Thursday 16 February 2023

Dear Parents and Guardians,


It has been some time since I last put pen to paper. The year has got off to a flying start and, incredibly,
we are half-way through the term. A lot of water has passed under the bridge already and I have no doubt
that your children will have many stories to tell as they catch up with you.

Quite a number of visitors have been through the school in recent weeks. As part of our membership of
the Headmasters Conference (HMC – UK) we hosted a small team of Heads on an accreditation visit.

Peterhouse has enjoyed a connection with HMC over many years and our visitors were here to benchmark
the school in line with our ongoing membership of the organisation. During their time in the school, they
engaged with staff and pupils to gain an appreciation of how the school goes about its business and what
might be the core concerns related to independent education in Zimbabwe. We also welcomed Howard
Blackett back to Peterhouse in his new role as Head of International Member Services at HMC. While not
part of the accreditation team, he did attend and spoke on independent education in the UK at an ATS
mini-conference in Nyanga. On their departure, our visitors spoke highly of their interactions and their
time with us. We look forward to their final report which will give us invaluable feedback on where we,
as a school, can continue to grow and refine our educational offering. Our membership of an international
organization such as the HMC reinforces the importance of international benchmarking and recognition,
which Peterhouse continually looks to to ensure that we provide a globally competitive educational

This week we also hosted the Mission Week team. As part of our ongoing spiritual development in the
school we encourage a wider exposure and expression of faith through activities which reach out beyond
the Chapel. This week’s events provided the pupils with a real opportunity to question and reinforce their
own faith through conversations with team members, as well as through less formal meetings and
concerts. Thanks to all the team members, the school Chaplains, and Shakes Mpofu in particular, for
facilitating this opportunity for our pupils.

On a more serious note, the media, both social and print, have in recent weeks, highlighted concerns
surrounding the increased use of “substances” amongst teenagers in Zimbabwe. Underage alcohol
consumption, vaping, and proliferation of the availability of drugs in the country are cause for significant
concern. We would be naïve if we were to under-estimate the extent and impact of this problem within
school communities. As a school, through our life skills programme, we actively engage with our pupils
on the issues related to both alcohol and drug abuse. Our approach is twofold: first it is educational and
highlights the risks, and the other, a disciplinary code in which we make it very clear how the school will
respond to the use of these “substances”.

While all of this is in place, there is a need for a broader and more comprehensive approach to managing
our concerns. I have, over time, emphasised the importance of the “partnership” between parents and the
school. This is a time where that partnership could not be more important, given that the source of
harmful substances is, primarily, from outside of the school. While we have programmes in place to help
educate our pupils on the dangers of alcohol and drugs, we need to tackle the source of the problem,
which is availability. This is where we seek your assistance, and ask for support in the following areas:
 Firstly, both alcohol and drugs are costly, and we ask that you as parents limit, within reason, the
amount of money your children have access to, both at and away from school. There are concerns
that the issue of substance abuse is fuelled by teenagers with large “disposable incomes”. Equally,
the literature tells us that by monitoring your children’s spending habits you will very quickly pick
up signs of “substance” use.

 Secondly, know who your children are socialising with and where they may be when away from
home. Teenage social circles are wide and in some cases they may be socialising beyond their
school network.

 Thirdly, without being overly draconian, set boundaries related to what your children can do over
weekends and during school holidays. It is OK to say “no” at times, even if “all their friends” are
being allowed to do it. You will be surprised how many other parents are on your side and saying
“no” as well.

 Lastly, be on the lookout for unusual behavioural traits, particularly when they return from
functions or have been out. Be comfortable to ask questions about the activities that your children
have been involved in. Probe the monosyllabic answers and look for detail in what they have been
up to.

Your children will be exposed to drugs and alcohol during their school journey. Collectively, it is our
responsibility to ensure that we are educating them to make the right choices. Awareness of the issues
goes a long way to ensuring that we can tackle the growing prevalence of addictive substances in the

As we move into the second half of the term we will see a shift towards the start of the winter sport
season. Equally, our athletes will be exposed to a wide range of internal and external competition. Please
note for your diaries that the Inter-house Sports Day takes place on Sunday 26 February. Based on some
of our athletes’ recent performances, it promises to be a great day of athletics. Our Rowers will, after a
long break, be returning in early March (4/5 March) to the South African Rowing Championship at
Roodeplaat. The school will also be formally opening and dedicating the Michael Johnson Rowing Centre
on 24 February. Our cricketers will be travelling to South Africa at the invitation of the Oppenheimer
family where they will be taking on an Oppenheimer XI in Midrand on 4 March. Whilst on the sporting
front, our projects continue to evolve and take shape. The Astroturf “carpet” has been installed and work
now continues apace on all the ancillary services which we hope will be completed by the Easter holiday.
All things being equal we will be playing on this new surface at the beginning of next term. With respect
to the new pool, the rainy season has proven to be very disruptive. Consequently, construction has been
put on hold until 1 April (rains permitting). We are at critical point in the construction which could,
potentially, be seriously compromised by heavy rain. Work on some of the ancillary aspects of the project
(piping, pumphouse, etc) is ongoing.

For the Petrean community, there are a number of events coming up in the second half of term. There are
two functions for Petreans in South Africa. Petreans will be meeting on Thursday 2 March in Cape Town,
and in Johannesburg on Friday 3 March. The Petrean AGM and Sports Day will be hosted at the school
on Sunday 26 March. Hopefully as many Petreans as possible can make it to these events – please pass on
the information to Petreans who may not receive this letter.

The weekly Assemblies this term have reflected the broadness of activities which engage our pupils. The
school has, across the full range of our sporting and cultural offerings, enjoyed much success. This is
reflective of the hard work of both players and coaches in the first half of this term. There is, equally, an
encouraging energy in the classroom, and we have just completed a thorough and complete audit of our
2022 examination results. This has been an excellent exercise which will add much to our academic
planning and expectations for this year.

To those who are new to the community, I do hope that over the last six weeks your sons and daughters
have started to settle in to their school environment and that it is starting to feel more familiar to them.
Any transition into a new space takes time and it is my hope that being “new’ to the school has come with
the appropriate levels of support.

The imminent change of seasons brings with it a new dimension and dynamic. I look forward to catching
up with you around the sports fields as we shift towards the athletics and winter sports season.

With regards,
Jon Trafford


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