Scholars International Academy

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Educators with years of international teaching and leadership experience, who hold higher education degrees give our Senior Leadership Team the pedigree of superior qualifications to lead academics and school life at SIA.

The Senior Leadership Team’s goal is to create a high-quality educational atmosphere for your children that focuses not only on a strong academic program, but also develops values of trust, good behavior, tolerance, and honesty to make them responsible individuals in a global society of the future.

Senior Leadership Team

Mr. James Batts


MSc (Hons), BSc (Hons), PGCE,


A passionate educator and school leader, Mr. James Batts places the happiness and success of children at the heart of his professional practice. His drive to develop provision and ‘support children and young adults to be the best they can be’ through growing and enhancing global competency skills in this ever-changing world is truly admirable. His purpose in education is to develop a learning approach that recognizes that all learners have the potential to achieve the highest results and place emphasis on developing attitudes and characteristics. Excellence is what he hopes to drive at SIA.

Alongside SIA stakeholders, Mr. Batts works hard to continue the legacy of success that has already been established. He continues to build strong relationships with our parents, learners, and the extended community. In effect, he aspires to inspire the next generation of learners and create an environment where your children can thrive. In his own words,

There is no limit to what is achievable.

 – Mr. James Batts

Ms. Heather French - EYFS Head at SIA

Ms. Heather French


Ms. Heather French worked around the world in International Schools for over 20 years. Before her role as Phase Head for EYFS at SIA, she was a classroom teacher, a subject coordinator, and the Head of British Curriculum in many Outstanding Primary Schools. She had the privilege to teach in countries such as Tunisia, Greece, Spain, and all around the UAE. 

She is also an inspired author, having written a series of books for primary children, and a motivated educator for providing hundreds of training for teachers and parents all around the world. Ms. French believes that children need opportunities to learn through play and ‘hands on’ active learning because it is only when children are happy, confident, and engaged that they can truly unlock their full potential. 

She also believes that every child is following their own individual Learning Pathway and as an educator, her purpose is to facilitate the very best journey possible for our children at SIA.

Mr. Danny Mellor - Primary Head at SIA

Mr. Danny Mellor

Primary Head

For over 25 years, Mr. Danny Mellor had the privilege to work in a wide range of schools within the U.K. and other parts of the world. He has successfully developed and led high performing teams in pursuit of improving outcomes for students while at the same time fostering a supportive working environment.

He holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (P.G.C.E.) and a National Qualification for Headship (N.Q.P.H). Mr. Mellor believes in the importance of self-discipline, setting rigorous expectations, and creating a culture of success and achievement for staff and students alike. Excellence is what he hopes to drive at SIA.

Ms. Kush Bains - Secondary Head at SIA

Ms. Kush Bains

Secondary Head

Ms. Kush Bains has over 24 years’ experience as an educator and senior leader working in the UK and more recently, in the GCC.  Holding a Bachelor of Arts degree and a National Professional Qualification for Headship, she has held senior leadership positions in 5 schools and is now taking on her third Head Teacher position after having successful supported her previous school through the prestigious WASC accreditation process. 

Having gained significant experience is the area of student pastoral care and guidance as the senior leader responsible for Post 16 provision, Ms. Bains has also led on the use of assessment and data, directed SEN provision and been a key leader for school transformation.

Ms. Bains has a passion for student-centred learning and is focussed on further developing high performance learning approaches for her students.  With high standards expected of staff and students, her leadership style is supportive yet challenging believing that establishing clear systems and focussing on outcomes is the key to success for everyone.

Ms. Bains brings with her a wealth of experience across a range of schools and a real commitment to her students believing that no students should be left behind and that everyone can and should achieve their goals.


Ms. Dizzy Airoldi

Inclusion and Well-being Champion

Ms. Dizzy Airoldi has worked in a pilot school for Inclusion in Cape Town South Africa for 3 years and later moved to the Gulf. Before her role as Well Being Champion at SIA, she was a classroom teacher and has experience in whole class teaching for Primary and Secondary English as well EAL. In the past 7 years in the Gulf, she has used her classroom experience to facilitate Learning Support and SEN teaching across schools in Gulf for learners from Early years to year 12. 

Ms. Airoldi’s academic achievements include Psychology, Linguistics as well as a Post Graduate certificate in English. She is a qualified Registered Test User and Administrator, accredited by the British Psychology Society and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Education in Special Needs (MEd.SEND).

She sees herself as a global citizen, since she has lived all over the globe since 2003 in various employment and management capacities and brings a wealth of knowledge to the SIA team. Her teaching philosophy is that “Every child has the right to quality education and I bound myself to that morally”.

Ms. Srishti Chopra - Head of Administration at SIA

Ms. Srishti Chopra

Head of Administration

With over 18 years of leading operations in the hospitality industry, Ms. Srishti Chopra’s focus is to provide a safe and enriching environment for all students and staff as the Head of Operations at SIA. For over 15 years, UAE has been her home. Another interesting fact is that she holds a bachelor’s degree in Alternative Medicine and Surgery.

Ms. Chopra believes in the importance of driving and leading a culture of high-quality service. She constantly works with our facility and safety teams to enhance the infrastructure and environment at SIA, thus providing a superior experience for our children, parents, and staff. From executing the movement from the Sharjah campus, her aim has always been to drive service culture at every step. She leads a great support service team that ensures the academic team has the right support to deliver outstanding education for our students.

Assistant Phase Heads

Ms. Daisy Hutton - Assistant Phase Head EYFS and Lower Primary

Ms. Daisy Hutton

Assistant Phase Head EYFS
and Lower Primary

Ms. Daisy Hutton has worked at SIA for ten years. She has been lucky enough to work across Foundation 1, Foundation 2 and Year 1. Ms. Hutton completed her PGCE, (specialising in Early Years) in the UK and has recently completed her NPQSL. She is a very dedicated, enthusiastic and passionate teacher. She believes that happy learners learn wanting to harness their energy, enthusiasm and building on those light bulb moments that all learners have every day. Ms. Hutton knows that learners learn by exploring and using a variety of resources with a hands-on approach. Each learner is on their own learning journey and Ms. Hutton is so excited to be a part of their journey.

Ms. Tanita McCarthy - Assistant Phase Head Primary at SIA

Ms. Tanita McCarthy

Assistant Phase Head Primary

Ms. Tanita McCarthy has been teaching for over 12 years and has experience in the leading of teaching and learning across different year groups and in an international setting. She is passionate about education and seeing every learner develop holistically. Her educational philosophy includes providing the best possible environment which encourages all learners to be the best they can be. Ms. McCarthy holds a Bachelor of Education and believes in everyone being a life-long learner.

Mr. Donal O’ Callaghan - Assistant Phase Head Secondary at SIA

Mr. Donal O’ Callaghan

Assistant Phase Head Secondary

Mr. Donal O’ Callaghan is the Assistant Phase Head for Secondary with responsibility for Curriculum, Exams, Timetabling and Data. Donal has been a member of the SIA family for the past 6 years. He has worked as a Geography teacher in our Secondary phase teaching students from Year 7 to Year 13. He introduced our IGCSE and A Level Geography curriculum to SIA which has gone from strength to strength each year. He has studied his PGCE with the University of Sunderland in the UK and also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Limerick in Ireland. Mr. Callaghan is a firm believer in knowing all learners have unlimited potential that just needs to be unlocked to help them be the best they can be. He loves to see learners rise to challenges and push themselves in all aspects of their school life.’

Ms. Fareeha Nadkar - Assistant Head Teaching and Learning (Secondary) and Well-being

Ms. Fareeha Nadkar

Assistant Head Teaching and Learning (Secondary) and Well-being

With over 17 years of experience in the field of education in various teaching and leadership roles, Ms. Nadkar’s first love has always been teaching. A passionate educator, her practice is driven by two motives – to create a safe space for every learner who walks into the school and to instil a love for learning in them.

Having worked as a Special Needs teacher  and a SENCO for over 10 years, she truly believes that no child should be left behind and that our role as educators is to ensure that we encourage learners to develop the skill sets that will help them to become learners for life.

She has completed her PGCE and B. Ed in Special Needs Education, has a Masters in Educational Leadership and Management and is currently completing her NPQSL qualification.

In her role as Assistant Head, she will be leading Teaching and Learning in Secondary and will look after Staff Wellbeing for the whole school. In this role, she aspires to create a school culture where all learners and staff feel supported and motivated to try new things, take risks, and strive to become the best version of themselves.

Mr. Andy Collins - Assistant Head Pastoral and Enrichment at SIA

Mr. Andy Collins

Assistant Head Pastoral and Enrichment

Mr. Andy Collins has over 12 years’ experience as an educator and senior leader working in the UK, most recently as a Senior University Lecturer before moving to the UAE. 

Mr. Collins holds a first class Bachelors and Masters Degree and has a real passion for student-centred learning and has aspirational expectations for all.  He is a committed and passionate leader, with extensive experience leading and managing different teams in environments ranging from recreational to highly competitive.

As the Assistant Head for Pastoral and Enrichment, Mr. Collins will work with all learners, parents and staff within the SIA community ensuring everyone has the opportunity to be the best they can be.

Mr. Collins is committed to developing our school’s enrichment programme, providing opportunities for all of our learners to take part in extracurricular activities and a range of events to enhance their physical, social and mental well-being. Mr. Collins will be embedding charitable activities, mindfulness and sustainability into the curriculum whilst working on multiple events and projects across the school and beyond.

Corporate Governance

Ms. Janet O’ Keeffe - Executive Principal and Governor for Safeguarding & Inclusion at SIA

Ms. Janet O’ Keeffe

Executive Principal and

Governor for Safeguarding & Inclusion

Ms. Janet O’ Keeffe is the Executive Principal & the Governor for Safeguarding and Inclusion across all Scholars International Group (SIG) schools. Her role is to support and hold school leadership to account in realizing the school’s improvement plans while fulfilling the school’s vision and mission as the leading progressive school in the UAE. Prior to joining SIG, Ms. O’ Keeffe was the driving force leading accrediting qualifications and growth of the Fortes schools in Dubai, as well as the chain of Jumeirah International Nurseries. She has lived and worked in Dubai for 20 years. During that time, she has taken on multiple leadership positions including Head of School, Head of School Operations and Corporate Advisor. The schools she oversaw achieved very good and outstanding inspection ratings from the KHDA and are recognized for delivering innovative curricular in the UAE.

In her new role at SIG schools, she will work closely with senior leadership teams to ensure that our schools achieve the highest standards and accreditation ratings in each area of school life and academic curriculum.

Mr. Dileep Menon - Director of Operations at SIA

Mr. Dileep Menon

Director of Operations

Mr. Dileep Menon, Director of Operations, oversees operations and campus improvements across Scholars International Group portfolio of schools. Prior to his move to Dubai, he headed Indian operations for the parent company. Working closely with school leadership and administrators, he will ensure each school’s ability to meet current and future operational, administrative and facility challenges.
Mr. Menon holds an MBA from the Manderson Graduate School of Business at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, USA, and a Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) in Industrial Engineering from the Kolhapur Institute of Technology, Shivaji University, India. He brings vast experience across several industries including education, financial services, real estate, and hospitality to SIG management and operations.

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