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British Sign Language Courses

Volume 663: debated on Thursday 11 July 2019

2. What recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of the availability of British Sign Language courses. (911871)

A range of qualifications in BSL are available, but of course it is for schools and colleges to decide whether to offer these qualifications or other courses in BSL. The Department for Education is working to develop draft subject content for a potential GCSE in BSL.

Cheshire College South and West, in my constituency, has had to cancel the BSL courses altogether, due to cuts in the adult education budget. That pattern is being repeated all over the country, so may I urge the Minister to look carefully at the impact of the cuts his Government are implementing?

I am happy to meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss the particular issue regarding that college. He will be aware that the exam board Signature has a number of BSL qualifications at different levels. He will also know that the DFE funds the I-Sign project, which has developed a family sign language programme course, which is available online, and post-16 funding is of course a priority in the upcoming spending review.

I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous), as nobody in the Portcullis House atrium yesterday can have failed to have been moved by the signing choir, who performed to great acclaim. Will the Minister join me, the hon. Member for Waveney and the choir in calling for a GCSE in sign language?

I did enjoy meeting Daniel Jillingsā€™s mother, Ann, and I am only sorry that I could not go to the performance of the Lowestoft Signing Choir last night. The hon. Lady will know that in February the Department announced that it would begin the process of developing draft subject content for a GCSE in BSL, which will need to be considered against the requirements that apply to all GCSEs.