Meet the team: Aspen Heights British School

Meet the team: Aspen Heights British School
Meet the team: Aspen Heights British School
Published: 12 September 2017 - 7:20 a.m.
By: Parinaaz Navdar
Aspen Heights British School is one of six new private schools opening in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain this year.

We visited the school ahead of the opening to meet the senior leadership team.


Emma Shanahan has worked in education for almost 25 years, starting as a primary school teacher in London. She has held strategic leadership roles in high performing schools both in the UK and internationally, and has gained significant regional experience in the Middle East. Most recently, her successes locally has seen her former school being graded 'outstanding' in every category in the unified inspection framework in 2015-16.

Shanahan is experienced in establishing and facilitating processes for personal and organisational continuous evaluation and improvement, exemplified by the organisational attainment of the International Investors in People award.

Her philosophy of education is centred on building positive relationships, innovative and creative teaching to ensure all children make impressive progress, as well as building community learning and engagement.

A graduate of the University of Durham, Shanahan considers herself a lifelong learner, being awarded NPQH (National Professional Headship Qualification) in 2013, and receiving a MA(ed) (distinction) from Liverpool Hope University in 2016.


In her role as head of primary, Laura Miller works closely with teachers in key stage one and two to ensure learning is a focus for all and teaching is as effective, interesting and relevant as possible so that all children make amazing progress. Laura leads on internal and external assessments to ensure learning is pitched to children's precise next stage of development.

Miller is a dedicated and enthusiastic educational practitioner with over 12 years of teaching and leadership experience in both the UK and the UAE. She has previously worked in outstanding British primary schools in Abu Dhabi and, more recently, supported the transition and set up of a new primary through to secondary school.

Miller's previous roles include head of key stage 2 at Al Mamoura Academy in Abu Dhabi, as well as a teacher and key stage leader at Al Muna School across all primary year groups

In addition to this, she specialises in various subject areas, including literacy, mathematics, science, and personal, social, health and citizenship education (PSHCE). During her time at Aldar Academies, she developed and delivered leading courses for parents and teachers, as well as writing a number of behaviour, induction and literacy policies.

Miller holds a Bachelor's Degree (HONS) in Childhood Studies from Birmingham University in the UK as well as a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). She's enthusiastic, dedicated and motivated in making sure children are given every chance to fulfil their potential in an engaging and creative way whilst supporting teachers and middle leaders to achieve this.


Helene Francis has more than 30 years' teaching experience. She started the first half of her career teaching second level Maths and Geography in Dublin, Ireland and St Alban's, United Kingdom. During this time, she was very involved in the President's/Duke of Edinburgh Awards, organising charitable work for students and outdoor adventure activities.

Following this experience 15 years ago, Francis returned to University to qualify in special education. Since then, she has worked with children with a wide variety of difficulties and/or disabilities; supporting them in mainstream schools, working closely with their families and outside supports and preparing them for appropriate examinations.

Francis moved to Abu Dhabi in 2014 and has been SENCO/PODCO/head of inclusion at the International Community School and Aldar Academies (Al Mushrif/Al Mamoura).

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