BSL Petition for Parliament
Sign our petition asking that the Government change the National Curriculum to include British Sign Language.
We are campaigning that BSL be added as a language option to the Key Stage 2 (Junior) National Curriculum so schools can choose to teach it rather than a Modern Foreign Language.
As Part of UK Parliament Week 2023 (6-12th November), the children of Park View Primary voted that this was the issue we wanted to put to Parliament. We believe that our children need to experience using their voices and engage with the democratic systems of the UK.
As a school with a Resourced Provision for Deaf Children, we have several pupils who use BSL as a primary form of communication and BSL is a regular feature of school life. We daily experience first hand the value BSL offers, not only to the children from the resource provision but the majority of our students.
Please see the comments from our children in support of teaching BSL:
Additional arguments in favour of the petition:
Some data suggests that over 150,000 people use BSL as their primary or preferred language, with thousands more using the language in their daily life - for work or communicating with friends and family. For reference click here
The BSL Act 2022 recognised BSL as a language for England, Scotland and Wales.
As more children who have English as an Addition Language and/or have barriers to their learning, including verbal communication, enter mainstream schools, BSL offers a valuable skill and resource that can support all children.
Currently, if a school chooses to teach BSL, this should be in addition to a foreign language. Schools already face a squeeze on the time available to teach the breadth of the curriculum. In schools that opt to include BSL, they are unlikely to cover it in the depth and quality they would like.
If the government were to allow BSL to be taught within the framework of the National Curriculum, it would enable schools to teach it rather than a foreign language. Giving the schools addition time to teach BSL to the desired high standards.
We believe teaching BSL has the following benefits:
- Schools that teach BSL create a more inclusive and welcoming community that caters to a wider range of people, including deaf people and their families.
- Following the BSL Act 2022 and the requirement of Government departments to consider the needs of Deaf people, it is reasonable that schools would want to raise awareness for the language and support their pupils to learn it.
- Provides an additional form of communication within the school that can support the learning of all children.
- Develop additional communication avenues between deaf children, children with communication needs and their peers.
- Place the children on a path that can lead to qualifications (possibly while still in Primary school) and future careers.
- As BSL is being used alongside various media platforms, wider exposure to the language can be integrated across the curriculum and provide better opportunities for practice.
- Charities and various organisations provide easy to access BSL training programmes and resources. Up-levelling all teachers within a school to teach BSL is achievable and also allows for meaningful continuous professional development for all staff.
- As BSL will be available as a GCSE from September 2025, providing Primary Schools with the scope to offer it as part of the National Curriculum, will put thousands of children on a track to succeed and gain a GCSE.
While we understand the positive impact that learning a foreign can have on children, we feel the limitations to teaching MFL in our school are:
- Children who do not have English as the main language at home, rarely speak the language that is being taught in schools. We are then expecting children to learn a third or fourth language.
- Children do not have exposure to the foreign language beyond the lesson meaning it is harder to remember and recall.
- In many schools, families or the children have little resources to consider visiting foreign countries and putting the language skills to use.
- Few schools have teachers who are specialists or fluent teachers in the foreign language.
- Non-specialists are unable to pronounce the words accurately nor understand the grammatical features required in the foreign language.
- When children transition to secondary school, they do not always continue the language they started at Primary school.
Thank you for taking the time to read why we would like the Government to amend the National Curriculum so that we, and schools like us, could choose BSL as our additional language - giving us the time and resources to teach it to our desired high standard.