Vast majority of young people think there should be a GCSE in sign language

Deaf charity finds that 97 per cent of 8-25 year-olds think sign language should be taught in schools

Helen Ward

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Almost all young people think British Sign Language (BSL) should be taught in schools, according to a new survey.

The National Deaf Children’s Society surveyed more than 2,000 deaf and hearing people, aged between eight and 25 and living across the UK, for its Right to Sign report.

The charity found 97 per cent of young people thought that the language should be taught and 92 per cent thought it should be offered as a GCSE.

It found that while 85 per cent of deaf people answering the survey wanted to learn more sign language, there was even more interest among those with hearing: 94 per cent were interested in increasing their skills.

'Most people miss out'

“School is a place to be social. We should learn different ways to be social. It’s just another way of communication so it should be more well known,” said one respondent to the survey when asked why they thought BSL should be taught in schools.

The charity has now launched a Right to Sign campaign, calling for BSL to be included on the National Curriculum.

“Everyone in the UK, deaf or hearing, should have the opportunity to learn BSL – but most people miss out as it’s rarely taught in schools and private lessons are expensive,” Susan Daniels, the chief executive of the society, says.

“If we are to break down barriers to learning BSL, it must be included on the National Curriculum. This survey shows that children and young people really want to learn BSL, so we urge the Department for Education to respond to this demand.”

The campaign is also calling for BSL to be offered as a GCSE or a National 4/5 in Scotland.

“BSL is one of the languages of the UK so it’s important that, as well as knowing other languages to communicate with people across seas, we can communicate with people in our own country,” said the NDCS’ youth advisory board member Erin, 16.

Schools given the option

BSL is used by around 70,000 deaf people in the UK.

A government spokesperson said: "British Sign Language was recognised as a language in its own right by the government in 2003.

"While it is not a mandatory part of the curriculum, schools are free to teach it if they choose to do so."

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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