The UK Government may introduce British Sign Language (BSL) as a GCSE thanks to one calculated deaf schoolboy. Daniel Jillings, 12, launched an online campaign for change – and the education department is taking notice.
The Department for Education (DfE) will now consider making an “exception” after Daniel’s family launched a legal challenge, saying the lack of a General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) duration in BSL may be “discriminatory and unlawful.” GSCEs are a qualification earned in a specific subject, typically taken by high school students aged 15–16, to qualify for the final two years of high school.
“There are many foreign language GCSEs available but as a Deaf BSL user, I cannot achieve a GCSE in these because of the speaking and listening exams,” Daniel wrote on his fundraising page. Daniel’s mother has consulted with lawyers who believe the lack on a BSL duration may equal discrimination and be against the law.
The addition of a BSL duration would allow deaf children like Daniel to take an extra language in lieu of the ones they are presently excluded from and will allow different students to learn BSL – making the community more inclusive of deaf people as a result. Previously, the DfE has said no new GCSEs would be introduced within this parliament, but it appears the UK public may witness one of those (quite common) backflips due to public pressure.
ATR: As regards to any confirmation from the DfE, they are still saying it may 'consider' in the future, there is no time-scales set and no promise of a BSL GCSE debate as yet. Those BSL areas suggesting a BSL norm at day one of education are not going to get it. This request is for 15-16yr old deaf youths.
ATR does not believe there is much point to this given the mainstream is still unwilling to accommodate BSL use and the supportive area to empower BSL use isn't there, or teachers trained, which means a class for GCSE may well not be viable either. Would we just see GCSE classes with just 2 or 3 deaf in them? and only in areas able to provide the staff to make it work? This article came via Wales (UK), which has already, a dire shortage OF BSL support on the street.
There are also challenges on BSL teaching where teaching staff of BSL lack the appropriate teaching qualifications of the curriculum. This is just opposed on cultural grounds, where advocates want to dispense with the grammar side of English, which means the young deaf would be better signers but still unable to access the college/Uni tuition because of issues reading the coursework.