On Monday there was a response from Nick Gibb to a written question set out by Daisy Cooper who is the Liberal Democratic Education spokesperson. The question related to British Sign Language (BSL) in education settings. Although that question did not have any obvious connection to todays Global Educational Summit it was very clear that this theme has a bearing not only on English educational sector but it is much wider. The comment from Boris Johnson this morning on twitter was “Improving education is the best way for countries to #BuildBackBetter from the pandemic. At today’s Global Education Summit, I’ll be urging leaders to #FundEducation so young people around the world get the opportunities they deserve. @GPforEducation #GES2021” and it is certainly clear that the BSL is one of the clear ways of improving education in the UK. Unfortunately although Nick Gibb did refer to a call from “The Department (DFE) plans to consult publicly in due course” there is no indication what due course means. Let us hope that his Department will set out a more specific set of responses very soon. So here is the question and answer from Daisy and Nick. Let us hope that things will improve in the near future.
DC: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allowing students to study British Sign Language as a language option in Key Stage 3.
NG: The Government has recognised British Sign Language (BSL) as a language since 2003. BSL is not a compulsory part of the National Curriculum, although schools are free to offer BSL as part of their wider school curriculum or as part of a varied programme of extra-curricular activities. Some schools may also offer accredited BSL qualifications to support pupils’ achievements in the language. The Department is aiming to introduce a GCSE in BSL as soon as possible, provided it meets the rigorous requirements that apply to all GCSEs. Officials are currently working closely with subject experts and Ofqual to develop draft subject content. The Department plans to consult publicly in due course. Officials are also engaging with Ofqual to ensure the subject content can be assessed appropriately and will be working with stakeholders to ensure that a wide range of views is reflected.