The ACS Cobham quad area

Our Founders

Find out more about the founders of ACS International Schools

Mr Gordon E Speed and Mr Emmanuel J Poularas

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Back in 1967 our founders opened their first school with one division and 35 students. Today ACS is a leader in the field of international education, enrolling 3,700 students, aged 2 – 18, at 3 schools in Greater London, and 1 in Doha, Qatar. Importantly, the ACS character Mr Speed and Mr Poularas created all those years ago remains fresh and constant – a genuinely caring, engaged community with a strong sense of its role and responsibilities to the local and global families we serve. A place where innovative teaching drives a dynamic learning environment.

Gordon E Speed (1935-2019) 
Mr. Speed was born into a Scottish-American family living in Florida USA, where he attended school and received his MA from Florida State University. After teaching in Florida, the Dominican Republic, France and Italy, Mr Speed moved to London in 1965.

Emmanuel J Poularas (1943-2008)
Mr. Poularas was born in 1943 into a Greek-Armenian family living in Port Said, Egypt. He came to London in 1962 and quickly progressed in the maritime industry.

Mr Poularas sadly passed away in 2008 shortly before ACS's 40th anniversary and Mr. Speed also sadly passed away in 2019 as ACS entered its 52nd year.

The ongoing success and ethos of ACS International Schools is testament to the vision and dedication of our co-founders.
ACS Hampstead Campus

Founding ACS International Schools

In 1967, Mr Speed and Mr Poularas founded ACS at Netherhall Gardens in Hampstead, London. At the time, both men were actively involved with every aspect of school life, from painting classrooms to registering admissions and leading field trips. Their energy and drive established the values and principles that continue to inspire and enrich our international community today, and guide us in our commitment to deliver excellence in all that we do.

Poularas PAC

E J Poularas Performing Arts Centre

In 2014, as ACS celebrated its 40th anniversary, we opened the magnificent E J Poularas Performing Arts Centre, with a 509-seat theatre at its heart – realising a dream he long held, yet never saw. It was an anniversary that meant a great deal to him, and stands in affirmation of his life's work.

Founder's Award Image

The Founders' Award

In 2008 ACS inaugurated the annual Founders' Award for students, which recognises academic achievement, contribution to school life, service to others, and exceptional leadership.

ACS Hillingdon Mansion House
At ACS we still feel and recognise their dedication to the long-term success of our 'family' of schools.
ACS International Schools