We recently reported about the shake up to GCSEs which is due in 2017; we’ve also been reading a lot recently about the excellent idea of introducing a BSL GCSE in schools.  Here’s a round up of links and articles on this hot topic.

Signature are now preparing the BSL GCSE Pilot and have announced the six pilot schools.

As a bit of background, here’s a BBC news article from 2013 picking up on the original Signature announcement, and the Signature response.


Announcement of the scheme has received support from the Deaf and blogging community:

Sarah Ismail is a blogger and disability rights campaigner who edits her personal blog, Same Difference, which covers disability issues big and small. She was interested to note that: “a modern language is defined, in England, as a language that can be spoken or written. Since BSL does not have a written vocabulary, it cannot currently be classed as a modern language under that definition.

However, deaf awareness charity Signature points out that sign language is included on the education curriculum in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Swedish students can study Swedish sign language at GCSE level.”

Deaf lifestyle blogger Liam O’Dell, who blogs at The Life of a Thinker, is backing the Signature campaign, saying “I’ve always wanted to learn BSL to communicate with friends,” said Liam. “But it’s just as important for hearing people that they learn BSL, too.”

Meanwhile, Dexperience, or Deaf Ex-Mainstreamers, an organisation set up to support Deaf people who attend mainstream schools, support the provision of BSL as a national curriculum subject to GCSE Level, as they point out: “the law is not meeting the needs of most Deaf children”.

Deaf Parents Deaf Children, a group for Deaf parents with Deaf children all over the UK, point out that not only would the BSL GCSE be a foundation for the Sign Language interpreters of tomorrow, “The learners of today will take their BSL skills with them when they become nurses, entrepreneurs, athletes, civil servants, politicians, teachers, volunteers…”


Over in Wales, DEFFO is launching a petition to urge the Welsh Government to add BSL to the National Curriculum so that Deaf children and their hearing peers would have the change to gain a GCSE in BSL.


Although it didn’t win, the Signature scheme was shortlisted for “Pitch to Rich”, a fund which gives entrepreneurs from around the UK the chance to win a start-up investment from Richard Branson.

Most recently the campaign has won a boost with funding coming from the Freemasons Charity.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the idea of introducing a BSL GCSE. Let us know what you think, and we’ll publish a follow up post with your comments.