A young boy went viral when his bid to make sign language a GCSE came out, and after taking on the government, the qualification could happen.
12-year-old Daniel Jillings raised the issue recently that there was no GCSE examination for his own language – sign language.
The young boy started a campaign to change the school curriculum, and have sign language introduced as a lesson in schools.
Daniel explained that the addition of BSL in schools would help the world become a more accessible and communicative place, benefiting deaf children like himself.
Daniel’s family agreed with the boy, and claimed the lack of sign language teaching was ‘discriminatory and unlawful’. To push for change, they created a legal challenge.
In the past, The Department for Education have said that there would be no new GCSEs introduced in this parliament. However, they may now be willing to make an ‘exception’.
Speaking about the case, reports the Metro, School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:
We will consider any proposals put forward for a GCSE in British Sign Language.
As we have made clear previously, any new GCSE would need to meet the rigorous standards set by both the Department and Ofqual.
If these expectations are met and a British Sign Language GCSE is ready to be introduced, we will then consider whether to make an exception to our general rule that there should be no new GCSEs in this parliament.
Daniel’s mother Ann explained her side of the story, saying that she just wanted her son and other people like him to feel more included in the system.
We are not asking for any special treatment, all we want is for Daniel and other deaf children across the country to be given the same opportunities as other pupils.
Alex Rook, the law expert who has been representing Daniel and his family through the case, expressed their delight at the fact that the government were considering their proposal.
Daniel’s family has always maintained that deaf children such as Daniel should be able to achieve a GCSE in BSL – his first language.
We are delighted that the Government has backed down from its original position as, at present, the lack of a BSL GCSE is having a major and unnecessary impact on thousands of children each year.
It is only right that any qualification should meet rigorous testing criteria set by the Department for Education.
However, this announcement is a major turning point and hopefully paves the way so children such as Daniel have access to the education they deserve.
Director of policy and campaigns at the National Deaf Children’s Society Steve Haines explained what the government’s potential change of heart meant for children like Daniel.
By no longer blocking the introduction of a GCSE in British Sign Language in this Parliament, the Government is sending a powerful signal to deaf children everywhere.
For so many of these children, being able to learn their first language at school is a vital move towards genuine equality.
This campaign isn’t over yet though. The Department for Education and the exam regulator Ofqual must to do everything they can to work with exam bodies to develop this GCSE as soon as possible.
For Daniel Jillings, and for so many of the 45,000 deaf children across the country who want to study a GCSE in British Sign Language, we need a proactive, positive attitude from the Government.
Anything less is a complete dereliction of duty.
There has been a lot of support for Daniel’s case, with over £6000 donated to his crowdfunding page for the cause.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.