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Specialist Teaching Team


The City of York Portage Service is a home visiting educational teaching service for pre-school children with disabilities and special educational needs.

The service is available to families who live within the city boundary and have a pre-school child (between 0 and 5) who has:

  • delays or difficulties in more than one area of development; or
  • a diagnosis which may predict such difficulties.

The service also offers support to children at risk of developmental difficulties through low birth weight or premature birth and children that are looked after by the local authority.

We accept request for support from parent carers and professionals. Parents can contact the Portage Team directly by contacting Senior Portage Worker Shahenaz Shaikh by email: [email protected].

How Portage Works

A Portage home visitor will visit the family home for 1 hour each week or fortnightly. Working in partnership with the parent carer, the home visitor will agree on a planned teaching target which promotes the child’s learning, communication, and independence through play. It helps for the teaching outcome to be broken down into small achievable steps and modelled to parents.

A holistic approach is used by the Portage home visitor to find out what skills each child has and identify what to work on next in close partnership with parent carers. Children’s development is assessed and monitored using development profiles such as the Early Support Development Journal along with working in close partnership with Speech and Language Therapists, Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapists.

6-monthly reviews are held with each Portage family, their Portage home visitor, and the Senior Portage Worker to review the outcomes being worked on and to celebrate the progress being made.

Portage supports the child’s transition into pre-school provision. They actively work towards starting My Support Plans and work alongside SENCOs in settings where children are already accessing early years provision. They work closely with Educational Psychologists and provide advice towards statutory assessment when required.

The City of York Portage service offers Early Support to families through a dedicated Key worker and through their Portage home visitor. Families are offered opportunity to attend groups throughout the year.

Training Offer – March 2023

The Portage Workshop is an introduction to the Portage Approach to working with children with SEND and their families. This is an Accredited certified training course delivered by National Portage Association Accredited Trainers.

The Portage Workshop is an introduction to the Portage Approach to working with children with additional needs and their families. The Workshop is suitable for anyone interested in finding out more about the Portage model, including early years practitioners, therapists, and parents.

Central to the course are the ‘Portage Principles’ and the ‘Three Circle Model of Portage’.

The Portage Principles are:

  • inclusion
  • generalising skills
  • celebrating diversity
  • enabling
  • looking forward
  • practical, immediate, relevant
  • supporting
  • whole child, family and community
  • being positive
  • small steps
  • celebrating success
  • partnership

The 3 elements are:

  • child-led play
  • family focus
  • structured learning

Any enquiries for the training offer, please contact Senior Portage Worker Shahenaz Shaikh by email: [email protected].

NPA Stamp of Approval Scheme – this is an award given to early years settings who have demonstrated they deliver inclusive early years education based upon Portage Principles. Childminders (registered with OFSTED) who offer early years education are also eligible to apply.

Settings are awarded the stamp of approval for a period of 1 year, upon completion of an application form that:

a) meets all the essential NPA criteria

b) is supported by a Portage representative who is familiar with the setting and the work that they do with children with additional needs and their families

The benefits to settings achieving the Stamp of Approval accreditation are a formal recognition and acknowledgement of inclusive settings that ensure high quality provision for children with additional needs.

You can view more information through the National Portage Association.

Early Support Coordinator 

The Early Support Coordinator works with families to signpost for support available and suggests strategies to help with learning at home before a Portage intervention commences. They also facilitate a weekly drop-in playgroup for all parents of pre-school children with additional needs. The Early Support Coordinator is available to provide help with completing benefit and grant applications, as well as advocacy to families referred to the Portage service.

Contact the early support coordinator:

Universal Offer of training and advice for families and professionals

Visit the Universal Offer