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The British Association of Teachers of Deaf Children and Young People (BATOD) is pleased to learn of British Sign Language (BSL) GCSE announcement. It is an important development in the education offer. The BSL GCSE should enable students in schools in England to acquire knowledge and understanding of the history and development of sign language as well as enhance their learning and use of the recognised language.

Martine Monksfield, Past President, states: “For a BSL GCSE to be offered to deaf and hearing young people in a mainstream secondary setting, it will open up doors for wider society to incorporate BSL into everyday life; the daily deaf awareness in these settings and for young people to go on to use BSL in further education, work and general society as second nature. This will make a huge impact on how BSL is viewed and respected as a language long-term in several ways”.

BATOD feels that in order to be able to offer this GCSE to as many students as possible, a fundamental starting point is the recruitment of suitably qualified BSL teachers. At present, there are a number of BSL tutors who teach BSL in the post-16 sector, many of whom are keen to teach the GCSE in BSL in secondary schools. BATOD is keen to see the steps to enable this to happen as well as to see training become available to Deaf and hearing people who are native / fluent in BSL to become GCSE BSL teachers.  This step will ensure students have access to Deaf BSL teachers with lived experience so they can learn and understand the nuances of BSL.
As with the number of qualified Teachers of Deaf Children and Young People, there will also be a need to have sustainable succession planning to recruit and retain suitable qualified BSL teachers.
BATOD looks forward to the continued engagement with the Department for Education (DfE) alongside the other key stakeholders: British Deaf Association (BDA), Association of British Sign Language Teachers and Assessors (ABSLTA), National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) and Signature.