"Our staff are our greatest asset"

Dubai International Academy Al Barsha teachers are highly qualified, experienced and caring. With staff from over 30 different countries, we are proudly international, creating a welcoming environment for all students.

Our teachers provide inspiring learning which develops students’ knowledge, application and skills, whilst encouraging students to “take action” to improve our local and global communities. Students are supported in their academic, social and emotional learning to help them reach their goals and take ownership of their own future.

Teachers are provided with Continuous Professional Development, through external IB training, NPQ leadership qualifications and internal personlised training programmes as well as benefitting from access to exceptional facilities and resources.

We value staff wellbeing and seek to develop a sense of belonging, purpose and collegiality amongst staff, to provide students with happy, motivated and consistent teachers.

Our teachers are supported by excellent teaching assistants, learning support, administrative and facilities staff.

Innoventures Education Management
Poonam BhojaniCEO, Innoventures Education
Michael StephenDirector Finance and Administrator, Innoventures Education

Ian Thurston, Principal

Ian moved from the UK to Dubai in 2007 and has been in school leadership since 2013, holding positions such as Head of DP, Deputy Head Pastoral and Head of Secondary before becoming Principal. He holds a BA Economics from the University of Sheffield, a PGCE in Secondary Mathematics and most recently the NPQH from UCL. Ian joined Innoventures Education in 2021 as Principal at DIA Emirates Hills before transferring to DIA Al Barsha, his fourth school in Dubai. He loves sport, participating in triathlons, and nature, enjoying camping and hiking.

Primary Senior Leadership

Candice Combrinck, Head of Primary & Vice Principal

Ms Candice embarked on her Dubai adventure in 2010; since then, she has been a member of the Innoventures Education team. Graduating from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, with a Bachelor of Education degree (many moons ago), she commenced her PYP journey as a Year 6 teacher at DIA Emirates Hills, later progressing to roles such as PYP Coordinator, Deputy Head, and ultimately assuming the position of Head of Primary. In 2018, she took the helm as the founding Head of Primary at DIA Al Barsha. She firmly embraces the notion that coffee and chocolate possess the remarkable ability to unravel any problem.

Andrea Allmark, Deputy Head

Andrea is an experienced educator with 14 years of experience, she began her career after graduating from the National University of Galway in Ireland with a BA in Geography and Irish. After completing a Post Graduate Certificate in Education at the University of Stratford in London, Andrea specialized in Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) teaching for four years. She later became the Head of English at DIA Emirates Hills before joining Dubai International Academy Al Barsha as a founding teacher when it first opened. In her free time, she enjoys family moments, coffee, and Dubai shopping.

Tom Dymond, Deputy Head

Tom graduated from the University of Wales Aberystwyth with a degree in Education and Spanish. After completing his PGCE, he embarked on his teaching career and quickly progressed into positions of leadership and responsibility in London, UK. In 2021, he seized the opportunity to bring his expertise to DIA Al Barsha as Deputy Head. Alongside his passion for education, Tom enjoys keeping fit, engaging in sports and passionately supporting his beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers

Sonali Gupta, PYP Coordinator

Sonali boasts a vibrant teaching background beginning her international experience in Jakarta, Indonesia, where she began teaching in a PYP setting. Sonali holds a BA Honors in History and distinctions in Economics and Political Science with a Master of Science in Childhood Studies from Walden University, USA. A committed lifelong learner, she is presently pursuing a Leadership Program, NPQSL from LLSE. Her ongoing professional development includes numerous IB workshops, a TCWRP workshop from Columbia University, and an inquiry-based Maths program from the University of Texas. She has been an integral part of DIA Al Barsha since its inception. She is passionate about developing inquiry-based curriculum by providing students with agency. Her personal interests include yoga, dance, and managing her golden retriever's social media account.


Secondary Senior Leadership

Seán Quigley, Head of Secondary

Seán is a highly accomplished educational leader with a passion for nurturing students' growth and creating a dynamic learning environment. Seán has a BSc Honours in Natural Sciences from Trinity College Dublin, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education from NUIG and a Graduate Diploma in Educational Leadership (International) from the University of Limerick in Ireland. This specialized programme equipped him with the strategic vision and leadership acumen required to lead schools effectively in a rapidly evolving educational landscape. Arriving in 2009, Seán has years of experience teaching and leading schools in Dubai and has developed a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities presented by international education. He is a keen musician, performing regularly, and also enjoys cycling, sport of all kinds but Gaelic games in particular and apiary.

Abigail Ferrari, Deputy Head (Secondary)

Abigail graduated from the University of Kent with a BA Honours in English and American Literature and later pursued an MSc in Psychology from Birkbeck, University of London, and an MA in Education from Sheffield Hallam University. Her commitment to professional growth is ongoing as she is currently completing her NPQSL. Abigail has been a member of Innoventures Education since 2015, originally joining Raffles World Academy and then moving to Dubai International Academy Al Barsha in 2019. She has been the MYP, DP and CP Coordinator at DIA Barsha and is now currently serving as Deputy Head of Secondary.

Jameel Arif, Deputy Head (Secondary)

Jameel graduated from the University of Leicester with a BSc Honours in Biochemistry, followed by a PGCE in Secondary Science Education in the same university. He has taught locally in the UK and internationally in both Kuwait and the UAE. Jameel has held a number of leadership positions, including Head of Department, followed by becoming Assistant Head Teacher and then Deputy Head Teacher. As a lifelong learner, he completed his NPQSL in 2021 before joining DIA Barsha in 2022, as Deputy Head of Secondary. Jameel is responsible for teaching at MYP level, student wellbeing and academic progress.

Caterina Marras, MYP Coordinator

Caterina graduated summa sum laude in Philology and Italian Literature from the University of Cagliari. After completing her Teaching Training College Qualification in Literature, Humanities and Ancient Latin, Caterina became a Doctor in Philological Studies. Her PhD studies have been published and commended in several international conferences. She is now completing her NPQSL. She has been teaching in Middle and High Schools and Universities in three different continents. She joined Innoventures Education in 2021. She enjoys reading, opera and travelling.

Kate Vincze, DP/CP Coordinator

Kate is an advocate of holistic and student-centred learning. She completed her education in Hungary, where she first studied History and Russian at the University of Debrecen, later gaining a degree in English Language and Literature. Her teaching experience covers Hungarian and US curricula and is now fully committed to the International Baccalaureate. She taught History as a Fulbright scholar in the US, prior to spending more than two decades at UWC Atlantic in the UK, the founding college of the United World Colleges movement and one of the very first schools that introduced the IB. Kate joined DIA Al Barsha in 2023, having previous experience as IBDP Coordinator and Academic Director, gaining a wealth of experience in curriculum design, assessment strategies, student support, staff development, student and staff wellbeing and the university admissions process.

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