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Peterhouse Girls

From the Rector's Desk - 14th May 2020

Thursday 14 May 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians,

RE: FROM THE RECTOR’S DESK

The first real hint of winter, this week, has arrived in Marondera. The evenings and mornings are cold and a heavy dew sits on the fields well into the morning. With the first full week of online schooling behind us this week’s letter is very much a nuts and bolts one and I would like to share some feedback from staff with you.

After week one, the general consensus is that our online schooling platforms have worked and, for the most part, there has been good buy-in to both tutor periods and lessons. Nonetheless, following a session with staff on Wednesday this week, the following observations were made;

• Pupils are not making the best use of the 13h30-15h30 academic session. Staff are available online to deal with any concerns that pupils might have regarding their work. Pupils are encouraged to use this time wisely and to consult with staff on work related issues.
• Pupils must submit assignments and work on time. Marking online work is very time consuming and work that is submitted late adds an extra burden on staff.
• We have noted, this week, an increase in absenteeism both in the tutor lessons and in class. Please make sure that your child(ren) are ready for school at 07h30 and that they register for class. The tutor lesson is half an hour to allow some leeway for late registration. We also appreciate that in some cases there are connectivity issues. In most cases staff use WhatsApp as a backup. If you are experiencing internet difficulties please ask your child to WhatsApp the member of staff so that we are aware that they are experiencing difficulties.
• It has also become apparent that pupils are participating in classes which are not their own. Please remind your children that class codes are not to be shared. The staff are finding it very distracting when pupils other than their own are joining lessons.
• Pupils are reminded that all the material posted on Peterhouse online platforms is the Peterhouse Group’s intellectual property, and as such, may not be shared with others outside the Group of Schools.
• Housemasters will be following up with parents on issues relating to absenteeism, poor work, and late submission of assignments.

With a relaxing of lockdown regulations we are conscious of the fact that many parents are returning to work and that pupils are working from home alone. Nevertheless, I would like to appeal to you to remind your children of the importance of “being at school” and not to absent themselves from lessons. Equally, please encourage your children to make full use of the support mechanisms on offer so that they do not fall behind in their studies.

From a school perspective we are continually looking for ways to refine and improve the way we deliver and teach online. Following a number of meetings this week, I have been encouraged by the enthusiasm of staff for e-learning. Perhaps the most significant feature of these discussions has been the willingness of staff to share techniques and ideas around making online teaching more relevant and interactive. From a developmental perspective this has been an exciting and remarkable time, and we continue to look for ways in which we can refine what happens in the digital classroom.

Moving from the academic, the school is very aware that these are extremely tough economic times. Equally, we have been following the debate around fees for the Trinity Term. Without wanting to be repetitive, Peterhouse has, in real terms, based its fee for online teaching solely on overhead costs. Similarly, in addition to the steps that we have already taken, we are currently in conversations to find other ways in which the school can further trim these overhead costs. We understand, and are extremely grateful, that parents are making significant sacrifices to support their children’s schooling. Similarly, I would like to invite parents to engage with the Business Director should they wish to discuss payment plans. It remains our sincere hope that we will be able, in the not too distant future, to return to school.

In closing, please keep an eye out, on our various media platforms, for postings from the school. We want to keep you and your children closely connected to what is going on at school in these uncertain times. This week Peterhouse Girls posted a wonderful message to all our pupils. Sean Davy, our Senior Chaplain, will also be making regular postings, and next week Springvale House and I will be posting messages for our community.

Keep well and stay safe,

Jon Trafford
Rector

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