Government Funding for BSL Courses in Colleges 2010-2011

A recent survey by the Association of Colleges shows that across England FE establishments are expecting an average cut in their Adult Learner Responsive budgets of 16%, with some colleges expecting a cut of as much as 25%.

Colleges are currently negotiating with the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to secure funding for the courses they plan to offer in the academic year 2010-2011. As the cuts bite, some of the colleges say that, without guaranteed priority funding they will, reluctantly, be unable to provide their BSL courses.

LSC has said that it will not cut funding relating to ‘essential’ courses. Clearly BSL courses are essential as they are the foundation to make sure that more people are able to train as the Communication Support Workers and interpreters of the future.

Signature BSL qualifications meet with government priority funding criteria:

  • Signature Level 1 Award in British Sign Language meets the criteria of the Foundation Learning Element of the Adult Learner Responsive funding.
  • Signature Level 2 Certificate in British Sign Language has Sector Skills Body approval as a ‘Full Level 2’ qualification – some have experienced technical difficulties accessing that information on the Learning Aims Database. If you do, please contact – your Signature customer support officer will be able to provide evidence that the qualification is supported as a Full Level 2 if required.
  • Signature Level 3 and Level 4 British Sign Language qualifications are considered ‘Full’ qualifications and are therefore eligible for priority funding.

Jim Edwards, Signature Chief Executive said, “We understand that the ultimate decision of whether or not to continue including BSL in the curriculum offer lies with the individual college and every college should have access to the funding they need to continue their excellent provision. That’s why I’ve written to Kevin Brennan MP, Minister for Further Education and Skills, to ask for an urgent meeting to clarify the funding situation.

“A college’s BSL provision is important. It provides employment opportunities for Deaf people as teachers and creates a direct link between the college and the local Deaf community who are classic hard-to-reach learners. The courses themselves result in a local language skills base that can support those Deaf adult learners in the classroom and beyond into employment. Losing local provision of BSL courses has a long-term, adverse effect on our ability to achieve Deaf equality.

“At Signature we are doing all we can to make sure BSL colleges have the support they need to continue this important work.”

Jim Edwards’ letter to Kevin Brennan MP, Minister for Further Education and Skills, can be seen here (BSL video).

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