The Principal is responsible to the Governing Council for the overall strategic direction of George Watson’s College, the safe and effective provision of education within agreed financial parameters and the relationships that the school enjoys within the City of Edinburgh and further afield. The Heads of Junior School and Senior School have delegated responsibility for the leadership of their respective schools within the overall George Watson’s College strategy. They and the Principal are members of the Principal's Leadership Team which also comprises the Bursar, Chief Operating Officer and Director of Admissions, Communications & Development.
Principal's Leadership Team
Melvyn Roffe has been Principal of George Watson’s College since 2014, having previously been an English teacher, the academic deputy head of a school in Wales and the head of two state boarding schools in England. He has also held a number of non-executive positions in the education and voluntary sectors and his articles can often be seen in the educational press and online. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an Honorary Fellow of the College of Optometrists and a Burgess of the City of Edinburgh. Melvyn has been elected to serve as the Chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference for the 2022/23 Session.
In August 2024, we will be welcoming Lisa Kerr as the fifth Principal of George Watson's College, succeeding Melvyn after 10 years. Lisa is a well-known and highly respected figure in Scottish education, having been Principal of Gordonstoun since 2017 where she has led a programme of capital investment, academic improvement and international development.
George SalmondHead of Junior School
George Salmond joined George Watson’s College as a class teacher in 1995, gaining promotion to a series of leadership roles and being appointed Head of the Junior School in 2016. He and the Junior School Leadership Team focus on the wellbeing of Junior School pupils, the effectiveness of their learning and of the teaching, care services and enrichment activities that give them such a positive start to their educational journey. George is a former Scotland cricket captain who participated in the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the 1999 World Cup. He also had nine seasons as a football referee in the Scottish professional leagues and can still sometimes be heard as a cricket pundit on Scottish media outlets.
Director of Admissions, Marketing and Development
Karen Goodman’s key areas of responsibility are fundraising and engaging with former pupils and the wider Watsonian community as well as managing and supporting the Admissions, Marketing and Partnership teams. Karen has over 40 years experience in alumni, development, marketing and international recruitment in the Scottish higher education sector before coming to Watson’s in 2018.
Louise Clarke is a Watsonian (Class of 1996) and returned to Watson's as Head of Modern Languages in 2019 after serving as Head of Languages, Deputy Head of Sixth Form and Head of Lower School elsewhere in Edinburgh. She was appointed to the Principal's Leadership Team in August 2022 to take forward a number of whole-school projects and to provide additional leadership capacity during the Principal's tenure as Chair of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.
The Junior School Leadership Team
Learning and Teaching
Primary 4 – Primary 7
Learning and Teaching
Preschool – Primary 3
The Senior School Leadership Team
Learning and Teaching
Curriculum and Exams
The Governing Council provides strategic oversight and works with the Principal and his leadership team to develop the medium and long term direction of the School. The Chair is appointed by the Merchant Company Education Board and three other Governors are appointed by the Master’s Court of the Royal Company of Merchants of the City of Edinburgh. The Principal is a member of the Governing Council ex officio whilst other Governors are appointed by co-option based upon the skills and experience that they can bring to the Council.
Much of the work of the Governing Council is undertaken by its committees. They can co-opt additional members who are not Governors to assist their work.
Chair of Governing Council and ex officio member of all committees
Member of the Finance Committee
Dr Michael Carslaw
Chair of the Education and Pupil Wellbeing Committee
Member of the External Relations and Development Committee
Chair of the External Relations and Development Committee