Boarding Team

Emma Picken

Head of Boarding
01483 813426

Sarah and Gideon van Niekerk

Head’s of Junior Boarding
01483 813102

Emma Unwin

Head of Sixth Form Boarding
01483 813102

Head’s of Junior Boarding

Gideon van Niekerk is originally from South Africa. Born into a family with a foundation in nature conservation and with three brothers as his ‘partners-in-crime’, the word ‘boredom’ simply never existed. Days were either spent exploring nature with a pair of binoculars around his neck and a camera in his hand, or battling it out with one of his brothers on a tennis court. Even though he discovered a passion for fraying his nerves on a unicycle and writing and illustrating children’s stories, he’s always known that education was where his heart belonged. Following this love of teaching, he has worked in boarding schools in South Africa, Switzerland and England, where he has seen time and time again, that the heart and soul of a school lies in boarding.

Sarah grew up in Leicester. She enjoyed playing the flute and dabbled in all things arty and crafty, but it was dancing that she loved the most. Never letting a chance to dance pass her by, from an early age she strutted her moves in every available dance class. When she was eighteen, she gained a place at the world famous Rambert School to train in ballet and contemporary dance. After graduating, she performed professionally and also shared her love of dance through teaching. When not in the dance studio, she would have been found exploring fantasy worlds through the pages of a vast collection of books or queuing up at midnight for her favourite book releases.

It was the hands of serendipity that guided Gideon and Sarah together; him as a spectator and her as a dancer entertaining a crowd in Covent Garden. Soon their family of two became three, with the birth of their son Reyn. Before he could even crawl, he had shown his own passion for stories through his obsession with dragons and peculiar creatures with knobbly knees and turned-out toes that dwell in woodlands. Together with their two black Labradors, Jessie and Ebony, the van Niekerk family are proud to be part of the Prior’s Field school community and become members of the boarding family.

There are a number of ways easily to contact staff in the Junior Boarding House: – via the generic email address:

The Junior Boarding House direct number is 01483 813102.

Head of Sixth Form Boarding

Mrs Emma Unwin was appointed Head of Sixth Form Boarding in January 2017, having been Assistant Housemistress of the Junior Boarding House for the previous two years. She lives on site with her husband Gareth, daughter Aria and Speagle (Spaniel Beagle) Rolo. Here she tells us about her role:

‘I work both within Boarding and as a teacher of Science. I absolutely love my job; I get to stretch the girls’ minds academically in lessons, but come back to the house in the evenings/weekends to spend time with the students in a completely different way. Outside of study time, we might do some baking, take Rolo for a walk,  have a chat over tea, or watch a film. For me it’s the perfect mix for a job and what being a whole, rounded, educator is all about. I have a degree in Zoology from Durham University and worked in Brighton in an International School, before going back to university to do my PGCE. Prior’s Field is my first teaching position and, strangely, I knew on the day of my interview that I had picked this school just as much as they had picked me for the job; I remember feeling like I had found home.’

A number of staff work and live alongside the girls in the Junior Boarding House or on-site: Additionally, Boarding Tutors work one evening a week in Junior Boarding. These are academic staff – teachers of PE, Textiles, History of Art and History respectively – and bring another element to the boarding community. 

Sixth Form Boarding email is and the direct telephone number is 01483 813106.

The first day I came to board I was greeted with friendly faces and smile. I felt really welcomed and have settled in very quickly.

Boarder on settling in

PRIOR’S FIELD, Priorsfield Road, Godalming, Surrey GU7 2RH United Kingdom

01483 810551