Swindon Portage and Special Tots

Swindon Portage and Special Tots provide education for children aged 0 to 4 years and 11 months, who have special needs and disabilities.

Swindon Portage and Special Tots Service criteria

Swindon Portage and Special Tots Service supports young children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) by:

  • providing a special tots group for parents/carers and their children
  • offering a home visiting service to enable parents/carers to help their child
  • liaising with settings, schools the local authority and health services about the child’s SEND

Request for service criteria

Swindon Portage home teaching

A child may be referred to Swindon Portage for the home visiting programme if the child has identified complex needs and is either receiving multi professional input or is likely to require it before they start school. This may also include children who have significant medical conditions.

For this context a child is defined as having complex needs if he or she has or is receiving support from universal services including:

  • a health visitor
  • a general practitioner (GP)
  • a community paediatrician

They should also have been identified as needing intervention from at least two of the following services:

  • Paediatric Therapy, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • The Learning Disability team of Community Nurses
  • Specialist Consultant; Hospital Paediatrician, Neurologist, Oncologist
  • Education Support service: Advisory Teachers for Hearing, Vision and Physical Impairments
  • Children’s Community Paediatric Nursing Team

Children can be visited weekly, fortnightly or monthly. There is flexibility so that this can change depending on circumstances.

When a child is in receipt of Early Years Funding (3/4yrs) they will be required to use 2.5 hours of their 15 hour allocation for portage home visit.

Special Tots

Children with specific identified needs can be referred to Special Tots without meeting the portage criteria. This includes children with one area of need or those with social interaction and communication difficulties or who have a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Special Tots is for any child with an identified special need, in order to help them to meet their full potential and their successful inclusion into nursery and or statutory education.

Support provided

Both the portage and Special Tots’ teams work in partnership with parents and a range of other professionals and services to facilitate co-ordinated provision for the child and family. They offer a high level of support for each child, with a home visiting ratio of 1:1 and in the Special Tots’ playroom of 1:5 qualified staff, supported by volunteers.

All children have individual play plans or activity sheets and the teams use developmental journals to help break down activities into small steps. They use appropriate and adapted play materials linked to the child’s developmental need and not their age, in addition to the provision of specialist play and postural equipment in the playroom and outdoor area.

The children have access to a sensory room and a variety of switch adapted toys and equipment, touch screen and iPads.

The team can also make referrals to extra-curricular activities, for example, swimming, Aiming High.

How to make a referral

Portage and Special Tots

Referrals can be made via a referral form from parents and guardians and any other professional or agency working with the child and family.

For initial discussions and to request an application form email: swindonportage@swindon.gov.uk or call 01793 465360.

How much does it cost?


There is no cost to parents for portage home visiting. However, where a child is in receipt of Free Entitlement Funding (FEF) they do require one session to be used to contribute to the cost of the portage visitors’ work.

Portage Inclusion into school

This is a traded service and schools are required to pay for this service.

Special Tots

There is a cost of £5 per session per child unless in receipt of Free Entitlement Funding (FEF). Where a child is in receipt of FEF, they are required to use 2.5 hrs of this funding to contribute to the cost of the session.

Special Tots will also accept 2 year funding to contribute to the cost of the service.

Transition into school

The team will have discussions with parents about the transition into school and where appropriate will initiate a statutory assessment. They will support parents when visiting local schools to help them make an informed decision about the most appropriate provision for their child.

Schools are included in the Team Around the Child (TAC) process prior to transition. The team’s individual knowledge of the child is shared with the receiving school.

Action plans are then put into place, identifying an induction programme for the child and family.

For those children who have received portage at home, the receiving school has the opportunity to purchase inclusion into school for that child, providing 12 school/class visits and 5 hours of training to staff.

How to contact us

Swindon Portage and Special Tots
Salt Way Children’s Centre
Pearl Road

Telephone: 01793 465360
Email: Swindonportage@swindon.gov.uk

Opening hours

Portage is available Monday to Thursday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
Special Tots is available on Mondays, 9.15am to 11.45am, Wednesdays, 9.15am to 11.45am and 1.00pm to 3.00pm, Thursdays, 9.15am to 11.45am.

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