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1999 A Snapshop of Peterhouse Boys

Perhaps you already know Peterhouse, or perhaps you knew it in the past and your information may be out of date. It may be that you have never even seen the school. But you are making a critical decision in the life of your son - the school where he will spend his formative years, from pre-adolescence to adulthood.

Prospective parents are encouraged to come and see the school for themselves, and if at all possible to bring their son along as well. If you put your son's name down in good time then you will automatically receive an invitation to an "Open Day" in the year before he is due to come.

In this message I deal with some questions, which are the ones I am most often asked. The answers may help you in deciding whether Peterhouse is the place for your son. But best of all, come and see us.

Founded in 1955 as an independent, Anglican boarding school for boys aged 12 to 18, it has now expanded to include two other schools as well: a co-educational preparatory school, Springvale House and Peterhouse Girls' School. The schools are controlled by a Board of Governors who include: Dr N A F Williams (Patron), Mr J D Carter ( Chairman, ex Chairman of Barclays Bank, Zimbabwe) the Right Reverend Peter Jonathan Siyachitema (Bishop of Harare), Senior Minister, the Hon Didymus Mutasa, and others. The schools occupy a 3 000 acre site straddling the main Harare-Mutare road, 85 kilometres south-east of Harare; 700 acres of this form our game park, Gosho Park.

There are 535 boys (all boarders) at Peterhouse Boys, and across the road we have two associated schools: Springvale House is a 200 strong Preparatory School for boys and girls. Peterhouse Girls' has 270 pupils (almost all of whom are boarders). Post-0 Level girls come across the road to Peterhouse for lessons.

•    While the school's roots are in the English public school tradition, and the liberal Christian tradition of education which it represents, Peterhouse is a school in Zimbabwe, and for Zimbabweans (though we like to have a small salting of other nationalities as well).

•    Peterhouse became, in 1964 the first non-racial school in the country; the first black Rhodes scholar from this country, and the first black player on the national rugby side were old boys.

•    There are nearly 2,000 Petreans throughout the world who support the school in various ways: all boys automatically become members of the Petrean Society, which then keeps them in touch with the school wherever they may be.

Chapel - Peterhouse is an Anglican school. Members of all denominations are welcome, but all boys attend chapel. The Sunday service, with the Anglican liturgy, robed choir and magnificent organ is well worth a visit and will tell you something very important about Peterhouse - its Christian foundations.

Gosho Park (our 700 acre Conservation Education Project or Game Park). All boys spend some time there as part of our environmental studies programme. Gosho Park is also a place for recreation, meditation, work by the Conservation Club and somewhere for parents and boys to enjoy a picnic lunch.

The Sir Keith Acutt Library, well-stocked with the latest books from overseas, and with a large magazine section. There are opportunities for boys to learn bookbinding, to borrow novels or academic books, and to work or read in peaceful surroundings.

The Sir Mark Weinberg Computer Room with its 25 Pentiums. All boys in their first year are given computer lessons and also do a computing course in their first year of A Level studies.

The Cultural life of the School: Peterhouse strives for a balance in the extramural opportunities offered.

Our Design Centre provides tuition and facilities for art, pottery, sculpture, fabric design, technical graphics, woodwork and metalwork. Students are exposed to exhibitions in Harare and workshops at the School conducted by notable Zimbabwean artists.

The Music Department offers tuition in strings, woodwind, brass instruments and marimbas, and a large number of boys take piano lessons. There is a small School Orchestra and our lively jazz band performs each term.

The Choral Society - which draws some of its members from Peterhouse Girls' School and the local community - gives regular performances of major works (oratorios, masses and passions) and the seventy-strong Chapel Choir has a large repetoire of church music on which it draws for weekly performance in full school services. There is also a select Chamber Choir which performs with distinction each term in the Harare Anglican Cathedral and the national Eisteddfod. A major asset to all this choral work is the Chapel's impressive pipe-organ.

Drama: The School theatre, or Fieldsend Hall, as it is known, boasts a raked 500-seat auditorium and good technical facilities for drama productions and musicals, and is also an ideal venue for our annual Public Speaking Competition and competitive singing. The outdoor amphitheatre adjacent to the Fieldsend Hall offers an outstanding setting for large-scale open-air productions.

Public speaking: Inter-school debating, at both senior and junior levels, features prominently in the School's cultural programme each term, while Toastmasters and Diners Clubs provide additional cultural outlets for our Sixth form.

A forum of staff and students co-ordinates cultural activities in the School each term.

There is a cheerful cafeteria which offers an attractive venue for meals on a three week menu cycle.

There is a well-staffed Sanitorium.

We have satellite television to keep us in touch with the world beyond our walls, and a wall-sized television screen so that the whole school can watch important or entertaining television.

Children with disabilities: We are always glad to hear from parents who have any handicap, but who nonetheless wish them to be educated "normally". We cannot always help, but are anxious to do so if possible.

We have both formal and informal mechanisms for this. Parents receive full reports at the end of each term; in addition they can ask to see their son's "Mark Order Card" which is a set of grades and places given two or three times a term and discussed with the boy by his housemaster. The Rector sends an End-of-Term Circular to all parents to keep them abreast of what is going on. There is a Parent-Master meeting for each form each year. There are House Braais and other social occasions.
Boys go home for the three fixture free weekends during the term and are allowed out on two other occasions for floating weekends.
In addition, we hope of course that parents will come and support school events. We hope too that they will keep in touch with their son's housemaster.

Perhaps because you want a school in a rural not an urban setting, or because you want a fully-boarding school rather than a day or mainly day school; perhaps because you value opportunities such as exist at Peterhouse (with good staffing, libraries and equipment) for attaining fine academic results in 1998 86.2% of all O levels were passed and 88.2% of all A levels. Both of these are records for the school and particularly impressive as we take into the school boys with a wide range of abilities; perhaps because you value the spiritual dimension symbolised in our imposing chapel. The answer to this question will vary from person to person. Perhaps you like what you see and feel - and that will mean visiting the school.


This takes place each year in July for boys and girls in the middle of their Grade 7 year. It is a competitive examination - we cannot take all boys whose names are down for Peterhouse. But we also take note of the report from your son's primary school headmaster will give us; and naturally we take note of possible links with the school; a son or daughter may already be here; or you yourself may be a Petrean.


Most boys (and girls) enter the D Block ( ie Form 1) at age 12/13, via the competitive entrance examination. That is undoubtedly the best time to start, but places are sometimes available for entrants into C or B Blocks. In addition some places are usually available for pupils currently in their O Level year elsewhere: we have had many successful pupils who joined us to take their A Levels.


Peterhouse is one of the very few schools to offer Academic Scholarships and Exhibitions. These are not in themselves worth a great deal in monetary terms, but in needy cases these may be supplemented by a Soames Bursary (in memory of Lord Soames), an Ivan Turkington Bursary (so-called because of a generous bequest by the Reverend Ivan Turkington, former Chaplain at Peterhouse), or a Robert Paton Bursary. In addition, Peterhouse offers Music Scholarships and Exhibitions. Again, in needy cases these may be supplemented by a bursary.


All boys, before they arrive, are allocated to one of the six boarding houses - you may have a family connection with one of them, which you can make known. These units are very basic to the life of a boy in a school like Peterhouse - your son will sleep there, work there in the evenings, and have his daily routine centered round the house organisation. So your son's housemaster will be an important man in his life, and you will want to get to know him; he is his main contact with the wider life and organisation of the school.
But to make life easier for the 12 and 13 year olds who arrive in our D Block (as we call Form 1) your son will for his first year live at Tinokura - a purpose built house for all the 96 new boys. There they can acclimatise to boarding if necessary, and to the life of a large place like Peterhouse. The resident housemaster, Mr Allen French, and his tutors look after them. By the end of a year, we believe your son will be the better fitted to move on into the life of his boarding house.


Perhaps those words "structured" and "caring" are most appropriate here - it is important that young people should know where they are; should know about the boundaries they cross at their peril. It is important that they learn good manners and self-respect and respect for others. Peterhouse is "strict" in that these things are enforced by prefects, housemasters, and the staff in general. Corporal punishment is administered only by the Rector and housemasters. Expulsion is reserved only for the most serious offences deemed to be damaging to the community. But all this must be set in the context of a caring community - a place where boys can grow up with clear guidelines of conduct, and can leave as self-disciplined and self-respecting young men.

The following subjects are taught to O and/or A Level:
Accounting, Art, Biology, Chemistry, Commerce, Divinity, English Language, English Literature, French, Geography, History, Mathematics, Metalwork, Music, Physics, Shona, Technical Drawing, Woodwork

Perhaps the best way to answer this is to give a list of all the activities currently on offer. All pupils must take part in a range of activities and this involvement is monitored by housemasters:

Athletics, Squash, Chapel, Choir, Engineering, Printing
Badminton, Swimming, Chess, Falconry, Scripture Union
Basketball, Tennis, Choral Society, Games coaching, Servers Guild
Cricket, Volleyball, Climbing, Leatherwork, Snake Club
Diving, Water polo, Interact Club, Library work, Instrumental tuition
Golf, Computing, Conservation, Marimbas, Theatre back stage
Hockey, Art, Cookery, Motor mechanics, Toastmasters
Polocrosse, Astronomy, Debating, Music Society, Social Service
Riding, Band, Diner's Club, Orchestra, Video Club
Rowing, Batik, Design, Peterhaven, Weights training
Rugby, Bee keeping, Drama, Pottery, Woodwork
Soccer, Bridge, Electronics, Sailing, Word processing

Peterhouse remains a boys' school, but with a parallel girls' school - on a site across the main road. All classes up to O level are taught separately on the two sites, but there is contact between boys and girls through drama, music and societies. After O level, girls travel over each morning for their A level lessons. We believe that this is an acceptable level of co-education: allowing younger boys and girls to grow up at their own (very different) rates, in surroundings attuned to their own particular needs; but also allowing young men and young women to work together and to know each other within a structured and caring environment.

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