Portage home visitor
36 per week
£19,000 + per year
Portage home visitors, or portage workers, provide a home-visiting service for pre-school children with developmental or learning difficulties, physical disabilities or other special needs. They help parents to encourage their children's development by suggesting activities and daily routines to make learning fun.
If you would like to work with young children with special needs, this job could be ideal for you.
In this job you’ll need knowledge of child development and the ability to get both children and parents to take part. To become a Portage home visitor, you may need qualifications but some employers will consider you with relevant experience and train you on the job.
You will also need to attend a Portage Basic Workshop and have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check.
As a Portage home visitor, your work would include:
- observing the child and talking to the parents to identify skills the child already has
- deciding with the parents which skills are most important for the child's future learning
- suggesting a programme of activities for the parents and child to practise together
- breaking down tasks that are difficult, or take a long time, into small steps
- showing parents how to use an activity chart or notebook to record their child's progress
- encouraging parents/carers to meet and offer each other support
- guiding parents in applying for disability benefits
- visiting weekly or fortnightly to check on progress and agree on new goals
- writing progress reports and working with the parents to develop long-term goals.
You would work closely with other professionals, such as health visitors, social workers, physiotherapists and speech therapists.
Working hours and conditions
You would work around 36 hours a week, which may be term-time only. Part-time jobs are often available. You may sometimes need to work in the evenings and at weekends to visit parents who work during the day.
You would be based in an office, but spend a lot of your time visiting families in their own homes.
Full-time Portage home visitors can earn from around £19,000 to £21,000 a year. With experience this can rise to between £22,000 and £24,000.
Senior Portage workers can earn between £25,000 and £32,000.
Many Portage home visitors are part-time and/or term-time only, and earn a portion of full-time rates (known as 'pro rata' payment).
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You will need experience of working with children aged 0 to 4 years, and an understanding of child development. You may also need one of the following:
- a relevant professional qualification such as teaching, social work or nursing
- a level 2 or 3 early years qualification, a foundation degree or degree in early childhood studies.
Some local authorities will accept you without qualifications providing you have enough relevant experience. Some may support you in getting that experience by offering opportunities to be a volunteer Portage worker.
Before you start work you would attend a three-day, full-time (or part-time equivalent) Portage Basic Workshop led by a National Portage Association (NPA) accredited trainer. This workshop is accredited as a Level 3 Advanced Award in Portage Skills. Your employer may pay for this, or it may be free. You can also attend if you wish to find out more about the role before applying for work – no prior knowledge or experience is required. You could then register with the NPA.
You can find a list of local workshops on the training page of the NPA website.
You would need enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance, as you would be working with children.
Training and development
After your basic training, you would be supervised for an agreed period by qualified colleagues. They would also oversee your enrolment onto the Level 4 Professional Certificate in Portage Practice.
Once qualified, you would be supported by regular supervision meetings with a senior colleague. Your employer may also encourage you to take courses that are part of the Portage Curriculum for Continuing Professional Development (PCPD). Alternatively, you could concentrate on using the Portage model within a particular curriculum area or for a group of children who have a specific special educational need.
Currently, the following course modules of the PCPD are available:
- Working with Children who have Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD)
- Complex Social Communication Difficulties / Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
- Understanding and Responding to Children – Challenging Behaviour (URCCB).
Skills, interests and qualities
To be a portage home visitor you should have:
- an understanding of child development
- the ability to relate to children and gain their trust
- good communication and 'people' skills
- good listening skills
- initiative and the ability to work in small teams
- the ability to give clear explanations to parents
- sensitivity and tact when giving advice
- the ability to write reports and keep accurate records.
National Portage Association
You would usually be employed by a Portage Service within a local authority or children’s charity. There are around 140 Portage Services registered in Britain – see the NPA website for details of registered Services and job vacancies.
With experience you could become a senior Portage worker with supervisory or management responsibilities. Alternatively you could train as an accredited trainer and then a senior accredited trainer.
Vacancies are also advertised in local newspapers, the educational press, and on local authority and recruitment websites.
You may find the following useful for job vacancies and further reading:
Job market information
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