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Portage for pre-schoolers with learning difficulties


Portage is a home-visiting educational service for pre-school children with developmental delay and additional needs.

Get a referral

Children can have portage if:

  • they are in the lowest fifth percentile in three or more developmental areas of a Ruth Griffiths Development Assessment made by a community paediatrician
  • they are two sections below chronological age in three or more developmental areas on the Schedule of Growing Skills
  • they have Downs Syndrome

Community paediatricians and health visitors make referrals to the Educational Psychology Service and Portage Service via the Early Years Panel. Referrals are accepted following written parental consent to work with the portage advisor at home.

What happens in portage

  1. The portage advisor and early years educational psychologist make an initial visit to the child and its family.
  2. Depending on individual circumstances, visits are weekly, fortnightly or monthly. The visits can be at home, and/or in a playgroup.
  3. The portage checklists are completed through observation and discussion with the parents/carers. This establishes a baseline of skills, and helps the portage advisor and parents/carers agree future targets and activities.
  4. On later visits, the advisor demonstrates agreed activities with parents/carers who will do them with the child every day over the following week.
  5. The parents/carers will have to record their child’s progress with an activity chart. This allows the activity to be developed or changed in the following week.
  6. All children have an initial 12 week block of portage followed by 12 weeks’ consolidation with a play plan for the family.
  7. Decisions about further portage is made on an individual basis depending on the child’s progress, number of playgroup sessions and family preference.

Assessment of a child’s progress

The portage advisor monitors a child’s progress every week using the portage checklists, activity sheets and visit notes. An ‘All About Me’ report and ‘Individual Play Plan’ is developed at the end of the portage. Along with educational psychologists, specialist advice and strategies inform children’s transition plans.

Supervision of advisors

Educational psychologists regularly oversee portage advisors. Also, the advisors often meet with other professionals working with the child, and plan joint home visits when appropriate.

How advisors are trained

Portage advisors get regular training alongside other specialists. Educational bodies receive training and individual plans as well. Additionally, portage advisors train medics, therapists and other colleagues.

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