Parent Newsletter 20 March

Dear parents,

I trust you have enjoyed a happy and healthy week. 

I have been trying to be super fit to shed some kilos but after seeing the Year 8 Chocolate Challenge today my enthusiasm for dieting has waned! 

Year 8 were asked to form a company and, in their house teams, they had to design, package, market and promote a new brand of chocolate. They worked in groups to develop teamwork and to help cultivate their entrepreneurial talents. 

A team of judges selected the winning marketing campaign, they received chocolate prizes and pupil profile points. 

Congratulations to all who participated. Well done to the winners, Cordoba!

Next week Year 9 will participate in a similar challenge – watch this space!

Thank you for your feedback last week regarding the younger children; secondary parents often forget the beginning of their own child’s school experience. You all agreed our young children are so precious. Our EYFS department is an outstanding section of the college, as we can see:

School reports
Next Friday your child’s school report will be uploaded on the parent portal. Please address any issues to the relevant key stage leader. Please remember that you may not receive an instant reply as staff, like you, have all broken up for a well-earned rest.

Email addresses:

Mrs Emma Matthews Head of Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception) –
Ms Kate Edwards, Head of Key Stage 1 (Year 1 and Year 2) –
Ms Liz Keys, Head of Lower Key Stage 2 (Year 3 and Year 4) –
Mr Pete Smith, Head of Upper Key Stage 2 (Year 5 and Year 6) –
Mrs Emma Saunders, (Pastoral matters in Primary) –
Mr Diego García, (Spanish in Primary) –
Mrs Jacqueline Brice, Head of Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 and 9) –
Mr Darren Roth, Head of Key Stage 4 (Year 10 and Year 11) –
Ms Elaine McGirl, Head of Key Stage 5 (Year 12 and Year 13) –
Ms Louise Verinder (Pastoral matters in Secondary) –
Mr Francisco Escobar, (Head Teacher Secondary School) –
Mrs Elizabeth Batchelor, (Principal) –

Speaking about my staff I cannot thank them enough for the daily efforts that they make to keep your children safe and educate them so well in such unprecedented times. Thank you for all the positive communications I receive appreciating their efforts. It means a lot to them.

In closing, I want to reiterate my gratitude for your continued support. I wish you and your families good health and good spirits. Warmer weather and better times are ahead. 

Next week there will be no “normal” newsletter as we shall write to you about an important initiative we will be launching in school.


I hope you have all enjoyed a wonderful week. The short video below was presented to each class on Monday morning and the Value of Respect discussed at length. Your beautiful children were stopping in the corridors wishing me Happy Mother’s Day, saying how sad they were that my mum is no longer here and sharing loving stories about their mums!

New Pupil’s Spanish Prowess
We welcomed Sara Nejno (5ES) last week from Poland. She joined us speaking minimum Spanish and not writing in this language. Maddie kindly brought her to my office to show me a piece of independent Spanish writing; it was amazing! Well done Sara and once again thank you Maddie, my superstar of kindness in the Primary section.

Miss Lucy Atkinson
I have great sadness and heartfelt joy to share with you regarding Miss Lucy Atkinson, teacher of Year 2. Miss Atkinson’s mum sadly passed away very suddenly, and for this we offered her our deepest condolences. Miss Atkinson then went into early labour and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Oliver, who had to remain in hospital for a short while, but is now safely home. Our thoughts are needed for Miss Atkinson at this very difficult time.

Children’s Progress
Children in Miss Lynn Tarry’s class have been very busy bees this week with some  much-improved writing skills. Miss Lynn was, and I am, very proud of Stefaniia. Well done superstar!

‘Quiet Area’ Garden
Miss Freeman’s class has been very busy helping to weed and water the plants in the ‘quiet area’ terrace. They have brought in stones to weigh down the ‘rain catchers’ so they won’t blow away. We are now going to put into place a compost bin so the plant waste can be put there. Thank you children!

In Spanish Class on World Book Day, Years 4, 5 and 6 discussed their favourite books and authors and then decorated their butterflies using the newly acquired book vocabulary. What a lovely celebration!

School Bags
I have expressed concerns before about the size of some school bags. At times when I see the children coming up the stairs trying to manage oversized bags with nothing in them, I am concerned. The children only require at the moment, under Covid restrictions, a bottle of water, a reading book and their homework. The PE kit is not required as children are wearing it to school.

In order to help social distancing we have removed some furniture from rooms, therefore allowing more space. Freeing up the room from oversized bags will also help with this. Please discuss bags with your child and even whether a bag is necessary at all during this time.

Have a lovely weekend.

March Personal Learning Goal – TO BE A COMMUNICATOR
Next week’s Aloha Value  – RESILIENCE             


Elizabeth Batchelor


Dear Parents,

This week, I met a Year 12 student who wanted my advice on her future career. She explained that she has always wanted to be an engineer so she chose Physics and Mathematics at Higher Level in KS5. However, things seem to have changed recently and she does not have the same passion for one of her subjects anymore. She is thinking about neuropsychology instead of engineering. Oh dear! What do we do now? 

The student said that her peers know what they are going to study when they leave school next year, and this worries her because it is like going back a step for her. I told her that it is wise to consider changing before starting a course she is not going to enjoy. She is thinking that a gap year might be a good idea before she decides what and where next. Many people in her position would have stuck to their original plans for no other reason than just taking the path one is expected to take when you are about to finish your last school year. I love the fact that this student is questioning and not conforming to what seems to be the established way.

Our belief system dictates what we are meant to do at every stage of our life. It is as if everything is programmed into us before we are born: we go to school, choose a degree course, study at university, find a job, get married, get a mortgage to buy a house, have children, have grandchildren and retire. Who, at 17, really knows the subjects they want to study or the job they will be doing for the rest of their lives? Students, at this age, do not even know who they truly are or where their true talents and interests lie, let alone be able to decide the path their lives will take. 

Our beliefs are so deeply rooted into our mental map that it is difficult to challenge them. Beliefs that are too ingrained serve only to stop you from getting closer to where you plan to go. It is like carrying a rucksack filled with heavy stones. When you start dropping these stones you have carried for years, you evolve and grow.

Our student who originally wanted to be an engineer can definitely become an outstanding neuropsychologist. Yes, of course she will need to spend extra time studying subjects such as Biology, but that is just a matter of getting on and doing it. The important thing is that she would be doing something she truly believes in and loves and not something that has been decided for her.

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.