From the Rector’s Desk – 24/05/2023

Dear Parents and Guardians,


On 23 May 1953 (seventy years ago) Mrs Snell and Mrs Liddle laid the first bricks on the foundation of a staff house in what was, unofficially but symbolically, the birth of Peterhouse. In her Assembly this week, Mrs Mtakwa offered the boys’ a most incredible insight into the “Peterhouse dream” and how our founders laid the foundation for what was to emerge as one the continent’s leading independent schools. The actual “Foundation Stone” was laid in July 1954 and can be found in the building that now houses the Accounts Department and Staff Room. It was not until 3 February 1955 that school welcomed its first boys into the newly constructed Ellis House. In 1960, at Speech Day, Fred Snell in his Rector’s address, stated the following, “Some say there is no future in Africa. On the contrary, there is opportunity here as great or greater than anywhere in the world for any man willing who will think and act as a patriot, for the good of his country as a whole and for the welfare of all people in it. This school is not founded to defend embattled privilege; it was founded to help build the future of the nation. That is what we, who have the honour to serve in it, are determined to”. How these words continue to underlie our dream; a dream which is to serve our country, provide inspired leadership and produce young men and woman of courage, substance and character. As we celebrate Africa Day this week we must remind ourselves of all that we have and the privileges we so enjoy in an education that we hope will commit, inspire and motivate young men and women to provide this country, indeed this continent, with authentic leaders imbued with the spirit of service to others.

After what appeared to be an “extended” holiday break the return to school and subsequent weeks back in the classroom have flashed past in a bit of a blur. Such is the demands and expectations of the Trinity Term. There has, on the academic front been considerable activity as the school continues to review and re-evaluate both our teaching and learning environment. Mrs Scott Elliott has returned from a very fruitful tour of schools in England. The tour, prompted by the visit from the HMC, served a number of roles.

Firstly, Mrs Scott Elliot returned to the school reminded of the quality of our educational environment and what, we as a school, do in our classrooms. Additionally, in her conversations with colleagues in UK schools’ she recognized and appreciated that there are a number of innovative ideas in UK schools which would have merit in our context. She also enjoyed the chance to investigate the many aspects and areas of both curriculum and professional development English schools. With this in mind we are reviewing an enhanced, five year, strategic academic plan.

While the Easter holiday is now a distant memory, there were a good number of activities which involved both staff and pupils. The holiday started with Power Play Cricket Festival. Elsewhere, on the sporting front the Girls’ 1st XI hockey team enjoyed a successful tour to the KwaZulu Natal Midlands. The Boys’ soccer and hockey teams were in action at the St John’s Festival where they to enjoyed much success. The last weekend of the holiday had our rugby teams in camp training for to the start of the winter season.

Since that time much water has past under the bridge and we have enjoyed some wonderful exhibitions of sport. In this regard please can I appeal to parents to watch the updates in the calendar for all our sporting activities given there are, at times, some unavoidable changes to the calendar published at the beginning of term. Perhaps the highlight to the start of term was our ability to get onto the new astroturf. This facility is now in full use for practices and games. Currently, there is still a lot of ancillary work being done in the area surrounding the actual astroturf. Consequently, the facility will only be officially opened later in the term once all this construction work has been completed. News on the other major project, thepool at the Boys’ School, is that the builders are now back on site following the delay created by the rainy season; this extended well into April. Current timelines have completion for this project in August.

I would like, as parents, for you to support us on two fronts this term. On the sporting front we are very conscious that emotions can run high when watching your children play their games. While we work extremely hard to ensure that all our players show high degrees of sportsmanship and discipline on the sports fields this is not always the case for spectators. Our appeal is that, in watching games, we set the right example for our pupils. Outbursts, inappropriate remarks towards officials, and comments which undermine the tone and composure of a game are not part of our sporting ethos. Equally, the excessive consumption of alcohol during the course of a day sets the wrong example for our pupils. Both coaches and players work extremely hard to ensure that we are, week in and week out, at our competitive best. Poor spectator behaviour undermines all our efforts to ensuring games are played in the right spirit. Please do not embarrass your children through your comments and actions aside the sports field.

Secondly, I would like to reinforce my message in my Easter mid-term letter. We are all very conscious of the growing availability and use of both vaping devices and illegal substances. Tackling these issues is a collective responsibility. We, for our part, will continue to educate pupils in terms of the hazards associated with vaping and the use of illegal substances. Similarly, we will exercise our rights to respond, where appropriate, to the abuse of these substances. It should be noted that the school will, on reasonable suspicion, test pupils for drug use. Equally, we will institute appropriate responses to pupils who might be in breach of the schools illegal substance abuse policies; this includes alcohol. My appeal to you, as parents, is to support our efforts to ensure that we guide and support our pupils (your children) through this mine field. Again, I appeal for you to be very conscious of children’s movements, the circle within which they socialize and to manage pocket money so that it limits access to vaping, drugs and alcohol.
In closing, I would like to point out to our public examination classes that the “Mock Examinations” (mid- June) start immediately after the half term break. Preparation for these examinations are already underway and we look forward to all our candidates putting their best foot forward in this “trial” to the real thing in October. From a school’s perspective we aim to create an environment with as few disruptions as possible for our candidates.

As we celebrate Africa Day, and the beautiful country in which we live, I hope that you will, as the term unfolds, enjoy the many opportunities you have to support your children.

With warm regards,

Jon Trafford


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