Sarah Watson-Saunders‎

Head of English and Media

Very much a polymath or, perhaps, if being described generously, a Renaissance woman. I have a background encompassing biology, religious studies and philosophy, but my great love is English. I am endlessly curious, I enjoy finding out new things and I am a voracious, and ridiculously fast, reader.  My husband and I have two daughters, one in Year 11 and one at university and we live in West Sussex with a range of fabulously friendly pets: huge dogs, guinea pigs, tortoise, gecko and a seven foot Boa Constrictor.

What work experiences led you to the role you are in today?

I have held various roles in the past in enormous schools such as Hurstpierpoint College, Worth and Brighton College.  The journey through house mistress roles, head of department roles and IB director too, led to me to becoming director of EDI in my last school. I believe that equity, diversity and Inclusion are vital for any school to progress as a community. However, having held this role, I realised I was missing the total immersion in my favourite subject, English, so I looked for a role where I could move back to being head of English. The Royal School offers me the wonderful chance to head up English and Media, very similar subjects in the way ‘texts’ are viewed, in a caring and very nurturing, heart-led environment.

What’s the most exciting project you’re working on right now? What makes it so interesting?

Building new schemes of work and introducing new texts, new writing scaffolds and essay prompts that will challenge and excite our pupils and thus help them to progress further. Helping those who think they are not great at English realise that they can be.

What do you love most about your job and why?

I love the multitude of ways a ‘text’ can be ‘read’. Every class, every pupil, approaches it from their own direction and the interpretations are endlessly fascinating. It is terrific to go into a lesson thinking about a text in one of many ways and then to find, by the end of the lesson, I have been challenged and have another new viewpoint to consider.  I would not cope with working in an office - being in a classroom with a lively class, ideas and thoughts flying around the room - that really is the most fun a job can be.

What is a fun fact no one knows about you?

I once appeared on Ready, Steady, Cook.  I am endlessly fascinated by fairytales,  folklore,  cooking and food history. I have lived in other countries and in each one tried to learn a bit about the cuisine.

Who inspires you and why?

As a child I thought I could grow up to be Gerald Durrell and I read all his books. His beliefs about the world, his ideas about conservation his work with all living things has shaped the way I live  and my feelings about life.

My parents were also hugely influential; my dad was a polymath, scientist, linguist, philosopher and orchestral conductor. My mum taught me to be passionate about food, caring for all, singing, music and the importance of stories.

And Terry Patchett, I love his philosophy of life, but more about him below.

Do you have any hidden talents or hobbies?

I am a qualified face-painter and body artist. I have worked for the FA at Wembley.

What single item would you take on a deserted island?

The complete works of Terry Pratchett. Since I was 11 his books, especially the Discworld series, have been part of my daily routine. I read them on a constantly circulating loop. His philosophies and world views are so much a part of everything I do.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

A huge cup of tea, a comfy sofa under a huge tree, my family nearby, Saint Saens organ symphony in the distance,  my dogs snuggled up and an enormous pile of books. That would be blissful.

Which #s best describe your personality?




Describe The Royal School in 3 words:




Your #FutureReady Top Tip?

A quote from Terry Pratchett that I live my life by:

‘Them as can has to do for them as can’t. And someone has to do for them as has no voice.'

Simply put, those that can should help those that can’t, and we should all make sure we especially look out for those who don’t get to have a say.