Portage service

This page provides information about Northumberland's Portage service for school children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Portage is a home teaching service for pre-school children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), helping parents and carers to support their child's learning. Here you can find out about the service, who uses it, and referrals.

Who uses the Portage service?

PLEASE NOTE due to current circumstances please contact Portage Lead via email lynne.mckillup@northumberland.gov.uk should you need to contact the service.​

Our Portage service works with parents and carers who have children aged 0-5, with significant delays in at least two areas of development.

PLEASE NOTE: We work with children aged birth to five, however we must work with the child for at least two terms before they enter full time education. If this is not possible, the child is not likely to be accepted for our Portage service.

Contact us

For further information, please read the information below or contact Lynne McKillup, our Portage Lead, using the following details:

What is a Portage home visitor?

Portage home visitors:

  • are widely experienced in working with families and children with SEND
  • make learning easier by breaking skills down into small, achievable steps
  • devise individual teaching programmes including activities, which encourage and promote:
    • participation
    • play
    • communication
    • independence
    • learning

How does the Portage service work?

  • Parents and carers agree an appropriate time for a visit with their portage home visitor. Each visit takes place at home and will last for approximately one hour. 
  • Together, activities and goals are planned to encourage and promote your child’s development. 
  • During each visit, the home visitor will demonstrate and teach a play-based activity, which develops your child’s skills. 
  • You and your child will do the agreed activities between visits and record successes.
  • Long-term goals will be reviewed, celebrated, and revised between three and six months.
  • Your home visitor will liaise with your child’s preschool setting or school to share information and help support your child's transition. 

If, at any time, you or your home visitor feel portage is no longer appropriate, the home visitor will summarise the child’s progress and help you plan the next steps.

Helpful documents - learn more about Portage

Parents, carers or professionals can refer a child to the Portage service.

The referral criteria is outlined here:

  • the child is aged from birth to five years - we work with children aged birth to five, however we must work with the child for at least two terms before they enter full time education.
  • parents/carers and professionals have observed a significant delay in at least two areas of development or the child has been diagnosed as having a medical condition, which is generally recognised as likely to lead to future significant developmental delay
  • the child has at least two terms prior to full-time education
  • complete the online referral form below

Please click here for the Portage referral form.

Information and privacy

Information for service users and/or adults with parental responsibility for the service user, in accordance with GDPR:

Please click on the boxes below to find out more about Portage, such as withdrawal from the Portage service and Portage training.

If other services are already working with your child, then your Portage home visitor will:
  • make regular joint visits
  • plan targets which can be combined with other professional targets
  • update other services on your child’s progress and activities
  • attend multi-agency meetings
The following is the withdrawal criteria for the Portage service:
  • the child is settled into a pre-school/school setting with their educational needs being met confidently by the establishment
  • agreement is reached between the portage service and parent/carer on an appropriate gradual withdrawal process
  • parents/carers frequently fail to keep appointments without notification to the service
Our Portage team run a two-day Portage training workshop with a further ‘follow-up’ day. This training is available for parents, professionals and Early Years practitioners.

Portage training workshops are free to parents that currently have a Portage home visitor/are already involved with the Portage service. 

Please contact Lynne McKillup, our Portage Lead, using the following details: