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MSI (Multi Sensory Impairment) Department

Children with multi-sensory impairments (MSI) have hearing and visual impairments, often with other disabilities, which hugely affect their learning and communication.

At the Victoria MSI Unit, pupils follow a specialist curriculum to help them learn to understand and interact with people and the world around them. We have very high levels of staffing - 1:1 for many activities - and of expertise, with ongoing specialist training for all staff. Our curriculum was developed at Victoria to meet the complex needs of pupils with MSI. It was published in 2009 by Sense, and is now used in a number of other settings and services for children with MSI.

The Unit is a regional resource, established in the mid-1990s and educating up to 15 children with MSI from Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall. We take pupils from 2-19, with varying combinations of hearing and visual impairments and other difficulties which mean they need a specialist environment in order to thrive. We look for pupils to have some degree of independent movement, so that they can explore and act on their environment.

Each pupil has an individual timetable and teaching programme, based on their specific learning needs and interests. They work with a limited number of staff, who are skilled in 'reading' their signals and encouraging their communication and curiosity. We use whatever communication approaches best suit each child – speech, signing, object or picture symbols, switches, gesture, movement signals – presented as clearly as possible. If signing is used, for example, it may be on-body or accessed visually or through hand-under-hand touch. It depends on the child’s needs and preferences.

We provide a secure learning environment for pupils with a rich range of experiences and opportunities. The pictures below show a mix of group and individual work; the use of different communication approaches for pupils to make choices, learn and understand; some class-based sessions and some using other parts of the school and outdoors; the use of low-tech and high-tech equipment; the ongoing assessment of pupils’ use of hearing, vision and touch, and – most of all – pupils having fun and wanting to learn!

Some pupils are regularly included in main school or other local special schools for specific sessions; all have the opportunity to participate in school-wide art and music workshops and performances. We also use community facilities, with regular trips out to extend learning. Pupils aged 14-19 also work towards ASDAN accreditation like the pupils in main school.

We have strong links with the local sensory support services, with the University of Birmingham, which provides a mandatory two-year specialist qualification in MSI for teachers, with Sense and with specialist MSI services elsewhere in the country. These links help us to stay up-to-date and to contribute to the wider MSI field.


Read about our Curriculum for Multi-Sensory Impaired children on the web page below:


Getting fit at the outdoor gym.
A daily greeting song.

A pupil's individual space.

Exploring the xylophone.
Signing 'monkey'.

Literact activities on the iPad.
Our big weekly drumming session.

Reading a book with switches.
Signing hand-under-hand.

Very messy play!
Using a switch to say 'No! No!' in drama.

Using a Wowee to feel the sound.