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Peterhouse Boys

From the Rector's Desk - 4th June 2020

Thursday 4 June 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,


It has been a relatively uneventful week at Peterhouse. Nonetheless, during the course of the week I have been impressed by the level of activity within the staff as they share new ideas and techniques in support of their online teaching techniques. The growth in online tools for teaching and learning is exponential and it would appear that this is one “industry” that has thrived through the lockdown period.

While conversations continue around possible dates for re-opening schools we continue to remain in the dark with respect to an actual timeline. Nonetheless, at Peterhouse we continue to work at preparing ourselves for a return of the pupils to school. We are watching with interest to see how it this process is unfolding in South Africa, where a number of independent schools have re-opened. At home, we continue to work closely with ATS and the Heads within its network. Next week, Heads of ATS boarding schools will be meeting (online) to discuss and share ideas around the complexities of managing a return of pupils to our schools. We are currently working at putting together a fairly comprehensive document to manage this process, and we will be sharing our ideas with the District Ministry of Education.

On a weekly basis we review issues related to our online teaching programme. In this week’s meeting, I was disappointed to note that there has been a significant growth in pupils handing in work late or not at all. It would also appear that some pupils are working around Google Guardian by submitting “blank sheets” of work so that it registers as a submission. It is important to note that a return to school will not see teachers returning to work that has been covered in the online environment. While appreciating that work can be challenging at times, pupils need to make every effort to get it done. In cases where this proves to be a challenge for pupils, the school has made space in the afternoons (13h30 – 15h30) for pupils to seek advice online. On a related subject, concerns have been expressed around the level of plagiarism in the work submitted. In all educational contexts plagiarism is unacceptable and will result in the disqualification of work submitted. I would strongly encourage all our pupils to submit ‘original’ work and to stay up-to-date with their studies. It would appear, as we work on the mid-term Mark Orders, that inconsistencies in the submission of work will play out in the final results.

Aside from all the challenges we face, I have, over the last fortnight, interviewed quite a number of prospective pupils and parents for 2021. These conversations have been incredibly heartening and encouraging; there is an excitement about wanting to come to Peterhouse and for what 2021 heralds. I have been reminded, in all these engagements, that we have so much to look forward to and that we are extremely fortunate to be connected to this school, its amazing facilities, and its incredible community. Equally, I am also very aware of the pressures that our current circumstances have on families, and recognize the role that you, as parents, are playing in supporting the school.

Please note that Friday 5 June is World Environment Day. The school will be recognising the day with staff wearing something green. We will also acknowledge the day with a Peterhouse social media posting. (Please have a look at this presentation). I would ask that you also recognise the day at home, and that we all continue to place the preservation and protection of our environment centre-stage.

In closing, I do hope that we will receive greater clarity on how and when schools might re-open. It is going to be a complex process and one which will necessitate a great deal of understanding and sensitivity. Hopefully we can learn lessons from those countries which have already undergone the process. I hope the week ahead will be a good and successful one for you all.

Please stay healthy and safe,

Jon Trafford