12 year old’s legal campaign to have BSL as a GCSE

In a video to Metro, Daniel Jillings – a deaf 12-year old whose first language is British Sign Language – explained what his campaign was about.

Daniel Jillings has set up his own legal campaign to fight for a GCSE in British Sign Language. The campaign is receiving support through crowdfunding contributions on CrowdJustice.

In a few years, Daniel will be doing his GCSEs. Daniel can’t achieve a GCSE in additional languages such as French and Spanish because of the speaking and listening exams, and he’s not given the option to learn his own language as a GCSE.

His mother has spoken to lawyers, who have advised her that the lack of a GCSE in BSL may be discriminatory and unlawful. The lawyers Irwin Mitchell LLP are representing Daniel’s legal campaign, and have raised the following legal issues:

  • discrimination which contradicts the Equality Act 2010 and Human Rights Act 1998
  • breaches to the public sector’s duty for equality
  • the Secretary of State’s failure to have regard for the welfare of deaf children.

Irwin Michell LLP lawyers consider that the failure to introduce a GCSE in BSL as soon as possible can’t be justified by the government.

The government recently agreed to consider a GCSE in BSL in the future, but this is not a promise and doesn’t say how quickly it will be introduced. The government allegedly want to give schools a period of stability following the recent (and overall unwanted) restructure of GCSEs, which would mean no new GCSEs would be introduced for at least 4 years. This will be too late for Daniel and many other deaf pupils.

Daniel’s crowdfunding campaign aims to cover the initial legal costs to challenge the delay in introducing a GCSE in BSL. Click here to donate to the campaign.

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  • This old chestnut is still doing the rounds, despite the reality, there are no teaching staff to implement such a  course, the only alternatives would be other deaf who lack teaching skills and qualifications to enter educational establishments.  The real issue is such 'tutors' of BSL will reject the national English curriculum in favour of the cultural grammatical approaches making it difficult for deaf adults to work or progress, there are a finite amount of 'jobs for the boys in deaf areas' and it doesn't offer the deaf any real choice.  It is of paramount importance that the deaf child gets support in the mainstream, but a BSL course cannot be viable or preferable for the parent looking for the future of their deaf child. Any suggestion to re-isolate the deaf into annexe's or 'pseudo deaf schools has to be challenged, it failed before and will fail again.  You have to ask the questions do you want your deaf children educated for a life in what is the hearing world? or doom them to deaf-only areas and reliances instead?  A course as it stands serves no purpose, deaf need to find alternatives and additions to sign language or face a lifetime of difficulty.  10m HoH already manage without it so it can be done.  Deafened people also have learnt alternatives to signing and culture too, if we didn't we would never have held our own.  The stats don't bear out the need, very few deaf rely on sign language as a sole means of communication.  The BDA plucks stats out of the air to plug their cultural stand.  They were brought down to reality when the census didn't back their figures.  Literacy is all there are no alternatives.

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