‘It will break down barriers and open doors’: British Sign Language to be introduced as GCSE in England from 2025

21 December 2023, 07:27

British Sign Language is set to be introduced from 2025.
British Sign Language is set to be introduced from 2025. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

British Sign Language (BSL) will be introduced as a GCSE in England, the government has said.

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The qualification is set to be rolled out across schools from September 2025 and will be open to all pupils.

It comes after BSL was officially recognised as a language in the UK in 2022 after the British Sign Language Act was passed.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan hailed the move, as she said it will “open so many doors for young people”.

"Studying BSL can open so many doors for young people, giving pupils an understanding of how thousands of people communicate and ultimately even expanding job prospects,” she said.

"This new qualification will not only break down barriers and give young people valuable new skills, but also celebrate the history and rich culture of BSL."

The subject syllabus will be reviewed and accredited by exams regulator Ofqual before it is rolled out in schools.

Parents, teachers and organisations from the deaf and hearing communities took part in a 12-week consultation to help finalise the curriculum.

It will teach the history of sign language in the UK and how to effectively use BSL with some 1,000 signs.

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It comes after British Sign Language was recognised as a language in the UK.
It comes after British Sign Language was recognised as a language in the UK. Picture: Alamy

The move will be a massive victory for deaf schoolboy Daniel Jillings, 17, who has been campaigning for the qualification to be introduced since he was just 12-years-old.

Michael Hanton, deputy chief regulator of Ofqual, said: "We're grateful to those who engaged with our consultation, which was a crucial step forward for this new and important qualification.

"We will now begin the detailed regulatory work to ensure that the new GCSE in British Sign Language will be high quality and fair for students."

Susan Daniels, chief executive of the National Deaf Children's Society, said: "After more than a decade of campaigning for a GCSE in BSL we're delighted we now have the finalised course content published.

"A GCSE in BSL is vital as it will break down barriers and celebrate the rich culture and history of British Sign Language.

"An incredible amount of work has been undertaken to get to this point, not least from young deaf campaigner Daniel Jillings who fought so hard for the right to study a GCSE in BSL."

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