Barnsley Education Inclusion Services

Children we work with

We're trained early years (EY) practitioners experienced in special educational needs. Our team sits within Education Inclusion Services (EIS).

We work with families, settings and services to enable early identification of special educational needs of EY children aged 0 to 4 years, and to reduce barriers to learning and development at the earliest opportunity. We work in line with the DfE and DH January 2015 statutory guidance: special educational needs and disability (SEND) code of practice 0 to 25 years.

Portage service

Barnsley portage service works with parents/carers to provide home-based development and learning support for children aged 0-4 years with SEND. Working in partnership with parents underpins portage practice, where parents are recognised as lead educators for their children.

Through respectful engagement and developing trusting relationships with children, families and education settings, we aim to empower parents to make informed choices about their child’s development whilst supporting them to feel confident in their own abilities. Our aim is for each child to achieve their full potential. We strive to empower parents to develop in their role as their child’s primary educator. We're is a registered service with the National Portage Association.

What we do 

We offer a structured needs-led service providing regular home visits by a trained portage worker. We work collaboratively with parents to identify relevant child-centred goals and implement a small steps approach to development and learning that builds on children’s strengths. In building on strengths, we support families to look forward and celebrate successes. We work with parents on activities for the child to support specific areas of development. The activities are demonstrated by the portage worker for parents to practice at home. 

We work within the early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework and a developmental journal is used to monitor and record progress and plan next steps. We offer parents practical strategies, signpost to resources and/or other support agencies and engage in joint problem solving with parents. Throughout our involvement we will liaise as needed with other key agencies who may be involved with the child to ensure a holistic and multi-agency approach.

Portage work in partnership with parents/carers to identify settings and prepare and plan for their child’s transition into a setting. We promote a child-centred approach to transition, maintaining parent and child views at the heart of the process. We'll facilitate transition with settings and parents to support settings to implement their graduated approach to understanding and meeting the special educational needs of the child.

How to access portage 

Portage work with children with SEND, between the ages of 0 to 4 years, who live in Barnsley and are not accessing a 15-hour or more funded place in a setting. 

Children are usually referred to the service by health or social care professionals who may already be working with the family. Referrals can be made by completing our portage referral form and emailing it to us at

When we receive a referral we'll make contact with parents/carers to discuss portage and possible involvement with our service.

Early years area SENCO

Barnsley early years area SENCO works to provide advice to EY settings on the implementation of the graduated approach. As specified in the SEND Code of Practice, the four stages of action are:

  • asses
  • plan
  • do
  • review

What the SENCO does

  • Provide advice for SENCOs and EY practitioners in order to build the capacity of early years settings to identify and meet the needs of children with SEND.

  • Deliver SENCO training and on-going support for SENCOs in early years settings through consultation, training and leading SENCO network meetings.

  • Develop and disseminate good practice in relation to identification, assessment and intervention in line with the SEND Code of Practice.
  • Provide consultation surgeries for EY practitioners in EY settings and parents/carers to access, to support identification and meeting the needs of EY children with SEND. Dates and booking details can be found on our events page. 
  • Work closely with colleagues in Education Inclusion Services teams, the Education Health and Care (EHC) team and a range of other professional colleagues to form a multi-agency approach to identification support and transition in relation to EY SEND.

  • Provide inclusion audit and action planning to identify whole setting strengths and areas for development in relation to SEND and inclusion.

Meet the team

  • Joanne Patterson - Principal Educational Psychologist (team manager)
  • Sheradene Faver - Portage Practitioner
  • Kate Bray - Portage Practitioner
  • Julie Thompson - Early Years Area SENCO

What people say about us

  • My child has come on developmentally a lot more since the involvement of portage. Our portage worker is really approachable and has an in-depth knowledge of my child’s needs.
    Barnsley parent
  • Our portage worker has been brilliant in helping us to track our daughter’s progress and in helping us understand the next steps to work on.
    Barnsley parent
  • My child’s transition into nursery has been made so much easier due to having portage involvement.
    Barnsley parent
  • In a country where I don’t know anybody, don’t have any mother or sister or friend, having portage made me feel like I am not alone in parenting my child - like I have someone for me.
    Barnsley parent
  • After attending EY Level 3 SENCO training I feel more knowledgeable about the SENCO role and SEND. And more confident about sharing my knowledge with others.
    Deputy Manager
  • I found the audit tool very helpful when developing staff knowledge and a support in refreshing my knowledge as SENCO.
    Setting Manager

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