In May 2013 the National Portage Association (NPA) signed a two year contract with the Department for Education (DfE) to work together on a project to ‘develop and sustain the Portage workforce across England.’
The contract aimed to develop Portage in new areas and to embed Portage Principles into the working practices of the wider early years workforce.
The NPA / DfE contract acknowledged that Portage can play an important role in supporting the early years workforce to develop the skills, knowledge & confidence to meet the individual needs of children with disabilities; thereby enabling parents to feel more confident to take up their free places and supporting them to get the most benefit from their place.
‘Families with disabled children are less likely to use early years and childcare settings even when it is free as they may feel that settings do not offer support appropriate for their particular needs.’ Support and Aspiration (1.27 DfE 2011).
Having successfully completed the 2013/15 DfE contract, the NPA have received successive DfE grants between 2015-17 to continue the work.
Portage Support Hub
Within the initial DfE project, DfE funding enabled the creation of a Portage Support Hub – offering online support to all involved in Portage. The Hub has sat alongside the existing NPA website, offering ongoing support to the Early Years workforce after Portage training and enabling good practice to be collated and shared.
Successive DfE grants have also supported the combination of the Portage Support Hub and the NPA website into this single combined website.