GCSE in BSL for English schools?

Contrary to the inaccurate reports that have appeared elsewhere, the Government is not about to start teaching BSL in schools. In fact it may never happen. It definitely won't happen for some years.
This is what the Government Minister for Education actually said, please note the very first sentence. 

Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

There are no plans to introduce any new GCSEs in this Parliament, to allow schools a period of stability following the recent reforms. However, the Government is open to considering a proposal for a British Sign Language (BSL) GCSE for possible introduction in the longer term. We have indicated this to Signature, the awarding organisation proposing to develop a GCSE in BSL, and the National Deaf Children’s Society.

Any new GCSE would need to meet the rigorous expectations for subject content, which are set by the Department for Education. It would also need to meet the expectations for assessment and regulatory requirements, which are set by Ofqual, the independent qualifications regulator. The Department and Ofqual will consider carefully any proposals put forward in due course.

Mr Gibb also attended a debate in Westminster Hall on March 5th where he said

Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

As I said, we value BSL. However, a huge number of steps would have to be gone through for the BSL qualification to be accredited as a GCSE. Having been through it, I can say that it is not a simple process to get qualifications accredited. There are existing level 2 qualifications; GCSEs are level 2. There are existing BSL qualifications of high quality available that can be taught in schools. BSL is not a GCSE subject, but as I said, many subjects taught in schools are not GCSE subjects and none the less are valued by schools and by those who take the qualifications.

We recognise that some who wish to take a qualification in BSL will do so to communicate with a family member or friend. Indeed, many of those in most need are hearing parents of deaf children. We understand that early access to language is essential to help children to learn and thrive and it is vital that families have the support that they need to communicate with their children. The Department has provided funding for the development of a support guide to help parents of deaf children. Families or carers may also be eligible for support to learn sign language. The Department has provided funding for the I-Sign project to develop a family sign language programme, which is available online.

We believe that all young people should be helped to achieve their potential, regardless of their background or circumstances. More than 21,000 children with a hearing impairment are supported at school. We are proud that 93% of hearing impaired children are supported to attend a mainstream school. Pupils who use sign language are generally provided with support at school through specialist teaching assistants and specialist teachers of the deaf. However, we do not prescribe how schools should support pupils with a hearing impairment.

We have made it clear in the special educational needs and disability code of practice that all schools must use their best endeavours to make suitable provision available for all children of school age with special educational needs or disabilities. The reasonable adjustments duty for schools and local authorities includes a duty to provide supporting aids and services for disabled pupils. That could include things such as radio aids or communication support workers. In addition, the local authority can support parents and children in developing the knowledge that they need to communicate effectively.

When the time comes for pupils to take examinations, schools and colleges are responsible for ensuring that reasonable adjustments are made for pupils to make exams more accessible. Common arrangements include extra time and the use of scribes and readers and of word processors. More deaf children than ever are leaving school with good GCSEs, and we want them to continue to aspire to reach their full potential. Statistics show that attainment in English and maths for that group has been improving in recent years. The proportion of children with a hearing impairment achieving a standard pass—at grade 4 or above—in English and maths GCSE has increased by 6 percentage points compared with passes at C or above in 2011. We are very proud of that improvement.

And yet still people keep asking for the same thing, over and over again.

It's not going to happen, people. Get real. There are 8 million schoolchildren in this country and nearly 25,000 schools. That's 25,000 BSL classes that will need to be organised. This will take years even given that the Government has promised to "consider" proposals.

  • It's the same source area (BDA), that stated BSL was officially recognised in the UK in 2005, what happened was the EU issued a declaration of it, along with 7 other recognitions of minority languages, but the UK was not obliged to install it as a right in education and never did.  These people keep publishing these things without reading them, but the last Debate/discussion on it in Westminster turned BSL down as a curriculum class.  By far the rights lobby is way behind realism in that the staff to implement such a course is neither available or trained.  The Deaf lobby was hoping jobs for the deaf boys could do it, but again fell foul of the teaching qualifications because they rejected English claiming deaf don't read or understand it, which was rather outrageously false a claim, and raised concern with parents of deaf children and students.  There are deaf adults who 'PREFER' not to follow English but to state they cannot was untrue.  There were concerns the BSL lobby was deliberately undermining the deaf child's access in the blind pursuit of culture and wanted to create a future deaf world where all were dependent on interpreter support, another issue in that the interpreters cannot support the present adult population let alone run a nation-wide curriculum of BSL, the teachers aren't there, it would take 15 years to set up a partial BSL educational area, and restricted then to over 16s...  What they also fail to state is they intend to overrule parental preferences, and worse refuse to include them in debates.

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