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1967 Speech Day


My friends,

In starting thus rather than with the traditional formulae I claim the privilege of age and impending departure. Also I believe that both words are true of the majority of the people here this afternoon, and at least that you are all friends of Peterhouse. Mr. Oppenheimer stood last on this dais in 1959 at our third Speech Day. He is one who always has something significant to say, and we are pleased and honoured that he should have consented to come to us again. This oration is officially known as the Rector's Report so I must do something to justify the title.

Exam results
I had better start with examination results. Book-learning in my estimation is not the most important thing that Peterhouse should be giving to your sons, but their school work is their primary duty. They must work. By and large I think they do, by the standard of the day and of their contemporaries elsewhere, though they are very far from perfect, and the traditional report which of course reads "could do better" is practically always correct and is doubtless true enough for the majority.

Anyway, here is the customary summary of the G.C.E. results. As expected they are not particularly good nor particularly bad, though if anything a bit below the average. The number of "A" Level candidates at 29 was well below that of the last 4 years largely because of the losses following the end of Federation. In 1968 it will return to the normal figure of something nearer 40. The 29 offered 75 subjects between then and passed in 62 with 7 A's, a subject pass-rate of 82.7 % as compared with 83.0% in 1966. 23 out of the 29 have the two passes or more which qualify to apply for admission to any University, and 5 more have the one pass which secures conditional exemption from the South African Matric. As in 1966 there were too many lowly grades for our complacence but also a few bright spots. James Hunt is to be congratulated on 3 distinctions andMark Lobb on his distinction in Maths on the Scholar ship paper as well as on the 'A' Level papers. In Mathematics indeed all 13 of the candidates passed.

Destination of 1966 leavers
It is too early to know the destination of these boys, but some figures relating to the 1966 batch may be of interest. Out of the 40 "A" Level candidates in that year 31 are now at the University, 21 in the U.K. and Ireland, 1 at UC.R., 9 in South Africa, 3 in other places of further education, I in the R.A.F., 1 in the R.N., leaving 4 of whom we have no definite information. Five of these - Oliver Beaumont, Michael Evers, Hugh Parkes, Michael Robertson, and David Taube - won Government Scholarships on their "A" Level results.

Hugh Ramsbotham
The business of University entrance becomes more complex every year. Those of you who need him should consult the local expert, Hugh Ramsbotham, in good time, probably best in the "A" Block year. He spent much of his time on leave in England making contacts and gathering information. He is really very expert indeed and he is doing you and your sons a great service. I take this opportunity of thanking him on behalf of all concerned, thanks coupled of course with a lively expectation of further favours to come.

We were all shocked to hear of the serious accident to his 2 year-old son on their way home in April, and rejoice with him and his wife in the miraculous recovery that young Philip has made, and in the birth of their second child.

O Level results
The number of "O" Level candidates, 84, was larger than in 1966. The subject pass rate at 57.7% was almost exactly the same. This is reasonably satisfactory, more particularly since every boy in the "A" Block writes a minimum of 7 subjects, though I am again disappointed not to see more really good grades. In this connection, however, it should be remembered that a boy getting a Grade 1 at the "0" Level is in the top 5% of the G.C.E. candidates from the English Public Schools. This is a guarantee of high standards which can hardly be offered by an examination the candidates for which are predominantly drawn from Rhodesian schools only; for I am quite certain that the examiners have not yet been born who can effectively insulate their standard from the average standard of their candidates.

Nuffield Science
As many of you will know the teaching of Maths and Science is undergoing a rapid revolution. Peterhouse is in the forefront of this advance. We started bringing in the new S.M.P. (Schools' Mathematics Project) Maths some 3 years ago and a few candidates wrote the appropriate paper at the "0" Level this year. In Science the way has been pioneered in England by the Nuffield Foundation, which has devoted one million pounds to the necessary preliminary work and research, so that the term "Nuffield Science" is already a household word The emphasis lies on understanding rather than on the learning of a great mass of facts, and on .training in scientific method and principle Anything like cramming is laudably made much more difficult and less tempting Altogether I am convinced that Nuffield Science represents an important educational advance I am glad, therefore, that Peterhouse should be leading rather than following, and was interested, when I attended the recent Heads' Conference in Johannesburg to find that we are further on the road than the schools in the Republic The first boys taught throughout on Nuffield principles will be those writing the "0" Level exam in Chemistry in July 1969 and in Physics in July, 1970 I was interested to hear lately at the U.C.R the unequivocal assurance that the University fully approves You will presently have the opportunity of seeing for yourselves in the Laboratories what is going on. You will gather some illumination, at least I hope so, and I fancy you will also catch some of the enthusiasm.

Changes in method of this magnitude impose a great burden on school-masters who are far from idle anyway. I wish to acknowledge the keenness and devotion with which the members of the Peterhouse staff concerned have shouldered it. Last holidays they ran an immensely successful course here for staff in the other independent schools, including the junior schools I received many letters of thanks and appreciation and a remarkable proportion of them used the word "dedicated" of these men That is high praise Moreover, the qualities that earned it are to be found in all sections of the staff, academic and administrative alike. Peterhouse is served by its staff with a loyalty and degree of cooperation which are outstanding And I would add that this is in many instances true of our African employees as well.

I trust you will also visit the Art School You will find there too impressive evidence of a renaissance Thanks to abundant supply in Mr. Kennedy of that divine spark, which is the operative factor in all true education, the place is full of life and you will be impressed by the number of crafty hooks he has on the line with which he catches his fish He is doing a splendid job and one which is very important in the life of the school, and will be increasingly so. The staffing position has been remarkably stable, more so I think than in any previous year I think I am right in saying that one man went back to England at the end of last year and that nobody else is going --except me of course One might relate this to the fact that the staff have known that I am going; naturally, perhaps, I prefer to suppose that anyone contemplating moving has deferred the thought out of loyalty to Peterhouse and a determination to give its new Rector a smooth, untroubled start to his reign. Three appointments have had to be made arising from losses in 1966 and from the change in the Rectorship I am glad to be able to tell you that I have made satisfactory appointments as they were necessary even including one of that rare species, the mathematician.

In staffing difficulties of a more temporary nature we have been saved repeatedly by the invaluable services of Mrs. Holland and Mrs. Brooker, armed with irreproachable degrees and thoroughly competent. Mr. Paterson from Springvale has generously found time to carry the VIth Form which he took over at the time of Mr. Dunt's departure successfully through to their "A" Levels in Biology. To all these our warmest thanks are due and not least to my own wife who has for years made up the fraction of a man needed to complete the Biological requirements. She is a born teacher and has even made some impression on me, though that has taken even her nearly 40 years.

Bruce Fieldsend
The letters I have received from Bruce Fieldsend have made it very clear not only how much he has been enjoying himself but also how much stimulating experience has been made available to him. He is now well launched into his term at Charterhouse (not Charterhouse School - you know about that) having received last term at Shrewsbury the greatest kindness. Peterhouse is deeply indebted to the authorities of these schools for their ready cooperation, and particularly to their headmasters, Mr. Donald Wright at Shrewsbury and Mr. van Oss at Charterhouse. Mr. Fieldsend has also in this last fortnight been attending the Headmasters' Conference in Cambridge, and will have made yet more useful contacts. Indeed, there are 2 Rectors of Peterhouse, who are both members of the Headmasters' Conference.

Old Boys
This is quite an achievement too. All this will certainly bear fruit of the greatest benefit in the coming years. A school is justly judged by the boys it sends out and Peterhouse has no need to fear the issue. Martin Barron, the academic star of the 1965 season has finished his year in America with a Field Scholarship and gone to the Imperial College in London with an Angle-American Scholarship. Our Chairman's son, Michael Williams, having done outstandingly well at Rhodes University, has taken a further leaf out of his father's book and gone to Oxford with a Rhodes Scholarship. Inside information reveals that Richard Hill is effectively ensuring that Peterhouse boys may expect to be welcome at Nottingham University, (there is a subtle distinction between saying will be welcome and will get a warm welcome) and David Hill is into Cambridge. No one can say that the Governors cannot produce some offspring of quality ! Also at Nottingham Timothy Daniel, the "Hamlet" of the Peterhouse production of 1965, continues his dramatic activities and is in addition Vice President of the Students' Union. Giles Talbot is Secretary of the Union at St. Andrew's University. Ian McGill was vice-captain of the Sandhurst Cricket XI and 10th in the "Sword of Honour" list. Nearer home Alan Burl was the best student of his year at Gwebi Agricultural College, and Richard Bedford also distinguished himself. Roger Maggs, who gave Peterhouse outstanding service as head boy in 1963, and went to Cambridge in 1964 with "A" Levels in Maths and Science, has put up a remarkable performance in emerging therefrom with a 2.1 degree with Hebrew and Greek, having gone up completely innocent of both those languages. He is now at Ridley Hall studying for ordination. There is indeed no doubt that, for so young a school, Peterhouse is remarkably widely known and, as I believe, respected, and in this the Old Boys have played a large part.

The 1967 leavers
I must return to the present boys who will, I believe, be worthy successors of those who have gone before them. I shall miss them, their: freshness, their friendliness and their loyalty, more than I can say. school like this is supposed to train its boys for leadership, but it is not only, or mainly, by giving responsibility and authority to a few that it does so. The more powerful influence is the fact that a boy spends his years here in an atmosphere in which it is taken for granted that if responsibility is laid upon you it is accepted and discharged to the best of your ability There are very few indeed who do not react to such a challenge as one would wish. That atmosphere is something that reacts upon and moulds them all whether they become prefects or not; and of those that have attained that eminence in 1967 I can testify that I have enjoyed working with them as much as with any of their predecessors David Collings in the first two terms, and Mark Lobb in this, have worthily upheld a good tradition.

There is nothing of outstanding note to report on the games front.
There has been plenty of keenness, a good spirit, and a very fair measure of success The Rugby XV were not indeed unbeaten but they only went down once in Rhodesia, and their tour in the Cape in May clearly gave them valuable experience. Their success, and indeed that of other teams, owed more to cooperation and keenness than to individual brilliance, though Patrick Morton's and Adrian Hossack's all round records as sportsmen deserve a special mention Lady Gibbs is always very rude to me about this - she says I go on too long.

Clubs and activities
Many other clubs and activities have flourished A catalogue would be tedious, but you will be able to see the evidence of some later, including the film of yet another expedition organised by the indefatigable Peter Ginn to the Makarikari area The Mountain Club flourishes under Mr. Holland and the Outward Bound courses have been well supported Once more I recommend these unreservedly to boys and parents They are of inestimable value for the training of character and the development of a balanced and stable personality Peterhouse boys have done very well on them and supplied a notable proportion of those selected to lead their groups Amongst these Matthias Pascall came back with a justly prized "distinction" Also some of you may have noticed in the press that two young Petreans, David Collings and Oliver Beaumont, have been serving as temporary instructors and were members of the party that achieved a very demanding climb in Mozambique.

I must pass on to the more general remarks I wish to make.
From the beginnings of the long process of evolution it has been true that change is the law of life and adaptation to change the condition of survival and the secret of man's success All history is there to teach us that a people that clings blindly to the past is doomed In education more than in any other field it is necessary that this should be remembered. It is for the future, and for the future of 30 years ahead, rather than 5 or that we have to educate each generation The times in which we live are those of very rapid change and nowhere more so than in Africa. While therefore we must do all that we can to identify, preserve, and adapt that which is good in the legacy we have inherited from the past, we also muster our courage to look into the future, for more than anything else it is lack of courage which distorts the vision.

Stimulated by an impressive address given lately in Johannesburg by the Chairman of the Rhodesian Natural Resources Board I performed a simple exercise in arithmetic and I was interested to see that Prof Sadje, of Stellenbosch has done some arithmetic as well. In 32 years time, at the end of this century, the population of Rhodesia will be about 13 million. In the absence of white immigration the white/black ratio will be less than 1 .40. White immigration is of course very necessary if the general standard of living of a population of that order is to be tolerable, but I should be surprised if even the more optimistic were seriously to suppose that it could run at a rate much higher than 10,000 per annum. That rate would just suffice to maintain the white/black ratio at the present :20. I simply cannot understand how anyone, faced with figure of these figures, and not being either a lunatic or an ostrich, can recognise the paramount importance to the country of anything that can make easier the growth of real communication, as fellow specimens of home sapiens, between white and black, and particularly between the more educated members of both races.

That of course is why, quite apart from the fact that we believed it the right and Christian thing to do, we embarked four years ago on the policy of admitting four African boys every year. There were those who disapproved on the grounds that this would mean the victimization and embitterment of these boys That has certainly not happened. There is no shadow of doubt that they, and their parents, are as grateful as ever that they were able to come here. This is not the sort of experiment in which any sensational success is even desirable. Real success must work like leaven not like a bomb. But every year little things show quite clearly that real communication is becoming easier, more natural, and less self-conscious. White and black alike learn that amongst the other group there are wide differences in ability, unselfishness, and all the other qualities that go to make up a man; learn to think in short in terms of humanity and not of colour, and to learn mutual respect and understanding. To that extent I am sure that real success is being achieved. I would oppose any wholesale integration in schools. That might well serve to harden prejudices and antipathies. But in going slowly and quietly about it I believe that Peterhouse is doing the greatest service to Rhodesia, and incidentally, if one must distinguish, that it is the white boys who are the main beneficiaries. There were also those who feared lest by taking this step Peterhouse might commit some sort of suicide. They too have been proved wrong, as also those who thought that standards, academic or moral would suffer. I believe that the truth lies in that saying which we all know, but which we all find it very hard really to accept: "Whoever cares for his own safety is lost; but if a man will let himself be lost" (might we paraphrase 'will risk the possibility of being lost' ?) "for my sake and for the Gospel, that man is safe." "Nothing venture, nothing win'. "Safety first" as I once heard an Archbishop say with a meaning glance in my direction "is an admirable motto on the road, but a rotten one for life." A school too, at least a Christian one, may not play only for safety. Peterhouse is not an end in itself but a tool to be used in the service of God and man.

The founding of the school
I will end, as briefly as I can, on a more directly personal note. Sixteen years ago my wife and I, then at Michaelhouse, made the decision to launch out into what was for us almost total uncertainty. It turned out, by what may appear pure chance, but what was really as I believe the providence of God, that the timing was as near perfect as it could be. The need for a school of this kind in Rhodesia was widely felt, and just ahead were the boom years of Federation which made it possible to get Peterhouse firmly established before the difficult times came and the winds of change blew cold. To use a chemical metaphor, I was but the grain of sand which made the supersaturated solution to crystallise out. Some have done me the honour of using the word Founder, and I cannot deny that it gives me pleasure. But it is only true in very limited measure. Peterhouse has many founders, not one; Edward Paget, Bishop, great in faith and vision; Sir Ellis Robins, as he then was, tireless in influential support; Canon Robert Grinham, inspiration and spiritual father and indeed founder of so many Rhodesian schools; Sir Humphrey Gibbs, Chairman of the Executive through all those early years, and most upright of men and most devoted to this his country; these and many others, not to mention our benefactors, Harry Oppenheimer foremost among them. They have been immeasurably more than the owners of important names in lists of Governors and members of the Executive; and I have been the luckiest Headmaster in the world to have had the privilege and joy of working for them and with them and of calling them my friends.

Nor does the tale of my good fortune end there. From the beginning to this day Peterhouse has had a staff of extremely high calibre. It is no accident that so many of those who have served here are now Headmasters, and may say that the present lot are as good as it has ever been. It is their labour and devotion that has built so soundly, and will continue to do so, the traditions of this school, and in particular the spirit of cooperation which informs and permeates the whole community. I can never be sufficiently grateful for the loyalty they have shown to Peterhouse through me. That has been my richest reward - that, and the knowledge that Bruce Fieldsend, by whom I am so entirely glad to be succeeded, will receive the same loyalty and the same happy service. All that I believe to be true, but realise it may sound as though 1 thought Peterhouse was already nearly perfect. Of course it is not. When our successors look back they will see that no more than a beginning had been made. Yet I trust and pray that they will also see that the foundation was sound, the motto just. Bear with me as I quote some words spoken at the laying of the Foundation stone in July, 1954. "We have to educate not only for time but for eternity. We have to send our boys out into a troubled world in which there is a chaos of values which bids fair to bring our civilisation down in ruins. What, in such a world, is more important than that a man's "heart should surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found'? For this reason it is vitally necessary that a school should be in the greatest measure possible a living Christian community. That is an ideal of which we must indeed fall short, but I desire, nevertheless, to nail the colours to the mast at the outset-Peterhouse will go forward from this beginning full of hope, dedicated to the ideals of Godliness and sound learning, and determined under God to serve this country, and through it all mankind.'

Finally I give you, using it as something between a prayer and a battlecry, the verse from St. Matthew's Gospel from which our motto is taken: "The rains came down, the floods rose, the wind blew and beat upon that house; but it did not fall, because its foundations were on the rock."

F R Snell
Speech Day 1967

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