Parent Newsletter 13 February

Dear parents,

I hope you are all safe and well. Across the whole college a buzz can be felt (and not from Covid…).

Trial examination results
Years 11 and 13 have received their trial examination results.  Some of the pupils passing my window were very happy, others less so.  All of them have been made aware of the next steps! Well done to all pupils in Year 11 and Year 13.

Saying Goodbye
Sadly we say goodbye to Mr Welsh, Secondary Maths teacher. We thank him for all his hard work and his dedication to the children, and we wish him every success in his new venture.

We also say goodbye to Miss Foody in the Primary School – her love of the children and excellent teaching are going to be sorely missed.

Internet Safety Week
Some fantastic work is going on in both sections of the college regarding this.  We have tried to raise awareness of the advantages of social media but also of its dangers, if we are not careful and aware.  Please reinforce this at home with your children.

Even though I work alongside Mr Escobar I, like you, always enjoy his weekly reflection in his newsletter, which is discussed by Secondary pupils the following week.

I have an amazing fact for you – did you know that only 60% of you open or read our weekly news bulletin? 

Dia de Andalucia in school – Friday 19 February
This year we are unable to follow our annual tradition of enjoying a typical Andalusian breakfast together, and offering to you the parents the chance to taste a variety of oils from a local producer.  However, we do invite all pupils and staff to leave their uniform at home that day and come to school wearing green and white, the colours of the Andalucian flag. We like to support this festivity, so please talk with your children about it.

My weekly Covid letter highlighted the importance of your children being provided with a clean mask daily.  It is becoming evident that this is not always happening, so I would ask for your support in this matter, as we certainly do not want to cause any child embarrassment. 

Fran the Guard

I have talked about Fran before and the importance of his role in our community.

Some parents have expressed their wonderment at the fact that a school security guard knows the names of 800 pupils, recognises their parents, and is aware of what car they drive!  Some of the younger children describe him as a “Super Hero”, and so do I.

Do you think that the difficulties of drop-off and collection would be as smooth as we can make them, without Fran?

Like us, most of you adore and respect him, but a few people do not show him consideration. Lack of respect to any staff member would never be accepted and that includes Fran. So please, always value his efforts.

Thank you to you all for your support.

I wish you a lovely party-free, sleepover-free, social gathering-free weekend. Stay safe!


I must honestly share with you all that the happiest moments of my week have been the time spent with your children.

Year 3 classes have been amazing!! We had an internal competition of who was the best-behaved class in a lesson, judged by me! And which class had the best IT skills, judged by Mr Mulligan. The classes were also praised online by two visiting teachers from other prestigious international schools. The competition was very close.

Miss Jacquie, Miss Liz and Miss Emily have eagerly awaited the results!!! Here they are:

  • Miss Jacquie’s class – 1st place
  • Miss Liz’s class – 1st place
  • Miss Emily’s class – 1st place

As you can see it was impossible to decide – well done Year 3, I was very proud of you all.

My online Monday’s assembly reinforced this week’s Aloha Value of CARE. Whilst the children were disappointed not to see my two dogs, Vinnie and Barney, they did enjoy being shown how to make “bird cakes” and talking about caring for the birds and caring for each other. Ask them to tell you all about this experience.


Following that, Hugo from Year 6WA overwhelmed me with his care of rabbits. Enjoy what he shared with me: “Recently in PSHE we were learning about different problems around the world and what we can do to help. So when I got home I decided to search for a charity helping rabbits. Why? Because I have two pet rabbits myself, called Mr. Sniffles & Mr. Snowy. I found one charity dedicated to helping rabbits called “The Rabbit Welfare Association And Fund.” I then asked my relatives to sponsor me <3 Hugo.”

Adriana from the Secondary School 8SWE even brought me my breakfast and lunch! 5 beautiful freshly-laid eggs from the chickens that she looks after in her garden. It doesn’t get better than that!!! Thank you Adriana. She is animal-mad. She also has rabbits, so is meeting Hugo next week to compare notes on animal welfare.

Some of the children said I looked “pretty” this week as I wore a beautiful butterfly brooch which I have attached to one of my blue jackets. It was made for me by Pearl Eddison in 3ARS. Thank you children for your kindness and care.

Parents, can I please ask you to ensure that the bag or trolley that your child brings to school is not too big or heavy. I often watch children struggling up the stairs with heavy or awkward bags that are so big I think they are fit for a round-the-world cruise, but when they show me what’s inside, they often only contain a reading book. I appreciate your children love certain bags but for school purposes, only a small, light bag is necessary. I say this only in the interests of your children’s safety.

Thank you for some very personal messages received by email this week, thanking the school for the care we take of your children, particularly during these difficult times. Your kind words are much appreciated by myself and all Primary staff.

We are going to repeat our concentration on the Aloha Value CARE once again next week, so let’s see it in action everywhere in our whole community.

I wish you a lovely weekend with your families (not mixing with other people’s!).

Stay safe

Aloha Value – CARE
Personal Learning Goal February – TO BE INQUISITIVE

If you really want to grow in your lifetime, learn to be inquisitive as a child.

Yours sincerely

Elizabeth Batchelor


Dear Parents,

“Sir, I feel a bit sad”, a student said to me on Thursday. My reply was: “Great. Do you always expect to be happy?” You are probably thinking that Mr Escobar has lost his mind! How can the Head of Secondary respond like that to a child who is feeling down? 

Let me start with a metaphor. We all know that cow dung is a natural fertiliser. Despite its unappealing look, it brings plenty of benefits to the environment. It can even be used to produce biogas to generate electricity. It is incredible that such an ugly looking thing can be transformed into something so useful. 

I see a clear connection between sadness and dung. Sadness is a negative emotion that, if managed appropriately, can also turn into something positive that can help us grow and develop as human beings. The same happens with anger or fear. The key is knowing how to respond to them when they come our way.

We have all experienced sadness in many situations throughout our lives. Be it because we have lost contact with someone we love, over the death of a relative, having achieved a grade we were not expecting or any other reason that might make us feel a bit gloomy. It is sometimes difficult to know what to do with such a feeling. We are so used to instant gratification, so obsessed with finding happiness, that when we experience sadness, we want a solution NOW! We start wondering if we should see someone about it, read a self-help book or even download a mobile app.

I recently read in a newspaper article that numerous studies have shown that our obsession with happiness may be making us less content with our lives. Furthermore, researchers have found that accepting and embracing temporary sadness helps improve attention to detail, increases perseverance, promotes generosity and makes us grateful for what we have. 

We will perhaps be happier when we stop focusing on becoming happy. They say that the secret to happiness is to get better at feeling sad.

I hope you have a nice weekend.

Francisco Escobar
Head of Secondary

Darren Roth
Headteacher Secondary

Earned his BA(Hons) in English Literature from Cardiff University before completing his teaching qualification as a secondary English teacher at Swansea University. Over 17 years in South Wales, he held roles including Head of English, Head of Sixth Form, and senior management before joining Aloha College Marbella in 2012. A passionate educator, Darren finds immense satisfaction in students’ success.

His diverse interests extend beyond the classroom. Darren obtained his pilot’s licence at 17 through a Royal Air Force scholarship and continued training for years. He volunteered in the Camp America scheme, played water polo for Wales Under 18s, and taught children to swim.
Outside of his professional and athletic pursuits, Darren enjoys reading, cycling, and walking his rescue Yorkshire Terrier, Charley. A paddleboarding enthusiast, he finds joy in outdoor activities. Darren also has a flair for cooking and delights in preparing meals for friends. He holds a special affection for the Andalusian sunshine and seizes every opportunity to explore Spain and beyond.

Earned his BA(Hons) in English Literature from Cardiff University before completing his teaching qualification as a secondary English teacher at Swansea University. Over 17 years in South Wales, he held roles including Head of English, Head of Sixth Form, and senior management before joining Aloha College Marbella in 2012. A passionate educator, Darren finds immense satisfaction in students’ success.

His diverse interests extend beyond the classroom. Darren obtained his pilot’s licence at 17 through a Royal Air Force scholarship and continued training for years. He volunteered in the Camp America scheme, played water polo for Wales Under 18s, and taught children to swim.

Outside of his professional and athletic pursuits, Darren enjoys reading, cycling, and walking his rescue Yorkshire Terrier, Charley. A paddleboarding enthusiast, he finds joy in outdoor activities. Darren also has a flair for cooking and delights in preparing meals for friends. He holds a special affection for the Andalusian sunshine and seizes every opportunity to explore Spain and beyond.

Louise Verinder
Designated Safeguarding Lead & Pastoral Care

Louise earned her BA Hons degree from Edge Hill University and went on to complete her PGCE. With a lifelong passion for sports, she always knew she wanted to become a PE teacher. She excelled, particularly in sports acrobatics, earning the honor of representing Great Britain. For fourteen years, she served as head of PE in Chorley, in the north-west of England, before embarking on what was supposed to be a year’s sabbatical in Spain.

Louise joined Aloha College in 2014 as a part-time teacher of PE. A couple of years later, she transitioned into the role of pastoral care, a role that she absolutely loves. Tasked with leading the secondary school’s PSHEE program and serving as the Designated Safeguarding Lead, she finds great pleasure in developing positive working relationships with teenagers, supporting their mental health and wellbeing, helping develop their self-esteem and confidence, as well as helping them navigate the challenges of life!
Louise is passionate about learning and developing her skillset. She is an accredited life coach with the ICF, specializing in working with teenagers. She has studied for a Diploma in NLP and has recently been awarded a Level 5 Diploma in Trauma and Mental Health-Informed Schools and Communities. 
Outside of teaching, Louise loves the simple things in life. Spending time with her family and friends, travelling, and spending time outside hiking, skiing and paddleboarding. She loves good food and she feels truly blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
Sara Dickie
Head of Key Stage 2

Graduated from the University of Plymouth with a BEd (hons) specialising in English Literature and teaching children in the primary age range.  For the next 17 years, Sara worked in large, central and outer London schools.  As a senior leader in the UK, Sara raised attainment and supported curriculum development across groups of schools in the local area and worked with the local education authority to provide training across boroughs. She ensured the success of school improvement in roles such as leader of English, Maths and SEND provision over the years.  Sara moved to Spain in 2017 and is currently our Head of Key Stage 2.  

Sara has travelled to many fascinating destinations across the globe and still counts travel as one of her interests.  However, she now spends more time at her rural finca in the Andalucian mountains than ever before due to the increasing number of rescue animals she supports.  Outside of education, Sara loves to spend time in the countryside with her horses, dogs and many other animals under her care. 
Liz Keys
Teaching & Learning

Liz gained a BA.Hons degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Hull.  After her PGCE  she began her teaching career at a state Primary School in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Her passion for teaching and her love of travel soon prompted her to take up her next role as a Reception class teacher at Bangkok Patana School in Thailand where she gained invaluable experience of working in an international environment. 

A desire to move closer to the UK prompted Liz to join Aloha College Marbella in 1997 where she has been a Key Stage leader in both KS1 & KS2. She is passionate about providing children with a Creative Curriculum which  provides exciting stimuli and first-hand learning experiences. Her interests are reading, travel and sampling different cuisines.
Anna Sweeting
Head of Key Stage 3 and Enrichment

Completed her degree in Business, Accounting and Finance, then later a Certificate in Mathematics. Having worked in banking, accounting and education finance she started teaching by founding a tuition company in 2006 and lecturing part-time in a further education college. These both grew, and a decision was made to sell the business and lecture full time, while also leading GCSE Maths. Anna made the move to secondary education in 2015, then joined Aloha College in 2016.

Anna loves inspiring students to try new things and to grasp opportunities, you never know where they will lead! She enjoys performing in theatre shows and singing, but the most drama in her life comes from being an avid follower of Blackpool FC, a curse that she has passed on to her two sons.
Jacqueline Brice
Head of Key Stage 4

Achieved a first class Honours degree in Mathematics and Physics from Kings College London before pursuing a career in broadcasting. She indulged her curiosity in the latest scientific and technological advances as a producer of scientific documentaries for BBC Radio and Television and then moved into fly-on-the-wall documentary making for Channel 4 with the police and the Royal Navy. Her broadcasting career has taken her flying through thunderstorms with lightning chasers in North Dakota, to crime scenes with the Metropolitan Police murder squad and from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious to Gibraltar by Sea King helicopter. 

As her young family took priority in her life, she turned her degree into a Post Graduate Certificate of Education and brought her family to Spain, where she has continued to share her love of mathematics, science and life-long learning with the students of Aloha College for almost two decades. Over the years, she has thoroughly enjoyed leading the Mathematics Department and Key Stage 3 and now she is working as the Head of Key Stage 4, hoping to instill a love for learning and international travel in our young adults and to encourage them to value a broad range of creative, analytical and communication skills.
Ellen Richards
Head of EYFS

Studied at the University of Chester where she completed her BEd (Hons) in  Primary education, specialising in the Early Years. She believes there is no age range more exciting and inspiring with which to work, and feels fortunate to have truly found her vocation. 

Ellen has taught at international schools in Guangzhou, China, Bangkok, Thailand and London, UK, before joining the Aloha College Marbella team in 2018 where she is currently Head of Foundation Stage. Having attended international schools herself in Maseru, Lesotho, Yokohama, Japan and South Wales in the UK, Ellen feels a strong sense of belonging within our multicultural community.
Outside of work, Ellen is most content exploring all and any creative pursuits, be it in a rather haphazard way! What she lacks in finesse she makes up for in enthusiasm, and will happily while away the weekend with her sewing machine. 
Elaine McGirl
Head of Key Stage 5

An experienced educator with over two decades of expertise in the field of science and education. Originally from Ireland, Elaine graduated with Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Limerick after earning a Bachelor of Science in Education majoring in Biology and Chemistry. 

Driven by a passion for understanding how students learn best, Elaine has held diverse roles in education, including lecturing and tutoring in educational psychology to undergraduate students. She has extensive experience teaching various curricula, including the International Baccalaureate, A Levels and the Irish Leaving certificate, providing her with a comprehensive understanding of various educational systems. 
In 2007, Elaine joined Aloha College Marbella, where she has served as an IB and A-Level Biology teacher, General Science teacher, and Head of the Science Department. Currently, she holds the position of Head of Sixth Form and IB Diploma Programme Coordinator, demonstrating her leadership and commitment to guiding students towards academic excellence and personal growth.
Outside of teaching, Elaine enjoys Irish dancing, Flamenco, and salsa. She can play several instruments from her days in a youth marching band. Elaine loves traveling, trying new foods, and spending time with animals.
Anne Ross
Head of Key Stage 1

Began her teaching career with a Foundation Degree in Early Years from the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland. She managed and developed a Nursery School in the Highlands for several years and was very involved in raising the awareness and the importance of Early Years education throughout many schools in the Highlands and North of Scotland. Anne then furthered her studies, experience and expertise by gaining a PGCE at the University of Buckingham to further her career in Primary education.

At Aloha Anne has always been passionate about extending her knowledge and learning, she is currently studying to become a certified Well-Being coach. She is a strong advocate of student wellbeing, emotional intelligence and social development, these important life skills ensure our students emerge more resilient and ready to face future adversities. 
Even though Anne has lived in Spain for over 20 years, she loves to explore Spain’s rich culture and many hidden treasures. She is an enthusiastic traveller with a love for diverse destinations and learning from different cultures. Anne has always been passionate about sports and keeping fit and in her spare time she loves Crossfit classes, family time and reading.
Emma Saunders
Primary Designated Safeguarding Lead & Pastoral Car

Emma has dedicated her entire teaching and professional career to ACM. A Saint Mary’s University London honour’s graduate, holding a Masters Degree in International Education from Oxford Brookes, Emma has shaped her career into a student-centric narrative. Her experience and research into “Third Culture Kids’, which recognises our students unique educational, international and Spanish experience, was used in crafting and developing the Primary PSHEE programme, facilitating essential skills appropriate to academic, psychological and emotional well-being.

Emma’s professionalism at Charity, is helping change lives for the vulnerable, in Málaga and Africa where ACM has initiated educational programmes in Kampala. Her work as a rapporteur for the COBIS ConnectED sessions is established and recognised. As a qualified Catechist, Emma’s Pastoral Care role is busy and engaging. As a safeguarding expert and officer, fluent in Spanish, Emma analyses the latest programmes, developments and policies, at national and International level.
As a former ballerina, Emma trained young dancers for school shows and Marbella events in modern/Irish dance, and regularly performed in her native West End. Emma also enjoys entertaining family and friends, however Tara the Afghan Hound as the newest member of the Saunders family, is the one who now steals the show!
Kate Edwards
Headteacher Primary

Kate graduated from the University of Central England with a BEd (Hons) in Primary Education, specialising in the Early Years. As an experienced leader in both UK and international educational settings, Kate is committed to providing students with a learning environment that celebrates effort and achievement in both academic and personal endeavors. In July 2019, Kate, completed the Cobis Program for Aspiring Heads, before taking on her first headship with us in 2023. 

In her spare time, Kate loves spending time with her husband and three children. They often enjoy trips to the park, constructing Lego masterpieces, strolls along the beach and splashing about in the pool. When time allows, Kate also loves to bake.  At home you’ll often find her whipping up a storm in the kitchen. Rumour has it, she dreams of donning the iconic apron on the Great British Bake Off one day! 
Víctor Ranea
Head of Administration

Víctor Ranea se unió al colegio como Business Manager en 2003. Lideró el proceso de transición entre la antigua compañía y la fundación actual. Como responsable del área de Administración, ha participado en varios Planes Estratégicos. Además de las finanzas y los Presupuestos Generales, ha dirigido los proyectos constructivos del colegio y contribuido en los planes de marketing así como en la implementación de nuevos sistemas informáticos del área de finanzas.

Licenciado en Ciencias Economicas y Empresariales por la Universidad de Málaga, Víctor Ranea es un apasionado del deporte, con experiencia en competiciones regionales, habiendo contribuido a la creación de los clubs deportivos del colegio. Un amante de los viajes y la gastronomía, así como de la música, el teatro y el cine.