What is the role of the Early Years and SEND Team? 

The Early Years and Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) teams work in parallel to focus support and advice to Early Years Providers to ensure high quality, inclusive provision that reduces inequalities and improves outcomes for children under five in Reading.

Portage advisors also provide support to children under five with SEND and their families, within groups and at home, with a focus on individual achievement.


Who we are

Early Years and SEND team



Email Address

Mobile Telephone Number

Telephone Number

Becky Gibson 

Team Manager 


07422 078 953         

0118 9373003             

Jessica Kenward

Interim Early Years SEND Team Manager 


07773 197 126

0118 937 2089 (72089)

Jayne Clark 

Early Years Development Officer 


07973 689 441 

0118 9373168 

Deborah Wood 

Childcare Compliance Manager 


07970 406 586 

0118 9376896 

Lorna McGifford 

Extended Childcare Project Officer 


07813 621 948 

0118 9376885 

Katrina Shakespeare 

Early Years Data, Sufficiency and Performance Manager 


0118 9372560 

Angela Smith 

Early Years SEND Advisor 


07973 689 426 

0118 9376727 

Sam Smith 

Early Years SEND Advisor 


07970 725 152 

0118 9376881 

Jenny Chapman 

EYFS Prime Area Development Officer (PADO) 


07790 773 966 

0118 9374454 

Lisa Paine 

EYFS Prime Area Development Officer (PADO) 


07977 290 853 

0118 9376005 

Vicki Allen 

Operations and Support Officer 


07812 461 472 

0118 9374730 

Portage team

Name Extension (internal) Mobile Email  
Jessica Kenward – Senior Portage Worker 72089 07773 197 126 Jessica.Kenward@brighterfuturesforchildren.org 
Tanya Lacey Froude – Portage Worker 76883 07515 629 094 Tanya.Lacey-Froude@brighterfuturesforchildren.org 
Tracy Clarke – Portage Worker 76032 07843 642 518 Tracy.Clarke@brighterfuturesforchildren.org 
Michelle Clark – Portage Worker 76729 07515 629 092 Michelle.Clark@brighterfuturesforchildren.org 
Isobel (Izzy) Wood – Portage Worker 72621 07773 197 400 Isobel.Wood@brighterfuturesforchildren.org 
Onyedikachi Abiodun-Ekus – Portage Worker 74231 07976 892 678 Onyedikachi.Abiodun-Ekus@brighterfuturesforchildren.org 

What we offer

Early Years is a statutory service under Childcare Act 2016 and our responsibilities include:

Securing sufficient childcare, which is high quality, flexible, inclusive and accessible to all children, with a focus on those families who are disadvantaged.

Providing information to parents and prospective parents which is up to date, easily accessible, online and which details available childcare, early education and funded spaces in the local area.  

Ensuring the availability of information, advice and training for childcare providers which promotes high-quality provision with regard to the following matters:

  • Meeting the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage
  • Meeting the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities, vulnerable and disadvantaged children
  • Effective safeguarding and child protection


Early Years service has a duty to secure enough childcare for working parents, for funded 2 year olds, and all 3–4 year olds. They are required to report annually to elected council members on how they are meeting their duties and to make this report available and accessible.

Sufficiency reports can be found here.

The development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. It is important that all children can access high quality interactions throughout the day in a language rich environment. 

Click the button below to head over to our speech, language and communication hub.

Speech, Language & Communication Hub

For information to support Early Years providers and practitioners in Reading, visit our dedicated transitions page here.

The Early Years service fulfils the duty under the Childcare Act 2016 to provide information, advice and training to childcare providers. Local authorities must ensure they meet their duties under the Equality Act 2010 and take account of the special educational needs and disability (SEND) Code of Practice 0-25 when securing free places, promoting equality and inclusion.

To request a bespoke training session for your setting, please complete our bespoke training request form.

Click here for the Early Years training programme 2024-2025

Click here for the EY training calendar

Click here for the Early Years Designated Safeguarding Lead’s handbook

Contact us

Early Years Newsletter

We produce a termly newsletter to keep you up to date with the latest information, resources, top tips and advice. The latest edition is on the right, but you can view previous issues below. Click on an image to open.

If you work with children under 5 with SEND, click the button below

Under 5s with SEND

For useful documents and links for early years practitioners, click the button below

Click here

Information on becoming a childminder

Learn More

Early years inclusion awards

Information on how to enter
our popular awards

Learn More

Childcare careersin Reading

Find out about childcare career options

Learn More

If you need more information or need to speak with the Early Years team please call 0118 937 4730

If you want to report concerns about a child or young person, visit this page if you’re a member of the public or this page if you’re a professional.