Peterhouse Girls' School

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Peterhouse Girls
PHG Arms
Peterhouse Coat of Arms
Mashonaland East
Type Independent, boarding, high school
Motto Conditur in Petra
(Latin: It is founded on the Rock)
Denomination Anglican
Patron saint(s) Saint Peter
Founded 1987
Sister school Peterhouse Boys
Oversight Peterhouse Group of Schools
Headmistress Tracy Blignaut
Forms I—VI
Gender Girls
Age 12 to 18
Number of pupils 430 (2016) [1]
Education system English
Houses Boarding:5
Colour(s) Royal blue and White
Nickname Peterhouse Queens
Tuition US$3,540.00[a]
Feeder schools Springvale House
Alumni Petreans
  1. ^ Termly fees, the year has 3 terms.[1]

Peterhouse Girls (or Peterhouse) is an independent, boarding, high school for girls, aged 12–18 in Mashonaland East, Zimbabwe. The school is located on the Springvale Estate of approximately 1,200 acres (490 ha) alongside Springvale House and Gosho Park.

Peterhouse Girls is one of the schools owned the Peterhouse Group of Schools, which also consists of Peterhouse Boys, Springvale House and Peterhouse Nursery School.[2][3]

Peterhouse Girls is a member of the Association of Trust Schools (ATS) and the Headmistress is a member of the Conference of Heads of Independent Schools in Zimbabwe (CHISZ).[2][4]


When Peterhouse was founded, as a boys only secondary school, by Fred Snell in 1955, there was no intention of it becoming the Peterhouse Group of Schools (a boys' school, a girls' school and a preparatory school). In the early 1980s, however, it became apparent that there was a demand for the re-opening of Springvale School (under the name Springvale House) and the establishment of a secondary girls’ school.[5]

Springvale House was opened in 1985 and Peterhouse Girls two years later.

Peterhouse Girls admitted 28 pupils in its first year who were accommodated at Springvale House while the girls dormitories were being made ready. At the end of that first year the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe at the time, Hon. Robert Mugabe stated “I am particularly pleased that you are expanding into the field of girls’ education…. For too long we have tended to think that the education of girls is an expensive luxury”.[5]

The first Headmaster at Peterhouse Girls was Michael Hammond. He set about the task of establishing the new school. By the end of 1993, when he retired, Peterhouse Girls was well established and the first seven cottages on Williams Field had been built. O and A Level exams were being sat and largely passed and fixtures in a wide range of sporting disciplines were being played and largely won.

In 1994, Jon Calderwood (formerly the head of Springvale House) succeeded Michael Hammond as Headmaster.Three more cottages were built on Williams Field; a user-friendly boarding house was built to accommodate the girls of B Block (Form 3); all weather courts were laid down; the Chapel and the Art room were extended and in 2001; as a fitting finale to Jon Calderwood’s tenure of office, a new Library was opened. He introduced a tutor system, as was counselling, and courses in the bush and in the mountains were organized – induction courses, adventure courses and leadership courses.[5]

In 2002, when Jon Calderwood was appointed Rector of Peterhouse Boys, he was replaced by Mrs Sue Davidson, the school's first Headmistress. Academic, sporting and cultural success were maintained, even improved; and two laboratories and a striking new Music School were built.[5]

At the beginning of 2010, John Bradshaw was appointed Headmaster following Sue Davidson's retirement. The Board took the opportunity to respond to the increasing demand for places and initiated the expansion programme which is now well under way. To date, three new modern boarding houses have been built and named in honour of the wives of past Rectors and Headmasters associated with Peterhouse and Springvale School; Kathleen House, in memory of Kathleen Grinham, wife of Canon Robert Grinham, founder of Springvale School; Margaret House, in memory of Margaret Snell, wife of Fred Snell, founder of Peterhouse; Elizabeth House, in honour of Elizabeth Megahey, wife of Alan Megahey, who established the Peterhouse Group of Schools. In addition to the expanded accommodation new sporting and teaching facilities have also been built.[5]

In 2015, Tracy Blignaut was appointed Headmistress of the school.

Coat of arms[edit]

On 19 April 1956, Peterhouse was given its name. Then as Fred Snell recorded, much thought and discussion was put into the choice and design of the "Coat of Arms" for the new school. Its name linked it with Michaelhouse, but its symbols the cock, the cross and the crown honoured St. Peter.[5]

The cocks are shown crowing, as they did to signal Peter's so human denial of his Master. They stand as a reminder of our no less guilty denials of our duty and allegiance to the same Lord.[5]

The cross is there as a symbol of the patient and courageous self-sacrifice by which Peter, like his Lord, was called to share in the costly process of redemption. For us too, the cross is a reminder of the costliness of our calling. The type of cross used on the Peterhouse badge is a different heraldic device from that used by Ruzawi, Springvale and Bishopslea, but it reminds us of our fellowship with these schools.[5]

The crown is of the design known in heraldry as the martyr's (or celestial) crown. Thus to the symbols of sin and redemption is added one of joy and triumph. This crown is also depicted on the school flag.[5]

The badge is completed by its motto: "Conditur in Petra", meaning "it is founded on the Rock". The motto derives from the words in St. Matthew's gospel describing the house which was "built on rock". This is particularly appropriate to a school created from granite mined from the estate, but the motto also includes a play on the words of Matthew 16: Thou art Peter, and upon this rock (petra) I will build my church."

The rock is the rock of faith, and as Fred Snell declared, "building on faith", must be something continued always in the present, and not a tombstone of the past.[5]


Peterhouse Girls has 4 competitive houses and 6 boarding houses.[6]

Boarding Houses[edit]

Peterhouse Girls has a horizontal boarding structure and each girl is also placed in one of four competitive houses, not to be confused with the boarding houses.

The boarding houses are:

  • D Block accommodates girls in D Block (Form 1).
  • Kathleen House was named after Kathleen Grinham, wife of Canon Robert Grinham, founder of Springvale School and accommodates the C Block (Form 2) girls.
  • Margaret House was named after Margaret Snell, wife of Fred Snell, founder of Peterhouse and accommodates the B Block (Form 3) girls.
  • Elizabeth House was named after Elizabeth Megahey, wife of Alan Megahey, who established the Peterhouse Group of Schools and accommodates the A Block (Form 4) girls.
  • Williams Field - The senior girls (that is, the Vth Form and VIth Form) move into Vth Form cottages and VIth Form cottages each accommodating 8-16 girls living either in pairs or single room accommodation. The senior accommodation is run by the Senior Housemistresses and several tutors.[6]

Competitive Houses[edit]

Peterhouse Girls has four competitive houses that compete in areas such as academics, cultural and sporting activities. The houses are

  • Eland,
  • Impala,
  • Kudu and
  • Sable.[7]

The competitive houses are named after some of the first animals that were found in Gosho Park. Each House has a Proctor and a Head of House and staff are allocated duties. There are competitions held throughout the year and house points are awarded.[7]


The sports on offer at Peterhouse Girls include athletics, basketball, cross-country, golf, hockey, rowing, squash, swimming, tennis, volleyball and waterpolo.[8]

Cultural activities[edit]

Clubs on offer include Art, Bridge, Conservation, Debate Society, Drama, Fashion & Fabrics, Music, Interact Club, ITC, Leo Club, Scripture Union, Shona Club and Toastmasters.[9]

Peterhouse Girls offers the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award to boys in C Block (Form 2) upwards.[10]

Environmental Parks[edit]

The school, for educational and recreational purposes uses Gosho Park, a conservation area named after Patrick Gosho that is owned by the Peterhouse Group which is also situated on the Springvale Estate (being adjacent to the school).[11] Geography field trips, Biology research projects and leadership courses are some of the activities that take place in Gosho Park.[11]

Chapel of St Francis[edit]

The Chapel was built in the early 1950s and is dedicated to the Saint who so inspired Springvale School’s first headmaster, Canon Robert Grinham. It is built of brick, rough plastered and white painted; its internal pillars are gum poles, as are the beams which support the thatched roof.[12]

When the Peterhouse Girls moved into the buildings of Springvale School, which had been forced to close in 1979, it soon became apparent that the Chapel would have to be extended. Under the guidance of Jon Calderwood, who had already seen to the installation of a new organ, the extension was planned and executed: two transepts were added, in structure and furnishing identical to the style of the original. In addition, a new altar was built using teak discarded by the boys’ school laboratories; which has been referred as "a rare fusion of the spiritual with the scientific".[12]

Relationship with Peterhouse Boys[edit]

Peterhouse Boys is the sister school of Peterhouse Girls. The schools, both owned by the Peterhouse Group, interact in various cultural activities and to a lesser extent in sports. The Sixth Form is co-educational, with pupils from Peterhouse Girls' having lessons at the boys' school.[9][13]

List of Heads at Peterhouse Girls[edit]

  • Michael Hammond (1987-1993)
  • Jon Calderwood (1994-2001)
  • Sue Davidson (2002-2009)
  • John Bradshaw (2010-2014)
  • Tracy Blignaut (2015-present)

Petrean Society[edit]

A Petrean is any pupil who has been a member of the school, normally for a minimum period of two years; any person who has been a member of the staff of the school for at least three years; or any person who has been a member of the Executive Committee of the school for at least three years.[3]

Notable Petreans[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "ATS CHISZ PETERHOUSE GIRLS » » Schools Directory". ATS CHISZ. ATS CHISZ. Retrieved 1 July 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Peterhouse Girls". Peterhouse Girls. Peterhouse Girls. Retrieved 26 September 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Home". The Petrean Society. The Petrean Society. Retrieved 26 September 2015. 
  4. ^ "ATS CHISZ Senior » » Schools Directory". ATS CHISZ. ATS CHISZ. Retrieved 18 December 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "History". Peterhouse Girls. Peterhouse Girls. Retrieved 26 September 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Boarding System". Peterhouse Girls. Peterhouse Girls. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Competitive Houses". Peterhouse Girls. Peterhouse Girls. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  8. ^ "Sports". Peterhouse Girls. Peterhouse Girls. Retrieved 26 September 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Culture". Peterhouse Girls. Peterhouse Girls. Retrieved 26 September 2015. 
  10. ^ "The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award". Peterhouse Girls. Peterhouse Girls' School. Retrieved 5 January 2016. 
  11. ^ a b "Environmental Parks". Peterhouse Girls. Peterhouse Girls' School. Retrieved 11 June 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "Spiritual". Peterhouse Girls' School. Peterhouse Girls' School. Retrieved 26 September 2015. 
  13. ^ "Peterhouse Boys". Peterhouse Girls' School. Peterhouse Girls' School. Retrieved 5 January 2016. 

External links[edit]