Durham Johnston Comprehensive School

Dare to be wise

Our school plan says:

Academic excellence is our first priority.  We work so that all our young people have the best education we can provide.  We want Johnstonians to be confident and articulate, self-motivated and determined to succeed.  We want them to enjoy and value learning for itself, not just as the means to an end. Taking our responsibility as public servants very seriously, we seek to offer the benefits and advantages that confer success and prosperity by imparting knowledge and habits of mind to last a lifetime.

We do not close doors to any child, but enable them all to have access to powerful knowledge and deep subject learning and useful skills. We educate our young people with excellence and equity so that they may feel at ease in the world ready for hard work and global citizenship. 

The global future we seek for our young people is one where their curriculum and learning equips them with the knowledge and skills to compete globally.  We want Johnstonians to take their place among the best.  We are committed to a curriculum built on the concepts and knowledge which will open all the doors in the world to our young people. The learning of languages enables community cohesion, international understanding and equality of opportunity: it is central to our purpose.

In practical terms that means:

  • We have very high aspirations for all our young people and a close targeted, classroom, child-level focus on each student reaching a personal best based on a traditional liberal arts and sciences broad and balanced entitlement curriculum. We are constantly designing and redesigning a curriculum fitting each child’s needs at all stages and levels such as the focus group for lower attainers in years 7 and 8 and our 4-pathway KS4 curriculum.  Extension work for the most able children is available through the Gifted and Talented programme.
  • We offer an easily-understandable and straightforward curriculum at Johnston preserving traditional subject divisions and finding the most interesting ways of teaching them.  We do this so that the pathway to the most competitive courses and jobs is kept open for as many of our students as possible for as long as possible.  We make it possible for them (rightly) to change their minds about their futures and still have quality qualifications for the next stage in life.  For some students this will mean rigorously planned and taught vocational courses.  Where we cannot offer these ourselves, we work in partnership with other schools.    
  • Our commitment to the best for all our students is demonstrated not only by our determination to give them the same levers as children whose parents pay for education outside the state sector, but by our close attention to equity.  We are committed to making sure that young people from all of our widely-ranging socio-economic communities have the same opportunities and are encouraged to have the same ambitions.  Nowhere is this more obvious than in our commitment to languages at Johnston in an era when only 25% of state school students achieve a GCSE language grade C or above in a foreign language while nearly 100% of independent school students do.  We aim for our children to be able to compete in a global marketplace.
  • The better to test our commitment we seek to analyse our curriculum and all of our activities by postcode.  This way we will know whether everything we offer reaches all of our communities.

We believe that our young people are encouraged to be articulate and confident, ready to take their places in the world alongside the best of their generation.  Visitors and those who newly or infrequently meet them remind us that they are friendly and confident, talkative and searching.    We train them to take responsibility for their own learning and to be pro-active in seeking the skills and information they need to progress. 


Key Stage 3

The table below shows the distribution of time allocated to subjects at Key stage 3.

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

English

3

3

3

Maths

3

3

3

Science

3

3

3

French

2

2

2

Latin/German/Spanish/Mandarin

1 (taster sessions)

2

2

History

2

2

2

Geography

2

2

2

Ethics and Philosophy

1

1

1

Computing

1

1

1

Art

1

1

1

Technology

2

2

2

Music

1

1

1

PE

2

2

2

PSHE

1

   

Total

25

25

25

 

  • The majority of subjects in year 7 are taught in form groups which are mixed ability groups of 28 of 30 pupils.
  • The exceptions are Maths and English which are set on ability. The initial setting is completed using KS2 SATs results with further adjustments after assessments throughout the year.
  • Practical subjects such as Art, Technology, Music and IT are taught in mixed ability groups based on the tutor group structure, but additional groups are formed to create groups sizes of around 20.
  • PE is taught in either half or third year blocks and separated by gender for part of the curriculum.

 

Our Focus Group

The aim of the focus group is to maximise learning and provide effective and supported transition from primary to secondary education. Prior to starting Year 7, the most vulnerable students are identified by the transition worker, Learning Support Department and Year 6 teachers in the primary schools. These students are taught the history, R.E. and geography curriculum in a small group context, with an additional focus upon learning skills, and confidence building. Assessments are delivered in line with those followed by the rest of the year group. The Focus Group has a dedicated learning space and is taught by a specialist teacher. The Focus Group embraces students from the start of Year 7 until the end of Year 8, with a few students accessing the additional support in year 9.   The aim is for students to make the transition back into larger classes as soon as they are able to do so. This is determined through discussion between the student, class teacher, SENCO, Head of Year and parent/carer.

Languages

In year 8 almost all pupils will choose a second language. At present we offer Latin, German, Spanish and Mandarin.  A very small number of pupils are offered an alternative, basic skills course instead of a second language. These pupils are identified by Leaning Support and Language staff.

Setting

Setting in year 8 continues in Mathematics and English and starts in Languages also. Pupils are divided into parallel populations and additional staffing allows for some groups to be slightly smaller.  Other subjects continue in mixed ability groups; the Focus Group continues into year 8.

In year 9 pupils the curriculum is similar to year 8, but with additional sets. The population bands are different from year 8 to allow further language setting. Pupils are now also set for History, Geography and RE.

The practical subjects continue to be delivered in mixed ability groups of around 20 and science is timetabled in blocks of 3 groups for a rotation of specialist teachers in the separate sciences.

Key Stage 4

The core curriculum at Key stage 4 consists of English, Mathematics, Language, Science, PE and RE. Parallel populations continue in the core subjects to allow for setting. The option structure is based around 3 pathways, pupils are advised which pathway to follow based on their ability.

All pupils will take GCSEs in English Literature, English Language and Mathematics and RE all will have a core PE lesson.  Everyone studies Science, leading to either 2 GCSEs in Core and Additional Science or 3 GCSEs as single subjects Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  When making option choices our young people are advised about the pathways which most suit their ability and potential.

The following form is that used for KS4 choices by young people in year 9 in 2016. It gives an outline of our curriculum pathways, but will change again to reflect developing good practice before we re-issue the form as part of the advice process in 2017-2018 whilst taking into account wider curriculum and examination changes.

More details of the GCSE choices and pathways for the 2016-18 cohort is available in the options booklets which can be found below:

Options Form 2016-18

This will be updated for the young people making choices in 2017.