Thursday 16th February 2023

Dear Parents and Guardians,

At the beginning of every year, our school is blessed with new girls and staff that join the Peterhouse family.
This last week in assembly, our Deputy Head and Petrean (PHG94), Ms Nellie Nyeke, shared an overview of
the history and mission of Peterhouse.
With her permission, I have included what she shared below, for new and old parents alike.
“We have a number of new pupils and staff this term, so I just wanted to give a brief overview of Peterhouse.
In order to foster genuine school pride, it is important to know and understand the history of the school, as it
helps us represent it better.
Peterhouse was founded in 1955 with only 55 boys as a church school, based on Anglican principles. Despite
the discriminatory laws of the land that existed at the time, its vision was always to be a racially inclusive
school. Why do I highlight that? It is important to note that in the 1950s, racial discrimination was an
undeniable reality, as was gender discrimination. At the time, Peterhouse was a predominantly white/
Caucasian, male dominated school, although not as a result of the preference or desire of its founders – Fred
Snell and then Bruce Fieldsend. These men were considered mavericks and highly unconventional, as they
steered the school through unchartered and, in many instances, unpopular territory – even challenging existing
government regulations. Most of the boys in the school were British, or from the farming community in and
around Zimbabwe. However, these Rectors fought for the inclusivity of Black Africans into this elite boarding
school and, together with Saint Georges, were the first two private schools to become multi-racial. In addition,
Peterhouse also began to employ women, for jobs other than secretary.
Much thought and discussion was put into the choice and design of the “Coat of Arms.” Its symbols – the cock,
the cross and the crown, were used to honour St. Peter: The cocks are shown crowing, as they did to signal
Peter’s denial of Jesus. They are there to remind us that we too are guilty of denying Jesus, in our day to day
The cross is a symbol of the cross Peter bore as a disciple who shared in Christ’s suffering. It reminds us that
our call too, will be costly, and that we are to carry our cross daily.

The crown, contrary to what many believe, is not about being a Peterhouse King or Queen. It is the martyr’s
crown! The crown that the bible says Christ will give to those who patiently endure persecution and trials for
their faith. The crown is meant to remind us, that no matter how hard things get, we need to push through, that
we must persevere, for in Christ, at the end of the trials, is joy and triumph.
The Peterhouse mandate was very clear from inception – strong Christian values, as well as academic
excellence to mould and prepare the future leaders of this nation.
Peterhouse Girls opened in 1987 with 28 pupils, who were accommodated at Springvale House which had
opened 2 years earlier, living there until their boarding houses were completed. Every one of you sitting here,
is testimony of a dream that many years ago seemed impossible.
We need to recognise that Peterhouse is a brand that is enduring. Brands are not just about the services they
provide, but are also accountable for what their ambassadors do. So our actions and values are constantly being
scrutinised because people see us as an example, but even more so – a standard. For we here, are Peterhouse.
Last week, we had HMC (Headmasters Conference) with us. HMC is a professional association of the Heads
of the leading independent schools in the world – not in Zimbabwe, not in Africa, but in the world. And the
team from the United Kingdom was assessing the Rector as the Head of the Peterhouse Group of Schools. Mrs
Hough asked me to express her gratitude and her pride at how you all represented your school.
Through the numerous conversations that the team had with many of you, the good things you said, the
complaints you made, and the interactions they observed taking place in the classroom with your teachers, they
were extremely pleased by what they saw and experienced. Well done!
Over the years, while many things have changed and many more have remained the same, and girls and staff
go in and out of this beautiful school, one thing remains a constant. Conditur in Petra! Peterhouse is built on a
rock. And the rock is faith, and, as Fred Snell declared, “building on faith must be something continued always
in the present, and not just a tombstone from the past.”
As you go into your week and the rest of the term, I would like to encourage you with something from the
Senior Choir from 2017.
There is a light, a gifting, a talent, in each one of you seated here. You each have intrinsic value and you are
in place where our very foundation is Christ. When we keep Him front and centre in all we do, when we focus
with faith on excellence, in letting each of our individual lights shine, together, we will have a positive impact
on the world around us. So continue to let your light shine!”

Warm regards,

Mrs Claire Hough


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