Portage Worker

Portage workers provide a home teaching service for pre-school children with special educational needs, which may include physical or learning difficulties. They also provide help and support for the children's parents and can help them learn how to teach their children skills through a carefully structured and flexible programme.

Work Environment
Portage workers have an office base, but spend a good deal of time visiting families in their homes. They may also work part of the time in nurseries and schools.

Daily Activities
Portage workers help assess children with special needs in areas such as:

  • infant development;
  • social skills;
  • cognitive (thinking) skills;
  • self-help skills;
  • motor skills;
  • language development.

Duties include:

  • working with parents to prepare a programme of activities for the parent and child to practice;
  • visiting families weekly to check progress and agree new goals and activities;
  • writing regular progress reports on their clients and developing long-term teaching goals for the child, in consultation with the parents;
  • ensuring programmes are tailored to each individual child so that they can learn effectively;
  • working closely with other professionals, such as speech therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, health visitors and social workers.

Skills & Interests
Portage workers need to be:

  • excellent communicators;
  • able to work with a wide range of people, including children, parents and other professionals;
  • sensitive and tactful;
  • good at giving advice;
  • good report writers;
  • interested in child and family development.

Entry Requirements
Portage workers usually require a professional qualification in nursing, social work or education, such as NNEB, CACHE, teaching qualifications or a degree in social work. Alternatively, you may be required to have level 3 N/SVQs in Early Years Care and Education.

Training opportunities in portage are available for workers who are not already qualified in the basic portage workshop through the National Portage Association (NPA). These workshops usually last three or four days. More advanced modules in play and home visit, emotional support and working with multiple learning difficulties, for example, can also be taken through the NPA.  As portage workers make numerous home visits, they usually need to have a clean driving licence and sometimes use of a car.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
It may be possible to progress to manager or supervisor of a portage service. Other possible career developments for portage workers include specialising in one or other of their skills and moving into nursery nursing or speech therapy, for example. You may also be able to move into other professional areas working with children such as social work or teaching.

Further Information & Services
Community Service Volunteers www.csv.org.uk
Education jobs www.eteach.com
National Portage Association www.portage.org.uk

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales (www.careerswales.com/) or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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