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Peterhouse Boys


Thursday 4 August 2022

Dear Parents and Guardians,


The end of term is upon us and what a term it has been! There will be some very tired young men and women returning home; much has been packed into the last three and a bit months. The degree of “normality” has made for a refreshing change, and it has been a real bonus having a full and complete sporting programme. This for the first time since 2019.

It would be remiss of me not to add to my earlier letter regarding what transpired on Saturday 30 July.

The events that brought the 1st XV game against St George’s to a close last Saturday were completely unacceptable and brought great discredit to both rugby and the school. Obviously, there has been considerable finger pointing and attempts to apportion blame in the aftermath. This will not resolve anything in the long run. Notwithstanding this, I have been heartened by some of the conversations I have had with both players and spectators who recognize that these events did little justice to what has been achieved through the 2022 winter sports season. Internally, we have reviewed a fair amount of footage of the afternoon and we will take the necessary action to ensure that the principles of good sportsmanship and fair play at Peterhouse are not infringed upon in future. On reflection, and not wanting to appear overly defensive, we also recognize that the problems that unfolded aside our rugby field are not unique to Peterhouse. The growing culture in schools which puts results ahead of the game, and where the individual is bigger than the sum of the whole has, sadly, led to an erosion of the educational reasons for offering and playing sport at school.

While competition is a crucial part of an educational journey, it must not overshadow decency, common sense, and good behaviour. A growing “professionalism” in the coaching of school sport may lead to placing a greater emphasis on results. The expectations of spectators (parents in the case of school sport) further increases this pressure to win. Many of the ‘role models’, whose behaviour underpins the “win at all costs” approach, reinforce this overarching need to win. Are we losing the fundamentals: that school sport is vital for building character? We find ourselves quick to be critical of young sportsmen and women, when, in reality, we should reflect on why they might want to play the game in a more aggressive and inappropriate manner. Vitally, we need to ask why they are behaving this way, and where these behaviours are being learnt. We need to take a deep hard look at what can be learnt from our recent experience and, while expecting a lot better from our young sportsmen, we need to consider and address the “external influences” present in our sporting arenas. What are our expectations and how do we inculcate good sportsmanship while at the same time underpinning the importance of healthy competition and rivalry? We need to remind ourselves of what a good all-round education looks like and how we (parents and schools) must set the example in order to reinforce the importance of character building through what we teach and what our children learn.

Putting aside the difficulties of last weekend, one needs to remember that 99% of what we did this term does reinforce a solid all-round education. It would be impossible to highlight all that has been achieved and I have no doubt every single member of the school community will have their own “special moment/event”. Academically, the mid-year examinations will have provided an important benchmark for all our public examination candidates. The reports make for interesting reading and staff will have highlighted the key areas of focus for the Michaelmas Term. It goes without saying that our Cambridge candidates will need to find the balance between work and relaxation in the August holiday. The first examinations are scheduled for the end of September.

On the sporting front the school has enjoyed many successes (and on the odd occasion disappointments). The return of winter sports lifted spirits and helped remind us of the power of sport in fulfilling our educational mandate. Our recent visit to Falcon must rank as a highlight, for it once again illustrated the importance of the relationship we have with Falcon. The healthy rivalry and respect that both schools have for each other underpins a very strong tradition that is built into this fixture.

Once again, our Matabele colleagues put on a superb show, and we were warmly welcomed and hosted. On the sports fields the competition was fierce and no quarter was given, which is what one comes to expect from a fixture of this significance. We have much to be thankful for in the opportunities our ties with Falcon provide. Our hockey teams enjoyed a demanding tour to Cape Town where they encountered some of the best in South African schools’ hockey. In returning to Peterhouse, they bring back with them a wealth of experience which should stand them in good stead for next season. On the Soccer fields we have seen some good performances with the U17s having shown some real style this term. To all of you who have
supported our teams, thank you for being alongside your children and their teams.

Culturally, there have been some notable achievements this term. In the NIAA Drama Festival a number of our drama performances won accolades, and it was good to see so many of our pupils venturing into this form and level of competition. The return of international benchmarking in Music provides another dimension to our music programme. While we await the results, we appreciate the importance of this added assessment process to build the culture of music in the school. Oliver with a Zim Twist proved to be a resounding success, and the return of a full school production in the Fieldsend Hall was greatly valued and appreciated by all. The mix between serious and comical, classical and local, all added to the colour and character of this production. Our Artists recently visited two outstanding exhibitions in Harare, namely, “The Stars are Bright” and, the “Roots and Routes” exhibitions. These thought provoking and inspiring exhibitions provided our pupils with a “real visual feast.” Finally, the inter-house Music Competition rounded out the term.

As we embark on the August holiday, I ask that the Trinity Term reports are read carefully, particularly in the case of those writing Cambridge examination. The reports contain some excellent advice which will provide a solid foundation for next term’s revision programme.

For the start of next term, please note that all B Block pupils need to return by 13h00 on Sunday 4 September for the Chimanimani Expedition. For the rest of the school, next term starts on Tuesday 6 September. All pupils need to be back at school by 17h30.

With the return of some warmer weather, I do hope that the upcoming holiday will be a good one, which allows for a welcome break from school routines.

With regards,

Jon Trafford