Progress on introduction of British sign language GCSE


A British sign language (BSL) GCSE will be introduced “as soon as possible”, ministers have claimed.

Schools minister Nick Gibb has said that a consultation on draft content will take place in 2020 and that the Department for Education is “working with subject experts” to decide what the GCSE should look like.

Mr Gibb said the government was open to creating a BSL GCSE in May 2018, although it was suggested its introduction would wait until 2022 – at that point, the time of the next election.

Amid calls for another election in the foreseeable future, he has now hinted that a new BSL qualification could be just around the corner in a response to a Parliamentary written question.

“The government is aiming to introduce a GCSE in British sign language as soon as possible, so long as it proves possible to develop a qualification that meets the rigorous requirements that apply to all GCSEs,” he said.

“The department will be working with Ofqual to ensure that the subject content can be assessed appropriately and will be working with stakeholders to ensure a wide range of views are reflected.”

Mr Gibb explained that once the subject content is finalised, it will be up to awarding organisations to decide whether to develop a specification and get it accredited.

A campaign by the family of 12-year-old Daniel Jillings, from Suffolk, has played a part in driving the government’s change of approach.

His family raised thousands of pounds via crowdfunding to fight for his right to take a BSL exam alongside his other GCSEs.

Previously, Mr Gibb has said the government would need to overcome a significant number of hurdles for current BSL qualifications to gain GCSE accreditation.

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