Here’s a unique and innovative special needs school for children aged three to 18 that focuses on arts-based therapy to teach numeracy, literacy and independent living skills.
The school says:
“At MSIS, we discover and nurture the strengths of a child with special needs rather than focus on their disability. Every child should be valued as they have the potential to contribute to society.”
Founded in 2014, MSIS follows an Australian curriculum framework alongside a visual and performing arts and therapy services. Its focus is as much on the academic as it is on developing social and vocational skills to help young children become confident and independent adults.
It’s a small school of just 60 students and teacher to student ratios are a low 1:4, which you would expect at an SEN school. Teaching is delivered by a team of classroom teachers, specialist teachers in dance, music, art, and drama, and therapists including occupational, art, music, and speech therapists, plus physios and psychologists. Every student is given an individual learning programs that focuses on their specific needs.
MSIS follows the Victorian Curriculum Framework for foundation years through to Year 10. This is an Australian curriculum that enables teachers to identify a student’s current levels of achievement, and then deliver teaching and learning programmes to support progression in their learning. It has a reputation in Australia for supporting a diversity of learners, ranging from students with disabilities and additional learning needs to those who are gifted and talented.
The early years for children aged three to seven years focuses strongly on the Jolly Phonics programme; in Foundation 1, for six to 13-year-olds, Montessori-inspired activities play a key role in all learning; in Foundation 2, for eight to 13-year-olds, there’s an emphasis on reading, comprehension, critical thinking, writing, speaking, and listening. MSIS also offers pathway programmes into adulthood that focus on living skills and vocational training.
A typical day would cover English, maths, art, outdoor play and PE, social and life skills, and the performing arts. There are also swim lessons held at a nearby swimming pool, and weekly therapy sessions in the class with the option of 1:1 therapy if required.
Centrally located in Loewen Gardens near Dempsey Hill, MSIS is a small, single-storey building with eight classrooms. Facilities include a gymnasium, dance/music studio, sensory retreat and outdoor play area; the school uses a nearby swimming pool for lessons.
The school has a rolling admission process, and students are encouraged to spend a day ay the school before applying. Annual fees range from $24,042 for Pre-K up to $30,053 for Pathways Year 3 (10-13 years).
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