Meet the Board

Janet Rickman, Chair

2012   Elected as Membership Coordinator  

2015   Elected as Chair

Janet began her career by training as a Nursery Nurse and working in Early Years Settings in Inner London Boroughs so has vast experience of child development.  Janet managed two large Social Care day care settings, both with specialist provision.  Janet further developed her interest in working with children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and so completed the Portage Workshop, which revolutionised her thinking. She was introduced to the concept that we should celebrate and develop what children can do rather than focus on what they are not able to and that parents are probably the best educators of their own young children, a theory in which she continues to believe. 

Janet developed her career by becoming a Portage Worker and then co-ordinating two Portage Teams.   She undertook further training, including a Diploma in Special Needs and Inclusion with the Open University.

Janet is still as passionate about Portage now as when she was first introduced to it as she is certain it is the most effective model of teaching children with SEND and of empowering their parents. 


Pam Fry - Vice Chair & Company Secretary

2021 Elected as Vice Chair 

Pam has a vast career of working across all Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Pam believes wholeheartedly in the Portage principles and working in partnership with parents and carers and extended family members.

In pursuit of her desire to ensure all families within Sutton access the right support that fits their family, she developed her non-profit company, 'PlayWise Learning CIC', working with children up to the age of 8 years - with the Portage principles and ethos at the heart of the service.

In March 2022 Pam was awarded an MBE - for 'Services to Disabled children and young People'.  She is highly passionate about all things Portage and SEND and thrives for equality for children with SEND and their families.  

Juliet Davies - Quality Assurance & Development Trustee

2021 Co-opted to Board

2022 Elected as Quality Assrance & Development Trustee

Juliet’s professional heritage is firmly based within the Early Years sector, initially completing NNEB training and latterly M. A, ed with a dissertation focussing on the assessment of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

Through the setting up and managing of a Children’s Centre nursery Juliet worked with children that often have complex SEND/SEMH needs. As the designated SENCO Juliet became Portage trained in 2009, delivering Portage as outreach and sharing the Portage principles through courses that were delivered to parents. Juliet currently works as a Children’s Centre Coordinator for SEND and has developed a Portage service which she continues to manage and develop.

Juliet is immensely proud to be a trustee of the National Portage Association as the Portage ethos echoes her views that a participatory model of learning between the child, parents and professional delivers the best outcomes.

Most importantly Juliet has close personal experience of neurodiversity and celebrates the unique way this has opened her eyes to the highs and lows of living with additional needs.

Margje Nouwens - Treasurer

2021  Elected as Treasurer

Margje has studied Social Work (BA) and Childhood and Youth (MA) and has work experience in the Special Needs arena for over ten years. She currently works for KIDS, a national charity for children and young people with disabilities and developmental delays. Margje is the service manager for the Portage service in the London Borough of Southwark.

Margje enjoys being on the board of trustees and contributing to the running of the National Portage Association. She has an interest in numbers and having the opportunity to extend her knowledge and experience by being the NPA Treasurer is very valuable to her.

Tracy Harvey, Chair of Training

2010 Elected to Board

2021 Acting Chair of Training

Tracy completed her NNEB training in 1979 working initially for a London Borough as a residential Social Worker with a group of young people who had additional needs.

She realised the importance of supporting learning and the right approach at the right time being crucial for progress to be made.

Next setting up a Training Unit for young adults with SEND, led to being employed at a SCOPE FE college, where she completed her further Education City and Guilds teaching qualification. She also lectured at a local FE college and worked with the Learning Disability team.

She joined the Portage service in Kent in 1994 and becoming a Portage Accredited Trainer in 1996. In 2008 she became the Portage County Manager for Kent, developing the Portage Best Practice Assessment Tool.

She has delivered Portage Training in the UK as well as travelling to Moldova and Kosovo.

Portage has been her professional life for the last 28 years, she still believes the Portage approach offers families the highest quality of support, and by supporting the family, creates a positive impact for the child.


Rachel Deacon - Members Trustee

2021 Co-opted to NPA Board

2022 Elected as Members Trustee

Rachel has been working as an early year’s educator since 2012, starting out at a nursery assistant, she also has experience managing tuition centres, supporting children aged 5-18. She spent 4 years volunteering in orphanages in Malaysia teaching English and maths. She graduated University with a Masters in Global Criminology in 2015, focusing her studies on crimes affecting children, particularly disabled children.

Rachel began working for KIDS in 2016 as a short breaks worker and then joining the Southwark Home Learning Portage team in 2018 and becoming a qualified Portage practitioner. Having a family member with disabilities has provided Rachel with first-hand experience on the highs and lows of living with additional needs and the pressures on a family. This has enabled her to practice Portage with a passion and strive to create inclusive society for our young people living with disabilities. She is greatly proud to represent the hardworking and dedicated members of the National Portage Association.


Jenny Chapman - Services Trustee

2021 Co-opted to NPA Board

2022 Elected as Services Trustee

Jenny formally began her interest in Early Years when her youngest son started preschool. He struggled to settle so she stayed with him for a few sessions and enjoyed it so much she never left!  She worked in an amazing private preschool for 7 years learning and gaining experience and qualifications in Early Years. She then moved to Slough Nurseries where she worked in their Children Centre. She has always had an internal draw to children with additional needs, inclusion and equality for all and comes from a large and diverse family.  A relocation to near Reading, Berkshire in 2015 led to her joining the Local Portage team and she has been working for them ever since.

She has a personal interest in supporting children with additional needs having herself a son who is diagnosed autistic, and she truly believes in what a valuable and fantastic service Portage Home Visiting provides. Jenny has always believed parents are children's first and foremost educators and feels privileged to work as a Portage Home Visitor together with them and to support others through its principles and beliefs.  She is empowered to support families and does so with the mantra of being the person she needed when her own son was younger.

Jenny is currently completing a degree is Autism and is a trained and experienced Intensive Interaction Coordinator.

After attending the NPA Development Day in 2021, Jenny felt what a valuable and exciting opportunity it would be to join the Board and support the Portage Association and she is enjoying it so far and looking forward sharing the Portage message far and wide and supporting Services to offer the best home visiting service they can.

CURRENTLY VACANT - Digital Communication & Media Trustee