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Deaf children close in on Sign Language GCSE

Published Date: 13 Jun 2018

Deaf children are one step closer to a GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL) after a year-long campaign by deaf young people and the National Deaf Children’s Society.

The Department for Education have announced that:

  • The Government no longer objects to the development of a GCSE in British Sign Language, and are now willing to consider new proposals.
  • Both the Government and the exam’s regulator Ofqual are happy to review any proposals set out by exam bodies like Signature or others who want to develop this qualification.

This policy change comes after a year of campaigning, following a report released by the National Deaf Children’s Society showing that 92% of children – both hearing and deaf - thought there should be a GCSE in sign language. MP’s debated the issue in Parliament, with some even signing their support. Parents and deaf children also passionately made their case to Ministers about why they deserved equality of opportunity at school.

Responding to the Government’s announcement, Susan Daniels, the Chief Executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society today said: “This is a fantastic step in the right direction. The Government have 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.”

“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 BSL.

“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. From cuts to front line support services, to far too many deaf children failing to reach their potential, we need to be as clear-eyed and as hardnosed as ever no make sure no deaf child is left behind.”