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Portage Service

Hackney Learning Trust,
1 Reading Lane,
E8 1GQ
Telephone: 020 8820 7588


What is Portage?

Portage is a specialist educational home visiting service for pre-school children

aged 0 - 5 with special needs.

The service helps young children whose development is delayed.

Key to the success of work with Portage is the involvement of parents / carers who are recognised as the best people to teach very young children.

Children learn from birth but some children learn more slowly and parents / carers are not always sure how best to help their child develop. Portage can help to provide the kinds of activities and games that are best suited to encouraging a child’s development.

Why does Portage see children in the home?

Young children spend most of their time at home, it is where a great deal of learning takes place and is where there is most opportunity to practice new skills.

Who can get help from Portage?

Any baby or young child still at home with their parents, not in any nursery and who appear to be behind in certain areas of his or her development.

The service also sees children who have a recognised disability e.g. Down’s Syndrome or difficulty with vision or hearing. This usually involves working closely with other therapists. 

How does Portage work?

A home visitor from the Portage service will visit you once a week for an initial block of six home visit sessions.

Together with you they will look at what your child has already learnt to do. From there they will agree what the next most appropriate goal to work towards next is.

Goals may depend on ability, be specific to your child’s needs and can be anything from learning how to:

  • Sit while unsupported
  • Pick up a rattle or other object
  • Wave goodbye or communicate in some other way

Once a goal has been decided with you, your home visitor will work out strategies to help you reach it.

Most of this teaching takes place through play because this is how small children learn best.

What else can Portage help with?

The Portage workers understand that bringing up children with delayed development can be very demanding. Your home visitor will be able to understand more about your experience and will do their best to answer any questions and provide advice about any problems. This may include helping you make contact with other services. In some cases your Portage worker may take on a keyworking role to assist with coordinating specialist services.

What can parents do to help?

Parents are their child's first teacher. Many of the suggestions from the service will be part of play and daily routines. Some activities may be more specific and require some time to be set aside so that these strategies can be practices.

Daily practice is important as children who have difficulties with learning may need longer to understand and process information. It is not uncommon for children who are experiencing difficulties to forget what they have learned without regular reminders that they will get from daily sessions with parents / carers.

How does the service decide when to stop the visits?

Typically there will be a review after the initial block of six sessions. If it is agreed that more sessions would be helpful then these will be agreed at the review. There is usually a break of a few weeks during which time you can help your child practice and develop the skills they are learning. During this break you can still speak with your Portage worker.

You can also attend…

Portage Service – Drop-in sessions -  for  children either known to the service and receiving regular visits or those who are on the waiting list

Date:  Mondays during term time

Time: 10:00am – 4:00pm

Venue: Hackney Ark

Who provides this service?

In Hackney the Portage service is part of the Inclusion and Specialist Support Team run by Hackney Learning Trust.

Portage visitors are trained to have a wide range of knowledge about child development.

They also have years of experience of working with children under the age of 5 who have a range of special needs.

Who else might be involved?

The Portage service works closely with other services and they may arrange joint visits if this would be helpful.

Other professionals that Portage may involve are:

How can I get support?

Referrals usually come from:

Parents can contact the service directly to find out more or if they would like to self-refer. 

Parents who have used this service rate it very highly. 

Record Last Updated on: 22/09/2017

Time / Date Details

Time of day


Session Information

We visit families between Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm most convenient to them

Other Details



Referral required?


What to do if you have a complaint

If you have any feedback about the service you received – something you like or are not happy with; then do talk about it with the worker or manager in the service, so that they can look at how they deliver their service.

If you have a situation that you are still not happy about then you can raise it formally as part of the London Borough of Hackney complaints procedure; click here for more information.

Can parents & young people buy this service as part of their SEND personal budget?


How to Get Here

Buses: 30, 38, 48, 55, 106, 236, 242, 253, 276, 277, D6

Train: Hackney Central

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Disclaimer-important information about the Hackney Local Offer

Hackney's Local Offer website is a free and impartial service provided by the London Borough of Hackney in partnership with the NHS, local education, health and community services. The information contained within the website is available for the purposes of identifying services and provision that may be available to children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities.

This information does not represent a recommendation or an endorsement of a Service or Provider and neither does the London Borough of Hackney or its partners make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy of the information. Anyone seeking to use or access a service or provision is responsible for undertaking their own checks to determine the suitability and fitness for purpose of that service and provision. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including, without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damages whatsoever arising from use or loss of use of data or profits arising out of or in connection with the use of the Hackney Local Offer.

Some providers will be registered and inspected by external agencies, such as Ofsted or the Care Quality Commission. Anyone working with children and young people will be required to have appropriate Disclosure and Barring Service Check (the replacement for the Criminal Record Check), safeguarding policies and insurance in place, which they should make available to you on request.

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