Dear colleagues

I dare say we have all come across the plethora of jokes about “How many people does it take to change a light bulb?” Some of the better ones might include: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? None – the light bulb will change when it’s ready. How many managers does it take to change a light bulb? Three – one to get the bulb and two to get the phone number to dial one of their subordinates to actually change it. How many psychoanalysts does it take to screw in a light bulb? How many do you think it takes? I would be treading in dangerous water if I quoted some others so I will refrain from doing so but rather turn our attention from the light bulb to the lamp shade.

No-one really looks at the light bulb but some do notice the lamp shade. You can, of course, get them in all different shapes, styles and colours as people try to match them with the room, the furniture and the people. The lamp shade, though, is not really important – what people want is light. The lamp shade is for show – the light is for glow. The light is to help people to see. I say all this because it is perhaps an apt analogy for us within ATS and CHISZ. Education is about enlightening our pupils (and parents) – each of our schools may use different ‘lamp shades’ but we are meant to shine a light for the benefit of others. What I would wish to underline though is that the closer our lights shine together, the brighter our light will shine – the closer we stand together as ATS schools and as CHISZ Heads, the greater the impact we can have in this country. Our individual school is not really important – what matters is if we are spreading the light. Our acting CHISZ Chair, Robert Sibanda, shared at the Primary Heads’ Mid-Year Conference the words of Jesus that we are to “let your light shine before men” – I seek to endorse that and to emphasise that we must let it shine bright, together, so that, like satellite pictures of parts of the world at night, Zimbabwe continues to shine brightly in the world of education. It will not happen if we stand alone.

At the Primary Heads’ Mid-Year Conference I shared a little about how I see my role in this full-time position. I would summarise it as follows: I am here to


We are committed to keep ATS/CHISZ standards high – we have a product of which we can and must be proud. To do this, I will endeavour to do the following:

As Heads we may not have time to do research – therefore ATS will seek to provide such research to suggest areas where you may focus.

  • Educational Trends – in CHISZ schools, in Zimbabwe, in the world
  • Financial Markets – in this country and beyond

We may play the Devil’s advocate or the 4 year-old child who asks the question “Why?” Sometimes we need to go back and:

  • Question what we are doing, why we are doing it and how we are doing it as well as
  • Challenge what we are doing, why we are doing it and how we are doing it

Whether Heads see themselves stuck on the hamster’s wheel, pedalling fast to stay standing, or orbiting the global education on a fixed course, we want to help you stay fresh and motivated by:

  • Visits
  • Talks
  • Articles

We want to be a means of service, of support, of strengthening to you and your whole community by:

  • Networking with various bodies, including the Ministry, Sports Bodies, Arts institutions, churches
  • Promoting our ‘brand’ on our website, in articles, with SAHISA, HMC and other international associations, explaining the history, the philosophy and expectations of ATS.
  • Training

Staff – secretaries, chaplains, estate managers, exams officers, librarians, HoDs, and more in addition to those areas already serviced, incorporating the existing ATST
Boards – not just in governance per se but also in recruiting and keeping Heads
Parents – incorporating the existing ATSP, to help them understand what education is
Coaches – sport at school is part of the learning experience not the entertainment business.

To that end we are committed. In these first few weeks we have had encouraging engagement with the ATSP Chair and with Primary Heads; with various agencies that seek to partner ATS schools (varying from debt collectors to recruitment agencies, from sports bodies to the NIAA, from tertiary organisations to suppliers) and with schools that seek to be part of ATS and CHISZ.

Please therefore see this as a genuine offer to be of service – I would be delighted to visit your school; I would be delighted to attend your Sports events (I greatly enjoyed the Gateway Primary Coaches’ Festival and the Harare rugby trials last weekend) or Open days (it was a real joy to be at Lomagundi’s last week) or Speech Days or school plays or concerts or exhibitions or special functions (well played to Peterhouse group of schools with their recent Kidzcan run/walk); I would be delighted to encourage and train your staff or pupil leaders or Governors; I would be delighted to speak at Assemblies or Speech days or Dinners (Sports or Leavers) or Chapel Services; I would be delighted to assist with appraisals or interviews or team-building. In short, I would be delighted to stand by you in all the vital work you are doing, to show that ATS / CHISZ stands strong, together, and to learn what you are doing.

Please therefore do provide the office with your school calendar (a soft copy is fine); please do send us your newsletters so we know all the good you are doing; and please tell us what we might do for you. I am in the office from 7:30am until 4:30pm but will be delighted to get in the car to be with you. I am excited by what we can all do, not for our school or for ATS/CHISZ but for our children and for this country.

In closing, I have not managed to come across a joke about ‘How many Heads does it take to change a light bulb?’ so you may make your own suggestions. However, as many of our governors are lawyers, here follows an answer to the question: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?

Such number as may be deemed to perform the stated task in a timely and efficient manner within the strictures of the following agreement:

Whereas the party of the first part, also known as “Lawyer,” and the party of the second part, also known as “Light Bulb,” do hereby and forthwith agree to a transaction wherein the party of the second part (Light Bulb) shall be removed from the current position as a result of failure to perform previously agreed-upon duties, i.e., the illumination of the area ranging from the front (north) door, through the entryway, terminating at an area just inside the primary living area, demarcated by the beginning of the carpet, any spillover illumination being at the option of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) and not required by the aforementioned agreement between the parties.

The aforementioned removal transaction shall include, but not be limited to, the following steps:

1.) The party of the first part (Lawyer) shall, with or without elevation, at his option, by means of a chair, stepstool, ladder, or any other means of elevation, grasp the party of the second part (Light Bulb) and rotate the party of the second part (Light Bulb) in a counterclockwise direction, said direction being non- negotiable. Said grasping and rotation of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) shall be undertaken by the party of the first part (Lawyer) with every reasonable caution by the party of the first part (Lawyer) to maintain the structural integrity of the party of the second part (Light Bulb), notwithstanding the aforementioned failure of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) to perform the aforementioned customary and agreed-upon duties. The foregoing notwithstanding, however, both parties stipulate that structural failure of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) may be incidental to the aforementioned failure to perform, and in such case the party of the first part (Lawyer) shall be held blameless for such structural failure insofar as this agreement is concerned so long as the non-negotiable directional codicil (counterclockwise) is observed by the party of the first part (Lawyer) throughout.

2.) Upon reaching a point where the party of the second part (Light Bulb) becomes separated from the party of the third part (“Receptacle”), the party of the first part (Lawyer) shall have the option of disposing of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) in a manner consistent with all applicable state, local, and federal statutes.

3.) Once separation and disposal have been achieved, the party of the first part (Lawyer) shall have the option of beginning installation of the party of the fourth part (“New Light Bulb”). This installation shall occur in a manner consistent with the reverse of the procedures described in Step 1 of this document, being careful to note that the rotation should occur in a clockwise direction, said direction also being non-negotiable.

NOTE: The above-described steps may be performed, at the option of the party of the first part (Lawyer), by said party of the first part (Lawyer), by his heirs and assigns, or by any and all persons authorized by him to do so, the objective being to produce a level of illumination in the immediate vicinity of the aforementioned front (north) door consistent with maximization of commerce and revenue for the party of the fifth part, also known as “The Firm.”

As a reminder of all the wonderful work that Neil did, I attach with this newsletter a collection of all his ‘stories of encouragement’ with which he finished his newsletters for the last six years or so – be refreshed!

Strength to you in all you are doing
As ever