Skip to main content

Hackney Portage Service

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


What is Portage?

Portage is a specialist education home visiting service for pre-school children aged 0 - 5 who have special needs or whose development is delayed.

The service recognise parents and carers are the best people to teach very young children. Parents and carers involvement and support is key to the success of the work Portage do.

Children learn from birth but some children learn at a slower pace than others for various reasons. When this happens parents and carers are not always sure how best to help their child develop. The Portage service can help 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 so it is where most  learning happens.  Home is also where there is the most opportunity to practice new skills.

Who can get help from Portage?

Portage are here to help any baby or young child who appears to be; behind in certain areas of his or her development, is still at home with their parents, is not attending an early years setting,

Portage also see children who have a recognised disability such as Down’s Syndrome or difficulty with their vision or hearing. Work with these children usually involves close working 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 and agree the next steps or goals for your child. These steps may depend on ability and will be specific to your child’s needs. They 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 this next step is agreed with you a Portage home visitor will work out strategies to help you reach it. Most of this teaching takes place through play because that is how small children learn best.

What else can Portage help with?

Portage workers understand that bringing up children with delayed development can be very demanding. During home visits they will get to know and understand more about your experience. They will do their best to answer your questions and offer advice about any problems.

This may include helping you make contact with other services. In some cases a Portage home visitor may take on a key working role to help with coordinating specialist services.

What can parents do to help?

Parents are their child's first teacher. Many suggestions from the service will be part of play and daily routines. However some activities or strategies may be more specific and need some time to be set aside so they can be practiced.

Daily practise is important because children who have difficulties with learning may need longer to understand and process information. It is not unusual for children who have difficulties to forget what they have learned. Regular reminders during daily sessions with parents or carers help them learn and remember.

How does the service decide when visits should stop?

After 6 visits, the service will review their involvement. If this review identifies more sessions would be helpful then a new arrangement will be agreed.

The service often has a break in contact of a few weeks so you can help your child practice and develop the skills they are learning. You can still speak with or get advice from your Portage worker during this break.

If your child starts attending an early years setting the Portage Home Visitor can support you with the transition and help the setting understand your child’s needs.

Portage Drop-in sessions

Portage Service drop-in sessions are for any child who has been referred to Portage. They are a useful way to have contact with the service if there is a wait for a worker to visit you at home.

Date: Mondays during school term time
Time: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Venue: Hackney Ark

Who provides this service?

Portage is part of the Inclusion and Specialist Support Team from Hackney Education.

Portage visitors are trained to have a wide range of knowledge about child development and have years of experience of working with children under 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. Professionals that Portage may involve are:

Record Last Updated on: 13/01/2021

Time / Date Details

Session Information

Home visits Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm
Agreed at the most convenient for families
Drop in sessions Mondays school term time 1pm – 4pm

Other Details

Referral required?


Referral Details

Referrals to the service usually come from:

  • GP’s / Doctors
  • Health Visitors
  • Therapist at Hackney Ark

Parents can contact the service directly to find out more or to self-refer.  

What to do if you have a complaint

How you feel about having used a service is important. Services often ask you for feedback about your experience. This is to help them understand how to make sure people they work with have a good experience.

If you have feedback about this service, something you liked or were not happy with, you can talk to the person who worked with you or, if you feel more comfortable, a service manager. They will try to help sort out any problems.

If you are still not happy with the service you can raise your concerns formally. This means someone who is not part of the service will look at your feedback or concern and see if anything can or needs to be done to help make things better.

If you need to make a formal complaint you can use the London Borough of Hackney complaints procedure.

How to Get Here

Most visits take place in the child's home. 

Buses: 30, 38, 388, 55, 106, 236, 242, 253, 276, 277, D6

Train: Hackney Central

Your Feedback | The Likes & Dislikes from real parents

Sign in to add feedback

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.

Help & Advice

Back to top