British Sign Language

March 2018

BSL is incredibly important, and I read these proposals with great interest.

I know there were attempts to get BSL within the modern foreign language group of subjects, in the national curriculum, and that, unfortunately, due to a certain number of requirements that needed to be met, this was not possible.

This does not mean, however, that BLS cannot be a rigorous and challenging subject which schools might choose to teach in addition to foreign languages. The Department for Education has previously supported schools that choose to teach it by funding projects such as I-Sign, which aimed to improve the skills and qualifications of support workers in schools who help pupils using sign language.

As more schools become academies, less will remain dependent on the national curriculum. In academies, teachers will have the freedom to use their experience and skills to design their own programmes. This will allow them to innovate beyond the academic core set out in the curriculum, and include the teaching of BLS if they wish.

I am also encouraged that, for the first time, BLS will be accepted as a qualification in English for apprentices where it is their first language. This further underlines how barriers are being broken down to ensure people who use BSL can obtain the skills they need.