The Positive Teacher Feature: Farhaan Abdulla Patel

The Positive Teacher Feature: Farhaan Abdulla Patel

Positive Teacher Feature 5: meet Farhaan! 

We love to celebrate positivity in the teaching profession and head teacher, Farhaan Patel, clearly has it in bucket-loads (for starters, his name means 'happy')! Mr Patel's story is certainly inspiring: from charity work as a student he is now the head of a large international school and offers some wonderful pearls of wisdom for teachers and school leaders. An amazing journey so far!  

Name: Farhaan Abdulla Patel (@DeputyDifferent)


Head teacher of a large International School (approx 1300 wonderful young people) in the UAE. The main language spoken in the country I now call home is Arabic. In Arabic my name (‘Farhaan’) means ‘happy’. So I’m often referred to as ‘Mr Happy’ by colleagues and asked by students ‘Are YOU Happy?’

Why did you get into teaching?

I did an undergraduate degree in Psychology and was on track follow a career path that lead me to the world of psychotherapy. As part of this, I did some work with a charity during those legendary summer vacations between academic years at University. The charity work involved working with vulnerable young people and I was mightily impressed by their resilience and good cheer, despite the difficult circumstances they were in. And so the career ‘wind of change’ blew and…the rest is history.

What are your top tips for positivity and excitement within your role?

As a school leader, I quickly learnt that ‘I am the weather’. Being in the desert, the sun is always out to remind me that it is my responsibility to help people- despite the rigorous demands of the job- to keep shining.

I try to do this in a number ways:

  1. I smile- a lot! It really does help
  2. I start many of my emails with ‘Dear shining lights…’- not for everyone but it reminds people that they have a light to shine.
  3. I quote the poetry of Rumi whenever I get the chance; Rumi poetry always helps to ground me so why not share it, right?
  4. I try my very best to put myself in the shoes of all the people in my (rather large) team and I feel that I am struggling to move in those shoes, then the owner of said shoes may need some help or support or I I may need to reassess something. Empathy is key in leadership.
  5. I introduced a whole school hashtag-  #together- which helps people understand that ultimately our strength is in our togetherness. Pour energy into the maintaining of strong professional bonds between colleagues
  6. As a school leader know that when someone comes to you with something, it may placed at number 46 on your priority list but for them it may be number one. Leave people better than you found them.

Looking back, what advice would you give your NQT/Trainee self?

‘Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.’ It’s a roller coaster- stay on. You got this.

What's the best thing about being a teacher?

The daily interactions with the wonderful young people we work with. Simples.

Would you rather snort like a pig in the next staff meeting for 5 seconds (no explanation allowed!) or hide all of your school's glue sticks in your cupboard for a term (again, no explanation allowed, assuming you are caught!)?

That’s a tough one. As I lead CPD often and I am always looking to start on time by quietening down the room to a dramatic hush, I will go for the snorting. But please, can I ‘Baaaaaa’ like a sheep? Pleaseeeeee. The Year 2s loved it during my ‘The Boy who cried Wolf’ assembly (or, more likely, they were being kind)


Do you love teaching? If you'd like to nominate yourself or another teacher who you think deserves to be featured, please email us at We'd love to hear from you!