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13-year-old campaigns to make British Sign Language a GCSE

Daniel Jillings is working hard on a campaign to make sure British Sign Language becomes a GCSE. Credit: ITV Central

13-year-old Daniel Jillings is working hard on a campaign to try and make sure British Sign Language becomes a GCSE.

British Sign Language (BSL) is Daniel's first language, and while sign language lessons are already being introduced into some schools in the Midlands he says a BSL qualification at school would give him a chance to show his academic potential.

"It would give it more value and give it more importance and help people,' he said.

He added that "English children can achieve something in their language so why can't I do something in my language."

But while progress towards a qualification is being made, there's still work to do to make it a reality.

Signature, which offers courses in sign language have put forward proposals to the department for education for the GCSE.

Lindsay Foster, from Signature, says "we currently deliver 1 to 6 vocational qualifications in BSL so there is a large group of teachers across the country for ourselves and other awarding bodies but to rule it into schools... will be another step that we have to undertake."

Despite the steps that need to be taken to make the qualification a reality, charities hope to see action on the issue soon.

Sign language lessons are already being introduced into some schools in the Midlands. Credit: ITV Central

"As you know there are many other language GCSE's available - French, Spanish, Hebrew - all these languages, but BSL isn't [one] and we think that is unfair on deaf children and young people whose first language is British Sign Language."

– Sally Etchells from the National Deaf Children's Society

The government haven't said when the qualification could be approved but say they are working with exam body Ofqual.

We fully recognise the importance of a British Sign Language GCSE, and we are working on developing subject content.

If a qualification can be developed that fulfils the rigorous requirements that apply to all GCSEs, then the department will introduce it."

– Department for Education statement

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