Parent Newsletter 6 March

Dear parents,

I hope you have all enjoyed a half term break with your families despite the lack of sunshine. 

Safe return
You will have seen yesterday’s Covid letter which shared with you the good news that all our pupils and staff have returned safely to school. 

Trial Examination Results
Year 11 and 13 pupils face uncertainties and concerns about their external exams due to the situation with Covid. Despite this, the results of some of their recent trial examinations made me very happy indeed. Congratulations to all those pupils for facing current challenges with resilience and effort, and still managing to smile. Keep up your hard work and motivation, it will bear fruit! All our pupils deserve success. 

School environment
The secondary school is a pleasure to walk around. The corridors and open spaces are brimming with outstanding pieces of artwork, all telling their own stories. 

Photographs of Head Students, School Council, Pupil Voice, Makers club team and school events decorate the corridors and classrooms, helping to make the place a vibrant environment for learning. 

The Primary School is the same. Children’s work is gloriously displayed everywhere, encouraging all to be proud of their achievements. Despite you the parents not being able to visit, and the fact that many of our annual events are not taking place, we have still not allowed Covid to lower our spirit, our efforts and our standards. The whole college looks as good as ever! 

New member of staff
We are pleased to welcome Athanasios Spyropoulos to our Secondary School as a teacher of mathematics.

El Mundo
Further congratulations are due to the Board of Trustees, you the parents, management, staff and pupils for enabling us to be ranked among the top 6 international schools in Andalucia. These scores are not awarded lightly so we can definitely be proud of the prestige bestowed upon us. You can follow us on social media to be aware of all our news.

I hope you have a lovely, hopefully not too wet, weekend with your families.


Welcome back after the half-term break. I hope you enjoyed time with your children, despite there not being a lot of sunshine. The children appeared delighted to be back with their friends, and have worked and played hard this short week.

My letter this week has lots of good news.

Maternity leave
Firstly, we welcome back Mrs Anne Ross (Year 3 teacher) and Miss Kate Edwards (Year 2 teacher) following their maternity leave. The children were very happy to see them, as were the staff!!

Miss Emily Selmes, who left us a short time ago to start her maternity leave, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Enzo, on Wednesday. Congratulations to Miss Emily.

The only time I claim priority in school is to follow our in-house rule whereby I get the first cuddle of all new additions to our Aloha family!!!

Before I carry on with more great news, I need to inform you all of something that has caused us great distress during half term.

It has been brought to our attention that some pupils have experimented with a website called Omegle. One of our Primary students had a nasty experience and was approached inappropriately whilst using this website at home. Please be aware that this is not an appropriate site for young children and it is reported to have been infiltrated by predators. It is of the utmost importance now, more than ever, that we are vigilant in monitoring our children’s activities online and that each of their devices is secured with appropriate safeguarding control.

Nursery excitement
Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, these were the words I heard in Nursery on Thursday when the children arrived to find a large, tall beanstalk had appeared in their classroom. They were fascinated by the possibility of a giant visiting their classroom during the evening!

New pupils
We welcome 3 new children to our wonderful school, we hope they and their families are made to feel welcome.

Maths Certificates – A big well done to everyone from Mrs Fox to all the children who have been working hard on their maths activities online this past half term. Certificates and five house points go to all of the children mentioned below. Keep up the good work everyone! Let’s see who wins at the end of next half term!

Earned the most coins in NUMBOTS: 

  • Year 1: Celine Hagbo, Ivo Piwek and Matisse Eghdamian Daemi
  • Year 2: Marvin Matter, Youna Delavari and Jenna Wahlroos 

Collected the most coins in TTRockStars:

  • Year 2: Henry Howard and Delin Khan Mamakaev and Alejandro Escarcena Rivas
  • Year 3: Neo Powell, Alisiia Luchko and Leo Apaydin
  • Year 4: Soraya Rohayem El Khayati, Fernando Fay Pérez and Aurelia Howard
  • Year 5: Morgane Matter, Rafael Tye and Lana El-Rais
  • Year 6: Yohan Le Courvennec, Zlata Luchko, Laura Eggens and Iker Ortigosa Maldonado  

Collected the most stars in Doodle Maths:

  • Year 4: Soraya Rohayem El Khayati, Arseniy Dishdishyan and José Gutierrez Villafranca
  • Year 5: Olivia Nakpil Bueno, Daniel O‘Hayon Karlov and Diego Veit Urbano  

Played the most on Manga High:

  • Year 6: Elin Höglund, Zlata Luchko and Yousef Toubah

Our ACM February’s Personal Learning Goal was TO BE INQUISITIVE

Congratulations to the following children, who received the Blossom award: 


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

Every week there is an act of kindness from Sophie (1MTI). Here she is!

Finally, the news you have been waiting for!

I promised that I would find the best person to become the new Head of the Primary section of the school. And I kept my word!! I am delighted to say that after a worldwide search, 136 applications and numerous lengthy and arduous interviews, we have appointed a new Headteacher who will take up her position in September 2021. 

Her name is Miss Rebecca Eldred. She is currently an Assistant Headteacher at a well-established school in Dubai. Your children asked me to find someone who was kind, caring, clever, pretty, strict, fair, experienced and funny – Miss Eldred ticks all the boxes. They even told me that they didn’t care if he/she was as old as me – well, she is not! Although she does talk a lot like me!!!
The process, I repeat, was long. However, myself and the Board of Trustees were unanimous in our first choice and we are excited for the future of the Primary School.

Rebecca is really looking forward to the challenge of taking our excellent Primary School forward into the future. I know you will all make her welcome in September. We are all looking forward to her arrival.

After a great week, I wish you and your families a lovely safe weekend.

Yours sincerely

Elizabeth Batchelor


Dear Parents,

I hope you have had a nice half term break. Last week I received a letter from Mateo, my godson. He loves sending me letters through the post. He is 9 years old and a very able writer. There was a drawing at the bottom of the letter- I have not yet figured out if it’s an elephant or a dog. Drawing is definitely not Mateo’s strength! I called my cousin (Mateo’s mother) to say how much I enjoyed reading his letter. She answered the phone by saying: ”Isn’t Mateo great at drawing?” I paused for a second and replied: “Up there with Picasso!” She told me off for being so critical about her perfect, beautiful and clever 9 year-old son. 

I tried to explain to her that the reason why Mateo continues to draw such misshapen animals is because she has overpraised him and continues to do so for something he is terrible at. Mateo now believes that he is as good as Rembrandt! When I spoke to Mateo and said what I thought of his drawing skills he sounded confused. This is because I was judging it differently to what he is used to. 

Now, I am sure that many of you are thinking: “Come on Mr Escobar, he is only a child.” 

I am not saying that we must criticise all the time, but too much praise can be very damaging. I know that it can feel a little disheartening when, after putting a lot of effort into something, we are told that it is not good enough. 

Séneca once said: “Admire those who attempt great things, even though they fail.”

I agree with Séneca, especially because we have a tendency to have a high regard for those who succeed and forget the ones who try their hardest but do not quite make it. I always encourage our students to try. However, Mateo has tried multiple times without much success.  Wouldn’t it be wiser if he invested the time and effort into improving his writing? This is an area where he has shown so much potential.

It would not be fair if I kept praising my lovely godson about his artistic talent when there isn’t one. I will, of course, praise the effort he puts into things, but it would be dishonest of me to lie just to save his feelings. If he then continues to draw because it is what he really enjoys doing, great! At the end of the day, we have to do whatever makes us happy.

Telling our children that everything they do is excellent does not build their self-esteem. When we grow up hearing, “you are the best,” or, “you are so bright,” it is then hard to do something that you know you probably will not be good at. 

I cannot wait to read Mateo’s next letter! I wonder if he will draw anything this time.

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.