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Southampton Portage Service

Southampton Portage is a home teaching service for young children with special educational needs aged 0-3 years who are delayed in at least two areas of development and their families.

Who to contact

Contact Name
J-P Cooke
023 8083 2099

Where to go

Southampton Portage Service
0-25 Service – Special Educational Needs and Disability
Ground Floor North wing, Civic Centre
Children's Centre Areas

Local Offer

Local Offer Age Bands
Early Years (0-4 years)
Needs Level
SEN Provision Type

Service Provider Extended Local Offer Response

What does your service do?

Portage is an internationally recognised home teaching programme which offers support, help and advice to families in identifying learning strategies for their child with special needs.

We operate a phased approach.

Portage Support – After an initial home visit the family are contacted by a Portage link advisor who will offer a home visit or chat on the phone on a monthly basis.

The link advisor acts as an advocate for the family, provides advice on teaching strategies, benefits and grants and links families to other services and prepares families for Portage Teaching. Portage Support continues until the start of Portage Teaching. 

Portage Teaching - Families receive a weekly home teaching session from their Portage teacher.

This will include: 

-          assessment of the child’s strengths and the areas that they find difficult

-          an individualised learning programme that is reviewed every six months

-          a learning through play session in partnership with a parent/carer

-          advice on pre-schools/early years settings and on the support that the child may need when they start at a setting

-          a loan of toys and equipment

-          support and advice with the Statutory Assessment process and Education, Health and Care plans (EHCP)

-          signposting to other services

-          Support and transition into an early year’s setting/pre-school.

When a child is eligible for a place at an early years setting, the term after their 3rd birthday, Portage would support families to identify and or request support for their child at a setting. At this point Portage involvement would cease.

Where is it located and what areas does it cover?

We cover all areas within the Southampton City Council boundaries. Our offices are based in Southampton Civic Centre but we carry out all of our work in the home or at early year’s settings.

Who does your service provide for?

We support children and families in Southampton who meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • The family live in the Southampton local authority area.
  • The child is aged 0– 3 years
  • The child’s development is delayed by at least 6 months in two  or more areas of development, such as:

- Physical
- Motor (movement)
- Speech and Language
- Social
- Cognitive (learning) skills.

  • A parental signature has been obtained.
  • The child’s parent/carer must agree to be available to meet the Portage teacher on a regular basis.

Note: If a child attends an early years setting for 10 hours a week or more this may affect the type of support Portage is able to offer. This will be discussed during the initial visit or when the child takes up their place in a setting.

How can I start using the service?

Requests for Portage involvement can be made for children aged from birth to 3 years who have/are expected to have a delay of at least 6 months in two or more areas of development.

The Portage service has an open referral system; therefore anyone can refer to the service so long as they have the parent’s permission, including the family themselves.

Referral forms can be requested by telephoning the Portage team or by requesting one from the child’s Health Visitor.

How are decisions made about who can use your service?

Upon receipt of a referral a Senior Portage Home Teacher will review the information on the referral and then contact will be made to the family within two weeks to arrange an initial home visit.

If the child does not appear to meet the criteria for a Portage service or more information is needed then the Portage service will contact the referrer to request more information.

If a Portage service is felt to be appropriate then Portage Support will begin immediately following the initial home visit. This information will be communicated to the family during the initial home visit and followed up with a letter to the referrer.

How do you communicate with service users and how are they involved in decision making/planning?

Parents/carers and children are partners in all aspects of the Portage service delivery. 

Each home teaching session includes both adult and child-led activities so that parents/carers and children have the opportunity to lead and influence the play and learning that takes place.

Portage teachers take into consideration the child’s likes and dislikes, the family’s day to day lives and their aspirations for their child are included in the planning of each play session.

Parents are updated on the latest local or Government SEN information or Portage updates termly via a newsletter and during their regular home visits with their Portage teacher.

If we are working with a family where by English is not their first language, we might ask if there’s a family member or friend who could act as a translator. If there isn’t anyone or the family don’t feel comfortable with this, we would employ a translator.

Is your service fully accessible?

All of our work takes place in the home or early years setting. 

What training are the staff supporting children and young people with SEND had or are having?

All prospective portage teachers will have:

  • Qualifications in child development
  • Significant experience of working within Early Years
  • Significant experience of Special Educational Needs
  • Significant experience of working with families

Before an employee can start work as a portage teacher they have to attend the Basic Portage Workshop, which is held over 3 days. Modules included in this training include;

  • Introduction to Portage
  • The Portage Home Visit
  • Helping Children Learn – Using Clear Language
  • Helping Children Learn – Planning for Success
  • Helping Children Learn – Small Steps to Learning
  • Planning, Recording and Sharing Activities
  • Play and Generalisation
  • Understanding and Responding to Children’s Behaviour

Staff receive on-going training through the National Portage Development training program, as well as through Southampton City Councils workforce development program.

When necessary, we seek and provide additional training based on needs identified by Portage teachers, relating to working with children with specific special educational needs and disabilities.

How will I know my child will be safe using this service?

Portage teachers are never left in sole charge of the children we are working with, and all work is carried out in the presence of families or the staff at early year’s settings.

All portage staff undergo advanced DBS checks (Disclosure and Barring Service).

How do I give feedback, make comments or raise concerns?

Each family are asked to complete a questionnaire when Portage Support ends and then again at the end of Portage Teaching.

Families are also advised that they can call the Portage manager and discuss any concerns or comments during the initial home visit and via the termly newsletter.

During the initial home visit families are advised on how to make a complaint. 

This can be done by contacting the Team Manager on 023 8083 4375.

You can also go to the compliments, comments and complaints page on the Southampton City Council Website

Or writing to:

Customer Relations TeamToggle Full Screen Mode
Legal, HR & Democratic Services
Room 210, Municipal Block
Southampton City Council
Civic Centre
SO14 7LY

Who can I contact for further information?

If you would like more information about our service please call 023 8083 4375.

You can find out more about the portage home teaching program by going to the national Portage website.

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