Specialist Curriculum-MSI

A Curriculum for Children with Multisensory Impairment (MSI)

In 2009, a new curriculum was published from the Victoria School, Birmingham, specifically for children with multisensory impairment (MSI).

Staff at Linden Lodge visited the Victoria School, spoke with the author of the curriculum and studied it. It was felt that it could be a very useful tool when working with children with complex sensory difficulties. It was devised specifically for children with multi-sensory-impairments but has a great deal that also seemed relevant and exciting for other children with complex sensory issues.

In September 2010 it was decided to trial and develop this curriculum in a class in Linden Lodge.

In September 2012 Linden Lodge developed a distinct provision within primary for students who are deafblind/MSI. The Alba Centre was opened by Jan Van Dijk-a pioneer in the education of deafblindness expert practitioner, researcher and advocate in the field of deafblindness.

The Victoria School MSI Curriculum

The Victoria School MSI curriculum is divided into eight areas or domains of learning. These domains of learning are mapped across to national curriculum subject as can be seen in the table below.

MSI Domains of learning

National Curriculum

Social relationships and emotional development




Conceptual development


Sensory responses


Understanding of time and place


Ownership of learning


Responses to routine and change

Orientation, Movement and Mobility Geography

The curriculum has four phases of development and children are assessed as being in one of four phases depending on their developmental level.

Pupils accessing the curriculum will range between P levels 1 and 8. The curriculum provides the awareness, experience and learning skills they will require to access the National curriculum.

The curriculum emphasises learning rooted in pupils’ own direct experience, thus ensuring relevance, it is individualised and flexible to ensure a balance of appropriate activities that meet the individuals needs based on a profile of ability and disability. It is cross curricular in nature to encourage the generalisation of skills.

The curriculum teaches pupils how to interact with and understand the world and provide them with strategies for learning which can include making the best use of their residual vision and hearing.

It is a developmental curriculum, assisting in areas where deafblind children are at a particular disadvantage and emphasises the interaction between the individual and the environment.


Assessment of progress within and across phases of the MSI Victoria School Curriculum.


The progress of pupils within each curriculum phase is recorded using the phase profile. The profile consists of ‘typical achievements’ and for each achievement there is 3 levels of mastery as described below.


A - Aware

The pupil shows signs of being ready to learn this ability – for example, s/he is attentive although not yet active: s/he has relevant pre-knowledge; s/he has fleetingly used the ability on some occasions.

S - achieved in specific context

The pupil consistently uses the ability in some, but not in all relevant situations in which it could be used

G- Generalised

The pupil consistently uses the ability in all appropriate situations, although s/he may need prompting in unfamiliar settings or activities.

Pupils working on the MSI curriculum at Linden Lodge are assessed against the profile achievements on a half termly basis by the class teachers based on on-going class observation and assessment. The profile summary sheets have been taken with permission from the Victoria School MSI Unit Curriculum and adapted by Linden Lodge. The summary sheets are used to show pupil's overall progress within a particular phase, tracking progression on each of the profile statements for each of the eight curriculum areas. The numbers seen on the chart correspond to the achievement statement number in the profiles and are best understood alongside the phase profiles. The letters 'A' (Aware) 'S' (achieved in specific context) and 'G' (Generalised) refer to the level of mastery to which these achievement statements have been reached.

The summary sheets show progression through the phase. On entry to the curriculum pupils have an assessment period of a half term. Using the phase descriptors pupils are then phased and assessed using the profile achievement statements for that phase.

The number of achievement statements in each domain of learning that have been generalised are added up and a percentage is calculated to give a baseline of the pupils’ progression. At the end of every academic year this process is then repeated and a new percentage is calculate for all the achievement statements generalised in each domain of learning

  • A percentage of up to 30% can be considered low in the phase
  • A percentage of up to 60% can be considered to be working on the phase
  • A percentage of up to 90% can be considered to be secure in that phase. They may already be working on aspects of the higher phase and will progress through to the next phase.

The curriculum offers a guide to corresponding phases to the national curriculum P Levels.

The curriculum suggests that ‘MSI is linked to particular patterns of learning and development. Exact equivalences are not possible but approximate links to stages of communicative development and P levels are given’. These are shown below.

MSI Unit Curriculum

Communicative Stage

P Level range

Phase 1


P1(i) – P2(ii)

Phase 2

intentional non symbolic

P2(i) – P3(ii)

Phase 3

Early symbolic

P3(ii) – P6

Phase 4


P5 – P8

Using the phase descriptors, individual summary sheet and assessment data alongside P level descriptors, is possible to determine a best fit P level for pupils working on the MSI curriculum.

For deafblind/MSI students in other classes within Linden Lodge the MSI teacher and class teacher can work together to assess the pupil using the phase profiles and P Levels.