-rich, diverse and as challenging as any other GCSE.”

Views on the new qualification, “including the language skills to be studied and the role of history, are being sought from teachers, employers and the deaf and hearing communities”.

The government is aiming to introduce the qualification for first teaching from September 2025.

‘Tell us what you think’

Dr Jo Saxton, chief regulator at Ofqual, said qualifications were meant to “increase opportunities and break down barriers”.

“This GCSE in British Sign Language will do that by encouraging more people to study the language, so I’m delighted to be launching our consultation on how students should be assessed in this exciting new GCSE.

Dr Jo Saxton
Dr Jo Saxton

“We want anyone with an interest in this new GCSE subject to tell us what they think about our proposals and whether these allow students the best opportunity to show how well they understand and can use British Sign Language.”

The announcement was welcomed by Susan Daniels, chief executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society.

She said BSL was a “native British language used by tens of thousands of people, so it’s only fair and right that BSL users should have the opportunity to achieve a GCSE in their own, legally recognised language”.

As well as learning how to sign effectively, the GCSE “will also give students an understanding of the history of sign language in the UK”.

“This will provide a solid foundation for students’ understanding of how the language has reached its current form,” the DfE said.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks.

More from this theme

Exams

‘Change on an unprecedented scale’: Ofqual responds to ABS plans

Qualifications reform risks more exams, 'unregulated' A-levels and students unprepared for higher study, says exams regulator

Freddie Whittaker
Exams

Hacking homework for exam breach suspect

A 16-year-old boy has been cautioned in connection with an exam board cyber attack

Samantha Booth
Exams

Deprived schools more likely to see progress 8 scores fall

Analysis comes as Covid impact and potential Labour changes may spell end to measure in its current form

Freddie Whittaker
Exams

Progress 8 pause: Heads call for wider review

But some heads have warned the sector could creep back to GCSE pass grades being the accountability 'king'

Samantha Booth
Exams

No school progress measure for next two years

The Department for Education had explored alternative options, but concluded there is 'no replacement' for progress 8 measure

Samantha Booth
Exams

Unions: ‘Clunky’ advanced British standard risks ‘blunt choice’ for pupils

Ministers accused of 'putting the cart before the horse' with 16-19 reform plans

Freddie Whittaker

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *