The Deaf Academy has long campaigned for the government to add British Sign Language as a GCSE.

Today (December 21) it has been announced that British Sign Language is to be introduced as a qualification.

The Exmouth-based Academy is dedicated to empowering Deaf young people and has long campaigned and advocated for the recognition of British Sign Language (BSL) as a valuable and legitimate mode of communication.

Mark Stocks, partnership and community manager at the Deaf Academy, said: “This represents a significant step towards a more inclusive and understanding society. Everything we do is about preparing young people to access the wider community to be independent Deaf young adults and being able to access the world of employment, so for our students, it means their language and culture are officially recognised and valued.

“The advantages are not just for deaf and hearing-impaired people, but for society as a whole. It promotes inclusivity, fostering a learning environment that values and embraces diverse forms of communication. This decision also sends a powerful message about the importance of acknowledging and preserving linguistic heritage. In addition, it will raise awareness of Deaf culture and the richness and beauty of British Sign Language.”

Mark added: “It will ensure that Deaf children are not left behind and will help to reduce the feeling of isolation. It will also help to break down barriers in communication for the new generation, where they can have the opportunity to communicate independently instead of relying on phones, interpreters or support all of the time.”

The Deaf Academy provides high-quality education and support services to Deaf young people, the majority of whom have additional needs. The inclusion of BSL as a GCSE aligns with the academy's mission to empower students to achieve their full potential, both academically and personally.

This landmark decision by the government is expected to contribute to greater awareness and appreciation of sign language across the country. It opens doors for students to pursue further education and career opportunities, breaking down barriers and promoting a more inclusive society.

It is expected that the first students will be able to begin studying for a GSCE in BSL, which will also teach the history of the language in the UK, in September 2025.