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Our Leadership Team

Forever learning, forever achieving...
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The Deira International School (DIS) leadership team is highly experienced and talented, with outstanding expertise in The National Curriculum for England and International Baccalaureate and the highest educational and ethical standards. The majority of leaders at DIS come from the United Kingdom and leading British international schools from around the world.

Sustainability

Simon O'Connor

DIRECTOR

DIRECTOR

Simon O'Connor

I am the Director of Deira International School with oversight over both the primary and secondary schools. I have over 25 years of experience in education and joined DIS in August of 2020. Before this I was Principal of Jumeirah College, an outstanding school in Dubai, since 2013 and am now one of the longest serving principals in British Premium Schools in Dubai. I am passionate about learning and ensuring all students are challenged in lessons in order for them to achieve their full potential. I strongly believe that if this is to be achieved students should be happy at school, and therefore the wellbeing of our community is a key focus for all of us here. Prior to moving to the UAE, I taught History and Politics for over 20 years in a variety of different school contexts. In my last role in the UK, I worked as a school leader in a very successful grammar school in Kent. My role there was curriculum lead and I was also responsible for the management of a teaching school and working across an academy chain of schools which I helped to found. My key education interests are teaching and learning, curriculum design and assessment and leadership models across schools. Within this context, I worked as an Associate with High Performance Learning and led the programme across ten GEMS schools. I am also very keen to develop the wider student experience, and this was the motivation for a recent link with ArtsEd theatre school. As a student I studied for a BA in History and Philosophy at the University of Wales, College of Cardiff where I was a choral scholar at Llandaff Cathedral. I then studied for a PGCE at Trinity College, Cambridge, where I was also a choral scholar. I also hold a Master’s Degree in Education Leadership, and a National Professional Qualification for Headship.

Sustainability

Douglas Pettitt

SECONDARY SCHOOL HEAD TEACHER

SECONDARY SCHOOL HEAD TEACHER

Douglas Pettitt

I am delighted and proud to be the Secondary Head Teacher at an exciting time in the Deira International School’s future development. I have been in the teaching profession for twenty-seven years and in a senior leadership role spanning eighteen years in a variety of secondary schools in the UK and now most recently in Dubai. My background and experience in teaching is Physical Education, Geography and Mathematics having qualified from Loughborough University, UK in 1993. I then went on to gain my National Professional Qualification for Headship in 2009 and led my first school as Head Teacher of Kingsmeadow School, Gateshead, UK in 2013. My most recent position since moving to Dubai in the summer of 2017 was as Secondary Principal at GEMS Wellington Academy Al Khail and after three years, establishing it as an ‘Outstanding’ British Overseas School. I was thrilled to join DIS this Autumn to further strengthen the leadership of the school. My extensive leadership experience especially at Key Stage 4 and 5 will provide strong strategic direction as students challenge themselves to be the best they can be at both at GCSE and IB qualifications.

Sustainability

Gaynor Dale

PRIMARY SCHOOL HEAD TEACHER

PRIMARY SCHOOL HEAD TEACHER

Gaynor Dale

With 25 years’ experience in education, this is my third position as a Headteacher and my second within Dubai, having been a Principal previously. Having spent 5 years as a leader within Dubai, it will be my pleasure to showcase the wonderful opportunities that await your child, especially in a school as well-established and community-focused as DIS. As a passionate advocate for empathetic leadership and quality first teaching and learning, I am delighted to support our talented teachers to develop innovative and purposeful practices within the Primary school. Our approaches result in students making great progress and being prepared not only for Secondary, but for life itself! We are a true team at DIS and one that shares a vision for continuing excellence across all year groups, areas of the curriculum and wider enrichment. Feel free to peruse our website or make an appointment to come and visit our wonderful school and view its facilities.

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Emma Hannon

SECONDARY SCHOOL DEPUTY HEAD TEACHER

SECONDARY SCHOOL DEPUTY HEAD TEACHER

Emma Hannon

I joined Deira International School this year as Deputy Headteacher in the secondary school. My key responsibility is pastoral support, and I am also the designated safeguarding officer for the secondary school. This means that I am responsible for ensuring our students are happy and safe. I have been teaching for 20 years and in senior leadership roles for 10 years, in London, Abu Dhabi and now Dubai. I studied for a degree in Politics at the University of Cardiff and qualified with a PGCE in History from the University of York in 2001. I have undertaken a variety of senior leadership positions in the UK, including Director of Sixth Form and Deputy Principal. Most recently I was Director of Digital and Innovative Learning across two schools in Abu Dhabi. I am very excited to be joining the team at DIS, and looking forward to ensuring that we continue to offer out students a positive and enriching experience while they are with us.

Sustainability

Sarah Marshall

PRIMARY SCHOOL DEPUTY HEAD TEACHER

PRIMARY SCHOOL DEPUTY HEAD TEACHER

Sarah Marshall

Prior to moving to Deira International School as the Primary Deputy Head Teacher in 2019, I was at GEMS Wellington International School for 8 years, an Outstanding Premium, through school in Dubai. During my time there I taught across key stages and developed as a leader; leading subject areas, year groups, developing the curriculum and the Deputy Head Teacher driving learning and teaching. Ever since I was 6 years old, I knew the teaching profession was for me. I steered my education around accomplishing this personal goal, achieving my BA Hons in Primary Education. My love for teaching has enabled me to become the dedicated practitioner I am today with over 14 years’ experience. At DIS we are deeply committed to ensuring children are given every opportunity to experience exceptional learning opportunities in enabling environments – safe, happy, challenged and successful, allowing them to fulfil their aspirations. One of many reasons I aspired to become a leader was to raise standards in learning and enhance teaching whilst playing a supporting role to fellow professionals. All children have the ability to fulfil their potential and it is our responsibility to draw upon each other’s strengths to make this possible. Children, staff and parents feeling proud of their efforts and achievements are key drivers for me professionally. Inspiring others to take risks, reach their goals and never giving up when faced with challenge, is for me what lifelong learning and education are all about.

Sustainability

Fiona Ryan

HEAD OF FOUNDATION STAGE

HEAD OF FOUNDATION STAGE

Fiona Ryan

My name is Fiona Ryan and I am from Co. Cork, Ireland. I am the Head of the fabulous Foundation Stage, my second year here in this role at DIS. I am delighted to be part of an Outstanding department, working alongside a team of highly experienced teachers from across the globe, to ensure students have the most positive first school experience possible. I attended Trinity College Dublin, where I studied through the Froebelian Teaching method, and my passion for play-based learning, multi-sensory approach to learning and teaching underpins our core values and aims within our department. I feel privileged to spend my days with the youngest members of our EYFS family, watching them flourish within safe and stimulating learning zones, enabling each child to surpass their own potential. Prior moving to the UAE I worked in Dublin, Ireland, where I specialised in Music therapy, Phonics and SEN. I have spent time volunteering in developing schools in Calcutta, India and in parts of South America. Before moving to DIS, my Senior leadership journey began in GEMS Wellington International School (WIS), Dubai. As Head of Foundation Stage at WIS, I am proud to say, our department were graded 10 years Outstanding by the KHDA. My last role at WIS being Assistant Head Teacher, overseeing transition from FS to KS1, ensuring our FS students are fully gripped with life-long skills, confidence and have the key foundations laid to ease a smooth move into the Primary school.

Sustainability

Mohammad Shah Ali

SECONDARY SCHOOL ASSISTANT HEAD TEACHER

SECONDARY SCHOOL ASSISTANT HEAD TEACHER

Mohammad Shah Ali

It is with great enthusiasm that I joined Deira International School. Along with the excitement, I am honoured to be a part of the DIS community and I realise the great responsibility that I have to inspire, empower, and influence our students. I have been in the teaching profession for fifteen years and most recently in Dubai as a middle leader helping GEMS Wellington International School helping to achieve their best school results. My background and experience in teaching is Mathematics having qualified from Queen Mary and Westfield University, UK in 2006 and gaining Qualified Teacher Status in 2007. This year, I am excited by the prospect of leading and developing outstanding practices, embedding new initiatives, and leading the KS4 team to secure excellent results. I am looking forward to supporting all our students to achieve their best in their IGCSE subjects and ensuring they have cemented the best foundations for their future careers.

Sustainability

Barry Lomas

SECONDARY SCHOOL ASSISTANT HEAD TEACHER

SECONDARY SCHOOL ASSISTANT HEAD TEACHER

Barry Lomas

I am extremely excited and proud to have joined Deira International School as Assistant Head Teacher. DIS is currently at an exciting stage in its development and I look forward to helping DIS staff, students and parents along this journey. This is my tenth year in the teaching profession, in which I have held various leadership positions both in the UK and more recently within Dubai as a Head of Sixth Form in a highly successful British Premium school. My subject specialism is Physical Education, which is a passion of mine, both in an educational setting and beyond. My sporting experience and skills cover a wide range of sports both as a player and coach. As a player I have played football, basketball, cricket and tennis through to county level. As coach I have had many successes all the way through to National level, leading various teams to both National and County success. I am very excited at the prospect of bringing similar success to DIS and building on the ‘We are DIS’ team ethos. I have a real interest around teaching and learning, curriculum design and the pastoral care of our students. I believe in developing our students holistically by offering them a wide range of experiences both inside and outside the classroom that are equipping them with the skills and knowledge to lead happy and successful lives in the future. I’m a firm believer that student success is not only measured by results, and the experiences students receive outside of the classroom are just as important as those in it. This said, our curriculum is developed to stretch and challenge all our students and is based on a solid grounding of academic excellence. Here at DIS we place a huge emphasis on not ceiling student achievement and believe all our students can be successful. Your involvement throughout the year and in your child’s, education can make all the difference and I would like to thank you in advance for your support.

Sustainability

Sarah Gray

PRIMARY SCHOOL ASSISTANT HEAD TEACHER

PRIMARY SCHOOL ASSISTANT HEAD TEACHER

Sarah Gray

I am delighted to have joined Deira International School as Primary Assistant Head this Summer. I have a first-class degree in Primary Education and 17 years’ experience within Primary and First Schools in the UK where I have been a senior leader and Deputy Headteacher for over 10 years with lots of partnership work across schools and clusters. My most recent role was as an Executive Deputy Headteacher working across 2 schools in Northumberland where I co-led a very effective shared leadership team. Some of my passions and key aspects of my role are leading Curriculum Design and Development, Assessment, English, History, Geography and PSHE leadership. I also hold my NPQH qualification and have completed training as a THRIVE practitioner for emotional well being and development. I am from the North East of England and am very proud of my roots. I have lived away and then returned to Northumberland when I began my own family. This is my first International role and I am very excited both to get started with the Deira International team and also for my own children to begin at DIS. I love my job and thrive on developing the skills and capacities of all staff and pupils to be the best they can be and to make a difference. The community focus and innovative approach to teaching and learning for all at DIS aligns perfectly with my own ethos for education. I truly believe that all schools, particularly those that strive to be outstanding, should be trail blazers for curriculum provision that enables us to equip our children to think for themselves and to make informed decisions to enhance their futures. I look forward to working towards this with the Deira team. I am forward-thinking and a firm believer in commitment to excellence through critical thinking; creative and inquiry based learning, innovation and enriched experiences that enable all pupils to be aspirational and ambitious. I believe in high standards and expectations and also think that our pupils should expect that from all staff too – our job truly is a privilege!

Sustainability

Scarlett Keyworth

HEAD OF STUDENT EXPERIENCE

HEAD OF STUDENT EXPERIENCE

Scarlett Keyworth

Within the DIS community I am primarily known as the Head of Performing Arts and have been fortunate enough to lead and develop an outstanding Drama department, working with young individuals with much talent and boundless energy for the Arts and Performance. As I step into the senior leadership team, I am excited to drive forward the student experience for both our primary and secondary school students, ensuring they leave DIS with a rich profile and an abundance of memories to last a lifetime. My key educational interests revolve around the development of the whole child and Holistic Education, which was a key line of inquiry for me when studying an MA in Global Education from The University of Sheffield, UK in 2017. I am an advocate for student voice and strongly believe in the classroom and beyond. I aim to provide a variety of opportunities and learning experiences for every child to develop and grow as a global citizen, whilst finding their individual talent, specialism and a love of learning. I am excited to be working with all the great individuals here at DIS and build upon the strong community we have here.

Sustainability

Sarah Howard

PRIMARY SCHOOL ASSISTANT HEAD TEACHER

PRIMARY SCHOOL ASSISTANT HEAD TEACHER

Sarah Howard

I joined Deira International School as Assistant Head last academic year. I have 11 years of educational experience, teaching across all year groups in the primary phase, developing as a leader. My previous post was at GEMS Wellington International School as Assistant Head of Learning and Teaching. Further leadership roles in the UK and Dubai include; EYFS Lead, Coaching and Mentoring Lead and Deputy Head for Learning, Teaching and Assessment. I am passionate about learning and teaching, aiming to empower teachers to step outside their comfort zones and take risks to develop innovative practices, accelerate children’s progress and create extraordinary learning opportunities for children. I really enjoy being part of the DIS community and am looking forward to continuing my leadership journey working with the children, parents and staff.

Sustainability

Iman Fattoum

HEAD OF ARABIC

HEAD OF ARABIC

Iman Fattoum

Hi, my name is Iman Fattoum, and I am very excited to join the DIS community. I have been working in Dubai as a teacher and Head of Department since 2013 in IB and British schools. Prior to that, I worked in teaching, managing the development of school programs and delivery of learning experiences, assisting in training teachers for content delivery, and developing national strategies to enhance some important notions such as interactive learning and active citizenship in schools in conjunction with different NGOs in Syria. I am passionate about every student in Dubai learning Arabic and using it in their daily life. In addition, I am keen to see these students fulfill their potential and discover their abilities and skills to thrive in Arabic and other aspects. I believe that learning Arabic is not only learning a language, but also about ways of thinking and a culture. As my first own students inspired me to study my MA in Educational Leadership and Innovation (Warwick University/ UK) to make a difference in their learning journey, the students in other schools have added invaluable experience to my personal and professional journey which – I am sure- will be the case in DIS.

Sustainability

Lisa Boer

HEAD OF INCLUSION

HEAD OF INCLUSION

Lisa Boer

Hi, my name is Lisa Boer, and I am very excited to join the DIS community. I have been working in Dubai since 2012 at Gems WSO, and for the past five years, I have overseen the 'outstanding' Inclusion department in Primary. One of the best things about working in Dubai is meeting a diverse range of children and families. I feel fortunate to do what I do. I obtained a BA in Primary teaching and Early Childhood Education from Lancaster University. During my teaching career, I realised that my true passion was inclusion, helping to identify and overcome barriers within the learning environment. I have since completed the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination, an NPQ in Senior Leadership and a Masters degree in Special Educational Needs. I am a lifelong learner in constant pursuit of development and always driven to learn more. I am passionate about every child thriving in an academic environment and ensuring they fulfill their true potential. I genuinely believe the key to supporting our students of determination lies in understanding teachers, parents who never give up and a society that provides them with opportunities.

Sustainability

Nicholas Bloom

HEAD OF ASSESSMENT

HEAD OF ASSESSMENT

Nicholas Bloom

Team Content

Sustainability

Helen Wallis

HEAD OF IB

HEAD OF IB

Helen Wallis

I am delighted to be moving into the role of Head of IB at Deira International School. Having twenty years of educational experience in both the UK and across the world, most recently as Head of English at DIS and Assistant Head (Teaching and Learning) in China, I have the firm belief that good teaching is the key that can unlock every student's potential. I follow an educational philosophy of inclusivity and the IB's commitment to providing a pathway for every student is fully supportive of that. As a believer in holistic education, I have worked in various schools on the development of Learner Attributes matched to the IB Learner Profile. I am excited to see how, in my new role as Head of IB, these skills can be further embedded in the whole school curriculum and ensure that DIS produces students that achieve their potential and become the leaders of tomorrow. I am dedicated to excellence and will, as Head of IB, work to provide innovative and inspiring provision for DIS IB students. I am thrilled to be welcoming students into the new IB Learning Hub and all the opportunities that space will provide.

Sustainability

Maria Evangelista

Associate Assistant Head Teacher (Primary)

Associate Assistant Head Teacher (Primary)

Maria Evangelista

After completing my PGCE at UCL Institute of Education in 2008, I worked in outstanding Primary School settings in London until I made the move to Dubai in 2015. I worked at GEMs Wellington International School as a class teacher and Head of Year for six years. As a leader at WIS, some of my successes included developing teachers into middle leaders, raising standards in the year group and driving provision for ELL children. I received my NPQ for Senior Leadership before moving to Deira International School. I pride myself with building positive relationships with students, staff and parents, ensuring that our students are happy, respectful and kind. I am excited to join the leadership team at Deira International School to ensure children are taught the skills to be life long learners and well rounded global citizens. The development of the whole child is a key focus for me and we are always striving for new opportunities to allow our students to flourish in as wide a range of activities and subjects as possible, showing them there are many alternate routes to success.

Sustainability

Shauneen Scullion

Associate Assistant Head Teacher (Secondary)

Associate Assistant Head Teacher (Secondary)

Shauneen Scullion

Having joined the DIS family earlier this year as Head of Commerce, I am excited and privileged to be joining the dynamic senior leadership team and continuing to be part of a broader talented team who have the student at the heart of everything they do. Before entering into the teaching profession, I worked in private industry in the areas of finance and operations. I transitioned into teaching in 2008 and since then I have held a number of different posts at middle and senior levels in an array of different school settings in the UK. I am excited about continuing my career in an international setting having moved to Dubai in 2020. I am a firm believer in lifelong learning and hold a number of qualifications from UK universities. I firmly believe in the school's vision and its continuous approach of striving for excellence along with the key values that the school upholds so rigorously, is and will continue to be fundamental in facilitating every student reaching their true potential here at Deira International school. Being a reflective educator I am continually looking at new ways to improve the educational experiences of young people, both inside and outside the classroom. Through the creation of these bespoke learning opportunities, I aim to ensure that every young person feels valued and supported facilitating them into becoming well rounded young people. As an educational practitioner, I encourage young people to be risk takers through continuously challenging them and pushing them outside of their comfort zone. It is only then, I believe, they will realise and reach their true potential. Ultimately, my aim as a new member of the DIS community is to inspire our young people to believe, strive to succeed and support them in achieving their ambitions & aspirations. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a young person flourish through helping them develop a growth mindset and have a love of learning that will go beyond their school years. After all, our motto here at Deira International School is “Forever learning, forever achieving”.