Sign Language: Education

Department for Education written question – answered on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Labour, Slough

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the effect of the cost of learning British Sign Language on take-up of those courses among parents of deaf children.

Photo of Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Labour, Slough

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the availability of publicly funded British Sign Language courses for parents of deaf children.

Photo of Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Labour, Slough

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of providing funding through the adult education budget to parents of deaf children to learn British Sign Language.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan Government Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The government recognises that early access to language is essential to help children to learn and to thrive and it is vital that parents and carers are supported to communicate with the deaf and hearing-impaired children and young people that they care for.

The government currently provides funding for adult learners aged 19 and over to undertake British Sign Language (BSL) qualifications through the Adult Education Budget, up to and including level 2. BSL forms part of the local flexibility offer (non-statutory) and qualifications are either fully funded (if the learner is unemployed or participating in the low wage trial) or co-funded depending on the age, prior achievement and employment status of the learner. BSL qualifications at level 3 and above can be funded through an Advanced Learner Loan.

In addition, the government has funded the development of a family sign language programme, through the I-sign programme, which is freely available at the National Deaf Children’s Society family sign language website, which can be found at the following link: https://www.ndcs.org.uk/information-and-support/language-and-communication/sign-language/family-sign-language/.

The Children Act 1989 (as amended by the Children and Families Act 2014) requires local authorities to assess whether a parent carer within their area has need for social care support and, if so, what those needs are.

In relation to the assessment of the cost of learning British Sign Language on take-up of those courses among parents of deaf children, I refer the hon. Member to the answer the former Minister for Children and Families (Kemi Badenoch), my hon. Friend for Saffron Walden gave on 2 August 2019 to Question 280364.

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