Community Impact

Give us life skills, not theory

The 12-year old with a dream. Persistency and commitment drove a 5 year campaign for Daniel Jillings' goal for BSL being taught in schools a reality.

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“This is a significant moment in the history of the British deaf community, as it is a powerful step to equality.”

Hats off to Daniel Jillings as he deservedly reflects on his success of campaigning for BSL to become a GCSE option in UK schools. The 17-year-old started the campaign when he was 12 and has never given up. What an incredible moment for inclusion.

Despite now not being eligible for the GCSE himself, he has opened so many doors for younger people, both hearing and non-hearing. The bravery of the teenager cannot be understated – he delivered a heartfelt speech in a Parliament reception about the importance of raising awareness for the deaf community.

The decision is almost a no brainer, with staggering figures of 151,000 people using BSL, 87,000 being deaf it begs the question of why this wasn’t considered before.

It is another example of a younger, bolder generation demonstrating that with determination, passion and a positive message change can happen.

Mr Masterman, who uses BSL as his first language, also said it would help ensure “the deaf community, but especially deaf children and young people, don’t get left behind”.

Daniel Jillings has already set the bar high for 2024, but it’s exactly what our leaders needed. Start how we mean to go on!

There’s no doubt that millions of people question what gets taught in schools, the cliché of ‘When will we ever use this in life?’ rings around a school every minute of the day. Not theory or concept but practical life skills is what children are calling for today. What we can say is this moment might just be the kickstart of a change in the education system.

We aren’t disagreeing with the subjects on offer in schools, but it is hard to ignore the lack of teaching when it comes to learning about real life skills and knowledge. It might be as simple as fixing lightbulbs, or it could be as complicated as understanding tax if you are self-employed. The basics.

So what’s the next step?

We believe Jillings’ campaign has moved the dial for Inclusion with the education system and hopefully that’ll filter into the world of work as well. Everyone can learn BSL. We often forget that diversity and inclusion isn’t just race and gender – it’s age and disabilities too.

Even if you’re well past GCSE age like us, it’s never too late to learn something new that can make you a more inclusive person. We can all learn from each other.

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