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Development Plan 2014 – 2019

Peterhouse Group of Schools - Development Plan 2014 to 2019

“All good schools have the capacity to become great schools. Truly outstanding schools thrive because they evolve to challenge, inspire and prepare pupils for an open ended future.” Pat Bassett NAIS

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence itself but to act upon it with yesterday’s logic.” Peter Drucker

Preamble
This plan sets out the development priorities for the Peterhouse Group of Schools (PHB, PHG and SVH) for the period 2014 to 2019 i.e. for the next 6 years; by the end of this period the loan of $8.4million which the Peterhouse Group took out with PTA, Kenya for the expansion of PHG will have been repaid in full, hence the time period chosen.

The plan is deliberately brief – it is essentially a statement of intent.

The current position (Where are we now?)
The Peterhouse Group is widely regarded as one of Zimbabwe’s top independent schools and arguably the country’s best for boarding (PHB and PHG) and weekly boarding (SVH). Pupil numbers at all levels are healthy as is interest in the school although recent trends in pupil recruitment at both PHB and PHG suggest that the marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive. The Peterhouse Group has an enviable reputation for breadth of education/opportunity (sport, music, drama, culture and outward bound); public examination results at PHB and PHG are comparable to schools of a similar type in Zimbabwe, and pupils are generally exceptionally well disciplined, well presented and well behaved.

The Rector is an overseas’ member of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), which represents 300 top independent schools in the UK and beyond; each Rector since the founding Rector, Fred Snell, have enjoyed and benefitted from this privilege.

Much work has been done in the recent past to improve the infrastructure in each of the three schools and, in particular, the facilities at PHG have improved greatly as a result of the injection of funds from PTA, Kenya, but across the group’s two sites there is a great deal to be done to improve existing infrastructure and to develop new and much needed facilities.

Notwithstanding the fact that the current climate in Zimbabwe means that only modest increases to school fees are anticipated over the timescale of this plan, the Peterhouse Group is in a secure financial position and is able to repay the PTA loan in the time specified.

In November 2012 Professor Jaap Kuiper was commissioned to conduct a comprehensive parental questionnaire survey across the group as part of a quality assurance exercise. The survey highlighted the key strengths and weaknesses of the three schools as perceived by current parents.

PHB has an active relationship with its alumni (Petreans) some of whom are very supportive of the school but many old boys have lost touch with the school. PHG is relatively young and therefore has a much less active relationship with its alumnae; this is also the case with SVH.

The culture/ethos of the Peterhouse Group is based upon a strong set of core values and is generally conservative i.e. change is not readily embraced; in an educational/development sense the approach is risk averse.

In short, the Peterhouse Group is in a secure/healthy position and is widely regarded as an educational establishment of real significance.

Vision statement. (Where do we want to get to?)
The overall aim for the Peterhouse Group is to be the best that independent schooling in Zimbabwe can offer and to have a renowned and international reputation for excellence.

This overall aim implies the following (in order of priority):

1. A strong/unambiguous ethos and a clear focus on the preparation of pupils for life beyond school in the 21st century

2. High calibre and highly motivated teaching and support staff

3. High academic standards

4. An outstanding breadth of education

5. Outstanding levels of pastoral care and support

6. High levels of sporting success and a well-structured programme of leadership training and personal development

7. Excellent facilities

8. An active/productive relationship with Petreans and current parents

9. An international reputation which, by definition, spreads well beyond the borders of Zimbabwe and specifically into all parts of Southern Africa, the UK, Australia and New Zealand

Whilst the focus of attention must be on educational priorities, implicit in the aspirations outlined above are:

1. prudent financial management

2. a clear marketing strategy which is ‘customer focused’

3. a dynamic, imaginative and innovative approach to the development process

The future (How are we going to get there?)

Ethos and preparation for life in the 21st century
The Peterhouse Group has a very strong sense of its own identity based upon the Anglican tradition of the Christian faith. It is as important for its future development as it was in the past that the Peterhouse Group maintains the principles upon which it was founded, that its core values are upheld and that existing strengths are not undermined.

In addition to having an unambiguous values driven approach to education, pupils in the Peterhouse Group must be properly prepared for life/work in the modern era i.e. the 21st century. This preparation will be based upon developing 6 core competencies (the 6 Cs):

1. Critical thinking

2. Creativity

3. Communication

4. Character

5. Collaboration

6. Cross-Cultural skills

These competencies together with the Group’s core values must underpin all that the three schools undertake and must be fully understood for their importance by all staff and pupils.

Staff
High calibre and highly motivated teaching and support staff are of fundamental importance to the Peterhouse Group reaching its overall aspiration. The recruitment and retention of the best possible staff will be dependent upon attractive terms and conditions of employment (pay scales, accommodation, schooling for children etc.) and attractive day-to-day conditions in which staff work (modern/good quality classrooms, high quality training, good career prospects, and good social facilities); ideally both of which should be the best in Zimbabwe.

A balance clearly needs to be struck between the resources allocated to staff and the resources allocated to improving the Group’s infrastructure but the priority must be people first and infrastructure second.

The recruitment and retention of high calibre staff will also be dependent upon high expectations from top management, robust management systems (e.g. an effective appraisal system) and an intolerance of poor performance.

High academic standards
Above all else teaching and learning will be the focus of the education which pupils receive within the Peterhouse Group.

Historically the Peterhouse Group has admitted pupils from a wide range of academic ability levels. ‘High academic standards’ does not imply raising the bar at the point of entry; it implies doing better with the same mix of pupils. This means high quality teaching based upon a sensible blend of traditional and modern methods (N.B. the use of IT in the classroom), an appropriate and flexible academic curriculum which gives pupils of all levels of ability the opportunity to achieve success, setting/streaming of pupils whenever possible, highly effective curriculum support for pupils in need, close monitoring of teachers through regular lesson observation and scrutiny of pupils’ work and high expectations of classroom teachers from academic Heads of Department and other key staff.

Breadth
The Peterhouse Group will continue to emphasise the importance of breadth in its aim to produce young men and young women who are well-rounded, well-mannered and resourceful.

The Peterhouse Group has an existing extensive programme of extra-curricular/cultural activities, including a commitment to conservation/environmental education (N.B Calderwood Park and Gosho Park) and it is of great importance important that pupils at all levels continue to experience as broad an education as possible. This implies a sensible balance between sport and other activities and it also implies that music and cultural activities are not only given sufficient time and resources to thrive but are also properly valued.

Pastoral care
The Peterhouse Group is essentially a boarding/weekly boarding establishment and it is therefore important that standards of pastoral care and support are outstanding. This implies excellent food, excellent health care and excellent boarding facilities. It also implies first class care and support for pupils provided by house staff and their teams.

A commitment to upgrading the three school kitchens themselves has already been made (the SVH kitchen and the PHB kitchen were refurbished respectively in May and August 2013) and substantial changes to the management/leadership of the catering staff have been implemented by Servcor. These initiatives, together with anticipated higher levels of skill/training of the catering staff should result in a significant improvement in the quality/quantity of food for pupils at all levels.

Heath care within the group is already first class and was enhanced by the appointment of an additional nurse in May 2013.

The systems of pastoral care and support need improvement, particularly at PHB where a more effective tutorial system was introduced in January 2014; furthermore house matrons will be appointed in each of the houses at PHB as soon as possible; both initiatives will enhance the level of care/support for pupils.

Sport and leadership training/personal development

Whilst academic achievement and breadth will continue to be of central importance to the Peterhouse Group there will also be a clear emphasis on the development of sport and leadership training/personal development.
Sport is and always has been a very important part of life within the Peterhouse Group. The group already has some excellent games’ fields and a culture/ethos which promotes sport. Raising the profile of sport further so that the Peterhouse Group is established as the top sporting establishment at school level in Zimbabwe is a realistic/credible ambition. This implies excellent coaching particularly for able pupils throughout their career, first class sporting facilities, playing against other top class schools outside Zimbabwe and a ‘winning culture.’

Recent improvements to sporting infrastructure have included the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for cricket, tennis courts at PHG and an excellent new playing field at SVH but many more facilities are required (swimming pool; astro turf playing surfaces; volleyball courts; athletics track; pavilions etc.).

Top class schools produce pupils who are not only very well qualified but are also confident, well rounded, ‘emotionally intelligent’ and are properly prepared for university or for the workplace. This implies a well-structured programme of leadership training/personal development (the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award was introduced in 2013) well-delivered life skills’ lessons and high calibre careers’ guidance. In addition to sport, leadership training/personal development is the other area upon which the Group’s reputation as an educational establishment of genuine status will be focused.

Facilities
Much needs to be done to existing facilities and there is also a need for many new facilities to enable the Peterhouse Group to reach its overall aspiration. For the duration of this plan, whilst capital is limited, funds for improvement/creation of facilities will be prioritised as follows:

1. academic infrastructure

2. sporting infrastructure

3. cultural infrastructure

In addition and subject to the availability of sufficient capital, boarding houses at PHB will refurbished and the Fieldsend Hall will be upgraded.

It will also be necessary to maintain the school’s transport fleet at a high level and staff housing needs to be improved, also as funds permit on a rolling basis.

Links with Petreans and current parents
The Peterhouse Group needs to have strong and productive links with its existing parents and alumni/alumnae. Good relationships of this type will be of great benefit to the group not least because the reputation of schools in general is built largely on the basis of personal contact but also because ‘friend raising’ ultimately leads to successful ‘fund raising’ in the form of future pupils and bequests. This implies high quality communication with parents and ex-pupils of all three schools and it also implies a well-coordinated and focused approach to promoting the school and to ‘relationship building.’

With the 60th Anniversary (2015) of the foundation of Peterhouse approaching the time is right for the establishment of a Development Office and for ‘targeted’ fund raising for a number of specific projects (e.g. the Chapel windows) which are likely to be of appeal to the school’s alumni.

International reputation
The Peterhouse Group already has an international reputation; the Rector is a member of HMC, international sports’ tours occur regularly and Petreans, many of whom are highly successful, live and work in all corners of the globe. Nevertheless, more work needs to be done if the group is to develop a reputation for excellence which reaches beyond Zimbabwe. This implies successful promotion of the school overseas based upon a growing reputation for excellence.

Over the horizon
This plan looks ahead over 6 years whilst funds for development are constrained by the commitment to PTA, Kenya, but aspirations for the development of the Peterhouse Group should also stretch beyond that period to the time. Then the group should:

1. ensure that the terms and conditions for staff (i.e. pay, accommodation etc.) are as generous as possible to ensure that Peterhouse is as competitive an employer as possible;

2. continue the process of upgrading its infrastructure;

3. establish a satellite campus in the Eastern Highlands which focuses on the personal development of pupils (replicating the Timbertop programme associated with Geelong Grammar School in Australia). Such an initiative would undoubtedly set the Peterhouse Group apart from all other schools in Zimbabwe; and

4. establish a branch of Peterhouse elsewhere in Africa or overseas as has been achieved by a number of leading UK independent schools.

Conclusion
The Peterhouse Group is already a fine educational establishment which commands a reputation for excellence both within Zimbabwe and beyond but if it is to move up to the next level i.e. to be seen alongside independent schools which have a world class reputation, then there is much to be done. The group’s overall aim can be reached if:

1. in all respects (N.B. the importance of academic achievement and breadth) the Group’s performance is as good as it can be;

2. there is a clear focus on two areas of potential strength (i.e. sport and leadership/personal development);

3. there is a dynamic and creative approach to the development process at all levels; and

4. the good news of the Peterhouse Group (our brand) is communicated both efficiently and effectively.

“When we remain in a strategic posture – when we stay attentive, nimble and opportunistic – we can be true to our missions and visions.” Pat Bassett NAIS

Howard Blackett, MA (Oxon) Rector
April 2014
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