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SQA developing British Sign Language awards

Author: Ella Leith, SQA

Last month, the Scottish Government published the British Sign Language (BSL) National Plan 2017-2023, in which a key goal is to increase the opportunities for pupils to learn BSL at school. To this end, the Scottish Qualifications Authority has begun the process of developing a suite of awards in BSL, making it an attractive language choice for schools and providing opportunities for progression into the senior phase of education.

At present, BSL can be taught as L3, but the opportunities to study at secondary level are limited. The new awards will offer the possibility of progression into secondary school and qualifications in the senior phase. The first awards will be at SCQF levels 3 and 4, with levels 5 and 6 added over the next few years. These awards will form the basis for any future development of BSL qualifications and if successful they could pave the way towards national courses in BSL.

The Qualifications Officer responsible for consulting and co-writing the award specifications is Dr Ella Leith, on secondment from Heriot-Watt University’s BSL Section. Ella has been busy consulting with BSL learners, tutors, teachers and other stakeholders, and travelling to schools across Scotland where BSL is currently being taught, including Garvel Deaf Centre at Moorfoot Primary, Clydeview Academy, and Dingwall Academy. At Dingwall, the students were keen to share their experiences of learning BSL and their hopes for future qualifications – a lot of enthusiasm and good practice to be found!

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