Dear colleagues

We are hoping that you all had a restful half-term, not so long ago, though I know that some of you were summoned to attend a District Award Ceremony – well done to those that attended that occasion. Cath and I certainly enjoyed a few days at the Falls, prior to doing some work at Victoria Falls Primary School straight after half-term, and while we were there we delighted to have some golf. If ever I needed to be reminded of the value of golf (as it happens, I do not need to be reminded!), it was an opportune time to do so and what struck me forcefully was that ALL Heads should really play golf! My reasoning is that there are crucial lessons from golf that we would do well to remember when it comes to being a Head. So, in these forthcoming newsletters, I shall take the opportunity to share with you 18 LESSONS WHY HEADS SHOULD PLAY GOLF, or more bluntly, 18 THINGS WE CAN LEARN AS HEADS FROM GOLF.


We start our round of golf’s lessons with a difficult par 5 dog-leg through trees! One of the great aspects of golf as a sport is that there is a very strong and respected commitment to etiquette – it is a crucial part of the Rules of Golf. It is a central part of the rules of golf as well as the spirit of golf that every player respects his/her opponent and does not try to put them off. Players will not move or make a noise when a fellow competitor is playing. They will make sure their shadow does not lie across the line of an opponent’s putt; they will not stand where their opponent’s putt may go; they will repair pitch marks. They will not damage the course, facilities or equipment nor hold others back; in short, they will do nothing that may gain them an unfair advantage over any other player.

Lee Westwood, a former World Number One golfer, once said about golfers: “You don’t see us
jumping in the referee’s face when something goes wrong and waving our fingers at him trying to get the other player on the other side of the fairway carded. You don’t see us missing a putt and diving.” This was quoted following another golfer, Elliot Saltman’s, three-month ban for what was termed a “serious breach” of the rules at a tournament in January 2011. What was the “serious breach”? The alleged repeated gaining of approximately a centimetre on the putting green, by putting the ball down a little closer to the hole.

It is interesting that we received a statement (via Donald Campbell) from the International Cricket Council during these last few weeks (did you miss that?) which stated that, under the heading of Integrity, “The ICC Board reviewed and adopted the recommendations of an Integrity Working Party which had been convened to review the global risks for international and domestic cricket created by the threat of corruption.” Cricket used to be seen as a game with strong levels of etiquette but they are facing major problems there. It is interesting too that Novak Djokavic when questioned a few weeks ago about his coach, Boris Becker, who admitted that he coached during matches, which is against the rules of tournament tennis, argued that it would be wrong or “too strong” to say it was “cheating”.

What has that to do with us in CHISZ? What lessons do we have as Heads from this? I would simply argue that Etiquette relates to Ethics. ATS has Core Values which include “Integrity and Accountability, Ethical Governance and Upholding Spiritual and Moral Principles”; CHISZ has a Code of Ethics while our Mission Statement states that we “must act ethically within the relevant constitutional and legal frameworks. In the interests of the public good, our schools seek to contribute to the development of quality education for all children in Zimbabwe.” We must operate with etiquette, with ethics, as we “Maintain good relations with the governing body, parents, neighbouring schools and education authorities.” [CHISZ Code of Ethics]

I need to reinforce this point as there are strong concerns that we may not all be operating in such a way, especially in these tough times. The obvious and thorny issue of age-cheating is being raised again but before we jump too quickly on that bandwagon, I would urge us to check all parts of our Code of Ethics. Note, for instance, that “A bursary is a financial award made or administered by the school to a pupil currently enrolled at the school and made on the basis of evidential need” – two points may be drawn from that. Firstly, the pupil must be “currently enrolled” at our school – we cannot offer a bursary to someone to come to our school. Secondly, the bursary is based on “evidential need”, not talent or ability. Note with regard to scholarships, they are applied for, not handed out; note that “All details of available scholarships and other awards should be available to the public upon reasonable request” – in other words, we do not just see someone we like and offer them a scholarship. Scholarships are to be widely advertised, in advance. They are intended to bring in worthy youngsters from outside the CHISZ schools.

I repeat all of that, maybe to labour the point, which is that I believe we ALL need to look at our practices before we cast the first stone. We ALL need to ensure that we are operating according to our Code of Ethics. We ALL need to adhere to the Etiquette of our association. We need to know that we are ALL playing by the same rules. Remember, we exist “in the interests of the public good”, not in the interests of our own reputation.

Such a reminder is highlighted even more by the events of the last month or so where both Chisipite Senior School and Gateway High School have lost a current member of staff and a former pupil (in Gateway’s case, two) at a very young age. Such losses put our efforts to be “successful” in greater perspective and perhaps also serve to challenge us with regards to how much we are educating the whole child (including their spiritual state) and preparing them not simply for university, employment and life but more importantly for eternity. Secondary schools really need to take seriously the opportunity (recently advertised, though at short notice) to consider the Drive Safely presentation (which CBC and Falcon have had and which Peterhouse will be having). I found it deeply poignant that the meeting with the presenters was held at exactly the same time that the service was being held for one of the former Gateway pupils killed in last weekend’s car crash.

As we think of such matters, in perspective, we remember also Angela Charidza recovering from another eye operation and Ray Sandwith hoping to return to full-time work this coming week following a review on the success of his back operation. I take the opportunity to remind all of us to have regular check-ups.

The recent visit by a Sports Psychologist was very well-received wherever he went and we are looking to bring him back for the Sports Directors’ Conference (14-15 September – details coming out soon – please ensure your Sports Director, or person responsible for sport, is aware of it and please try to enable him/her to attend). Again, his address to a group of around fifty parents in Harare certainly reinforced the points that we have been trying to make through our Charter for Sport and served to help parents see sport in perspective. We must not lose perspective though in ignoring the Arts. A group called “Let Them” (being an acronym for “Lively Entertainment Trust in Talent Harnessing & Empowerment of Minors”) met with us and were encouraged to link with other existing groups seeking to give our youngsters a platform to present their talents. Just as the Schools Sports Network (SSN) and Schoolsextra seek to give public recognition to our pupils’ sporting performances (much needed nowadays as pupils seek scholarships), so we need to have a similar platform for those youngsters talented in the Arts. I have been told of one website (Pachikoro) but would welcome hearing of others.

Cath and I would like to thank those schools who welcomed us so warmly on our recent trip to the Falls and all places in between and we regret that we could not make it to all schools – be assuredthose that we missed will be at the top of our list on our next visit. The   isits have proved to be valuable as on several occasions now I have had the privilege of addressing and motivating staff as well as whole Boards. Please know that I am more than willing to do such visits while I reiterate what I said before that we would welcome being advised of any special event at your school, be it sporting, cultural, anniversary, social – I am here to support you and your school and really look forward to being at your school. Please keep us in the loop and we will do our best to be with you.

The Conference programme is all but complete and we are excited by what is in store – it should be a great time to be together and we hope for a full turn-out. Many thanks to Bill A and Donald for their significant input into putting it altogether. We need that time to reflect, to share, to be encouraged and challenged and inspired. I am grateful for those who have forwarded items that they have found helpful and give a list at the bottom of this letter of links folk have shared.

Just to repeat: Cath and I will be away for the next four weeks but will still be in e-mail contact. Peter will be in the office, if issues arise, and he can direct you appropriately for whatever help that you may need. I will be back in the office from 12 th August for the remainder of the holidays.

Strength to you in all you are doing. Keep that golf swing going, making sure that etiquette is at the fore-front of our actions (forgive the pun)!

As ever

Links sent by Heads and others:

  • from Paul Marx, with the added comment: “Wonder if counsellors could have persuaded me to give up my smoking addiction when I was at high school. Had six a few times for this.”
  • from Paul Davis
  • from Paul Davis, via Chris Storey, the Head from SA who visited Zimbabwe recently
  • from Gerry Pallister
  • from Mark Kluckow, back in Zim and the ‘rep’ in Zim for this programme (many of us will know Mark from bygone eras!). Daniel met him at the CHOPS Conference and is going to use this programme, I believe.