British Sign Language GCSE set for launch in 2025

Over the Christmas break the Department for Education (DfE) published the subject content for the long-awaited GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL). The DfE says that parents, teachers and organisations from the deaf and hearing communities provided ‘overwhelmingly positive support’ for the introduction of a BSL GCSE in a recent consultation. With the aim to have exam board syllabuses approved from September 2025, the BSL GCSE will teach students to effectively communicate using BSL and provide an understanding of the history of BSL in the UK. It will be open to all pupils and be recognised and accepted in school and college performance tables.

By the end of the GCSE, students will be ‘expected to know at least 750 signs from the established lexicon’. An advisory vocabulary list for exam boards contains a range of basic verbs, adjectives and adverbs, as well as words like clothing names, sports, countries, food and drink and animals. Also included are  words for months of the year, days of the week, cities in the UK, and phrases such as ‘good evening’ and ‘what did you say?’.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan commented: ‘This new qualification will not only break down barriers and give young people valuable new skills, but also celebrate the history and rich culture of British Sign Language.’

Chief Executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, Susan Daniels OBE said: ‘After more than a decade of campaigning for a GCSE in British Sign Language (BSL) we’re delighted we now have the finalised course content published. A GCSE in BSL is vital as it will break down barriers and celebrate the rich culture and history of British Sign Language. An incredible amount of work has been undertaken to get to this point, not least from young deaf campaigner Daniel Jillings who fought so hard for the right to study a GCSE in BSL.’

The full subject content can be found at:

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