GCSE in sign language to be offered as an option at all secondary schools in England from 2025

The new qualification will give pupils with the opportunity to learn how to "effectively communicate" using British Sign Language (BSL).

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 21st December 2023

All secondary school pupils in England will soon be able to do a GCSE in British Sign Language, the Government has confirmed.

The groundbreaking new GCSE will give pupils at schools nationwide – including those right across Greater Manchester – the opportunity to learn how to “effectively communicate” using British Sign Language (BSL).

Set to provide students with what the Government has dubbed “an important life skill”, and being introduced with the aim of “advancing inclusivity within education”, the news that the new qualification will be available from 2025 comes following a 12-week public consultation.

The Department for Education (DfE) says it received “overwhelmingly positive support” for introducing the new GCSE from parents, teachers and organisations from the deaf and hearing communities – with their responses from the consultation said to be going towards helping ensure the content of the qualification is “knowledge-rich, diverse in its teaching, and challenging”.

The Government is aiming for the BSL GCSE to have exam board syllabuses approved from the start of the academic term in September 2025.

A GCSE in sign language is to be offered as an option at all secondary schools in England / Credit:

In line with all other qualifications, the BSL GCSE will be open to all pupils, the Government has confirmed.

It will also be recognised and accepted in all school and college performance tables.


Set to be an internationally recognised qualification, the Government says that pupils who study the new BSL GCSE will get to develop ways of expressing and negotiating meaning through visual spatial language, as well effective communication and visual memory skills that will be an advantage to them for the rest of their lives.

As well as learning how to sign, the GCSE will also give students an understanding of the history of sign language in the UK to provide them with “a solid foundation” for understanding how the language reached its current form.

The new qualification will be available from the start of the academic term in September 2025 / Credit:

“Studying British Sign Language can open so many doors for young people,” commented Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, as the new qualification was announced this week.


“It will give pupils an understanding of how thousands of people communicate and ultimately even expanding job prospects.”

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Ms Keegan said the new qualification will “not only break down barriers and give young people valuable new skills”, but also “celebrate the history and rich culture of British Sign Language.”

Featured Image – Kevin Malik (via Pexels)