A former Central College student has been instrumental in campaigning to ensure that British Sign Language (BSL) is recognised as an alternative to English in functional skills tests.
19 year old former GCSE student Max Buxton is deaf and is currently undertaking an apprenticeship at an electrical company in Heanor.
The developments came about after Graham Allen MP and the Buxton family campaigned for Max in conjunction with the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf and the National Deaf Children’s Society. This was brought about by recent policy changes which mean that the Skills Funding Agency don’t release funds beyond level two unless apprentice students complete functional skills level 1 in English. This blocks many young people like Max whose hearing loss means that written English is disproportionately difficult.
Skills Minister Robert Halfon confirmed that there will be a policy change to allow BSL qualifications to be accepted as an alternative to functional skills in English. This should be complete by the 2017-18 academic year, soon enough to benefit Max as well as many other apprentices for whom BSL is their first language.
Being deaf and dyslexic, it’s very difficult to translate BSL into English and for it all to make sense. I’m very pleased things are changing.Max Buxton
I am delighted that the Department for Education has announced that BSL will be recognised as a suitable alternative to English. This came as a result of me meeting with the then Skills Minister Nick Boles to ask that Max be allowed to progress in his apprenticeship by recognising BSL as a suitable alternative to English. This change will not only benefit Max but thousands of other people too.Graham Allen, MP
Max’s determination to succeed never diminished during his time with us. He was a model student and we wish him the very best for the future.Richard Baker, Communication Support Worker at Central College