Anna Dootson is a SENCO, Designated Safeguarding Lead and Assistant Headteacher at Educational Diversity, Blackpool’s complex pupil referral unit. This is the largest pupil referral unit in the country, providing educational provision for young people with social, emotional and mental health difficulties alongside a multitude of additional learning needs. Working within this environment for over 11 years, Anna is passionate about inclusion and the holistic approach to meeting individual needs. Through acknowledgement that all behaviour is communication, Educational Diversity strives to identify a young person’s primary need, as opposed to the focus remaining on their presenting behaviour. Anna initially trained as a primary teacher, and quickly realised that her passion centred around working with those children who needed ‘something else’. After a couple of years in mainstream, she then moved over to the PRU, initially as a teacher and then progressing to SENCO and Assistant Headteacher. Anna has experience of teaching across all the key stages.
Alongside formal SENCO duties, Anna has strategic oversight of those young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan and/or Looked After status and advises on their placement within the PRU. Having fostered excellent working relationships based around mutual respect with a wide range of both educational and non-educational agencies, Anna is available to provide support and advice to mainstream colleagues around young people whose needs overlap behaviour and learning. Linking particularly closely with health colleagues, Anna is pursuing her recent interest in the links between mental health and learning difficulties. Anna is also an Advanced MAPA (Management of Actual or Potential Aggression) trainer and is training to be a Level 7 Specialist Assessor for Exam Access Arrangements. In her non-working hours, Anna is a mum of 2 young children and enjoys travelling.