Leadership Team

Leadership Team

AJT AAESS LOGO2Principal: Andrew Thomas B.Ed (Hons) M.Phil NPQH

Main Responsibilities: Strategic Direction.

Faculty Link: ICT, Physical Education, SENCO & EAL.

Andrew worked for 17 years in one of the UK’s largest secondary academy’s in Devon, before joining AAESS.  He held many portfolios including Director of 6th Form, Head of Year 7 and Keys Stage 3 Manager.  Andrew trained as a PE teacher and undertook his Master’s degree with a leading professor in the UK, in ICT & Physical Education.  Andrew has given many conference speeches for BETT Middles East, The British Educational Research Association, and also at many Premier Football Clubs, including Chelsea and Arsenal!  His research has been published in many renowned journals.  He led a very successful ICT, Business & Law Faculty that saw results at A Level being in the top 5% of the UK.  Andrew enjoys skeet shooting and time with his wife, Georgia, and two sons, James & Ben.

Deputy Principal/Head of Secondary: Peter Gilmore B.A (Hons) PGCE NPQHpeter

Main Responsibilities: Secondary Teaching & Learning.

Faculty Link: Geography, History, Psychology & Economics

Peter grew up in South Wales and the East Midlands. He started his teaching career at Ratcliffe College, Leicestershire (an independent coeducational day and boarding school). He was appointed as a Geography teacher but was promoted to hold the positions of Head of Year and Head of Boys’ Boarding. In 1999, he had his first international posting in Switzerland and was appointed as Senior Boys’ Housemaster at Aiglon College. In 2003, he returned to the UK, to take up the role of Assistant Principal at Hockerill Anglo-European College, a hugely successful state boarding school in Hertfordshire. From there in 2010, he was appointed as Deputy Head at the British International School, Ho Chi Minh City.

Peter is resolutely committed to the values, principles and practices of international education and the potential that such education offers children. He believes that the work of international schools in multi-cultural communities represents one of the most powerful ways to enrich the lives of children, and quite simply, to make the world a better place. He is excited about  joining the vibrant community of AAESS and exploring all that the UAE offers.

Peter’s main interests lie with sport and music. Having played rugby to a professional standard in the past, he is still very passionate about the sport. This has included coaching opportunities, along with refereeing.  In addition to this, he still enjoys playing and coaching a number of sports including cricket, football and tennis. He is a competent and enthusiastic musician. His main instrument is the cornet/trumpet and he has enjoyed performing with prominent bands such as UB40 and Aswad, in addition to playing in some of the UK’s leading brass bands.

Peter is accompanied by his wife Michelle and their son Hadyn, who has joined Year 4. Michelle has joined AAESS as Whole School EAL Coordinator and is formerly the Head of Spanish at the British International School, Ho Chi Minh City, but has had a variety of roles that have included Housemistress, Head of Year and Head of ESOL. Hadyn is a keen sportsman. He already represents the school in swimming and enjoys all sports and music opportunities on offer.


Deputy Principal/Head of Primary: Helen McCauley B.Ed (Hons) First Class

Main Responsibilities: Primary Teaching & Learning. 

Faculty Link: English, Library & Registrar

Before moving to Al Ain to join AAESS in August 2013 Helen lived and worked in the West of Scotland.  She spent 13 years in her previous school which had been graded by Her Majesty’s Inspectorates (HMI) as one of the top performing primary schools in Scotland.  During Helen’s time in her previous employment she achieved Chartered Teacher Status and worked very closely with the Senior Leadership Team in improving standards across the school.  In addition, Helen also worked on curriculum development within her local authority and with Education Scotland (the national body for supporting quality and improvement in learning and teaching).  Helen is a 2nd level trained inspector with the British Schools Middle East.  She enjoys spending her holidays with her husband and 3 grown children who live and work across the UK.

Assistant Principal/Deputy Head of Primary:Chris

Chris Ebbinkhuysen H.D.E. A.C.E. (Leadership and Management)

Main Responsibilities:  Performance Management & Student & Staff Welfare.

Faculty Link: Maths, Social Studies & MFL

Chris completed his H.D.E (B. Ed Equivalency) Qualification in 1993, and started his career as a Year 4 teacher in January 1994. He has held many portfolios over the years, such as Subject Head of Science, Head of Years 4 and 5, Extra Curricular Coordinator and Head of Department Life Skills (Pastoral). During this time, he has served on a number of committees, focusing on improving and developing areas such as the raising of attainment and standards, extra-Curricular activities for children, school fundraising and managing the procurement of resources. He has also been very involved in the development of teachers and empowerment of parents, through leading many INSET initiatives and workshops.  In July 2003, Chris was promoted to the position of Deputy Principal at a large primary school in South Africa.  In 2010 he completed a further two years qualification in School Leadership, Administration and Management. Chris joined AAESS in August 2014 and was promoted to Deputy Head of Primary in August 2015. Chris is also the Youth Manager of the Al Ain Amblers Rugby club, realising the importance of sport in the development of our youth. He enjoys participating in all kinds of sport and spending quality time with his wife and two teenage children.

ZaheerAssistant Principal/Deputy Head of Secondary: Zaheer Abass BSc, HED (Distinction: Physics and Chemistry) 

Main Responsibilities: Progress & Data

Faculty Link: Science, Arabic & Islamic 

Zaheer graduated with the honour of being chosen as the best Physicist of his year while achieving distinctions in Physics and Chemistry. Zaheer started his teaching career in 1996 in South Africa. He joined AAESS in January 2002 as General Science and Physics teacher. In 2008 he was promoted to the Head of Science in the secondary school. Zaheer is particularly proud of students’ achievements in Science in his time at AAESS. Besides achieving outstanding results in Science, several students have extended their success in scientific careers worldwide.

Zaheer’s wife teaches English in the secondary school and his daughter attends the primary school. He enjoys running, cooking and body surfing.

Associate Principal: Suzy Eagles B.Ed (Hons)suzy

Main Responsibilities: Innovative Secondary Teaching & Learning & CPD.

Suzy worked in her previous school in the UK for over 9 years.  Working in an outstanding sports college, she has much experience and is an excellent Hockey player, having played National League for many years.  Suzy also fought at national level for Judo in her younger years, and was part of the England squad.

Suzy is very keen on outdoor education and enjoys being involved with school life here at AAESS.  She is passionate about seeing as many students get involved with ECAs and loves working with our students and parents alike.

Having a real love for sport, Suzy will have a go at anything! She recently ran a half marathon, which she thoroughly enjoyed (although her knees didn’t!).  From a young age she also played squash, a sport that many of her family played.

Originally from North Essex, very near to ‘Constable Country,’ Suzy spent her adult life in Devon before moving here to Al Ain, U.A.E.

In her spare time Suzy enjoys running and getting to know her new surroundings, here in Al Ain.


Associate Principal: Neil Rowley BSc (Hons) PGCE

Main Responsibilities: Secondary Pastoral & Transitions.

Neil loves Teaching and Geography, which is why he has been doing this for over 18 years. During his career in the UK, he was promoted to Head of Geography at Acklam Grange School in Middlesbrough. Having spent 7 wonderful years there, he and his wife Rebecca decided to move to Al Ain English Speaking School in 2009, for a new challenge. Initially, Neil was Head of Key Stage 4 and a teacher of Geography and P.E., but since that time he has been promoted to Head of Geography and Head of Key Stages 3 and 4 and is now part of the new senior leadership team as Associate Principal. During the 7 years he has spent in Al Ain, Neil’s family has grown and he now has two children, Joshua and Evelyn. Joshua started Foundation Stage 1 in August 2015 and is thoroughly enjoying the experiences and guidance given at AAESS. Evelyn will soon follow and as a result, Neil is committed to making sure that the education provided at AAESS is of the highest standard. Neil loves football both playing and supporting his hometown club, Middlesbrough who has just been promoted to the Premier League.

Associate Principal: Nicholas Poisat B.Ednic

Main Responsibilities: Innovative Secondary Teaching & Learning & CPD.

Nicholas grew up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He has been teaching in primary and secondary schools for the last eight years in Al Ain. He completed his studies in education through the University of South Africa. Most of his time is spent dedicating himself to finding new and innovative ways to helping children with different cultures and backgrounds learn. He also has a great interest in playing golf and fishing. Over the last four 4 years at AAESS, Nicholas has got to know many of the children in Primary and has had the privilege of working alongside a great primary teaching team.


Associate Principal: Mike Sommerville B.A.; Dip. Tchg; B.Ed.; PG Dip. Ed. L. (Distinction)

Main Responsibilities: Primary Transition & Curriculum.

Before arriving at AAESS, Mike spent his teaching career across several primary schools in New Zealand. His previous position was as Assistant Principal of Marian Catholic School in Hamilton where he taught for 10 years. He was in charge of Teaching and Learning across Years 5-8 and held the portfolio of school-wide curriculum development and shared portfolios of assessment and reporting. He presented at local conferences on curriculum development and at a nationwide conference on the development of school-wide values.

Mike is passionate about pedagogy and curriculum, and has a particular interest in developing collaboration and mutual understanding at school transition points.

Mike enjoys spending time with his wife, Arnna and children, Mollie, Abbie and Elliot who all attend AAESS. He is also a keen follower of rugby and supports the Chiefs and Highlanders at Super Rugby Level and of course, the All Blacks! He is currently the co-coach of the Under 11 Team at the Al Ain Amblers Rugby Club and enjoys exploring the off road challenges of Oman when he gets the chance. In quieter times he also enjoys writing, movies and reading widely.

Associate Principal: Feras Al Tahaineh B.A. feras

Main Responsibilities: Islamic and Arabic

Feras completed his Bachelor of Arts in Arabic Literature in 1998. He has vast experience teaching Arabic and Islamic studies in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE and has taught across all grade levels, both primary and secondary. He was previously Head of Islamic Studies. Currently Feras teaches Arabic. He Associate Principal, leading on Islamic and Arabic and is the Arabic liaison officer of the Secondary School.

Feras is a firm believer in “Education for All” and “Knowledge Society” and he has effectively dealt with students with differentiation while teaching, with more than 18 years of experience. He is an excellent student motivator, outstanding classroom manager, and goal-driven educator. Moreover, he is an effective communicator and resourceful teacher with proven ability to enhance students’ performance and dynamically maintains healthy relationships with students’ parents and participated in organising several school and local community events.

In his free time, Feras  enjoys reading world literature, watching movies and spending time with his family.