Durham Johnston Comprehensive School

Dare to be wise



Friday Bulletin

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Dates for Your Diary

·         11th November at 6.00 pm – Parents’ Information Programme (Y7 English)

·         14th November – Children in Need, non-uniform day, £1 to participate

·         17th November – Year 11 Parents’ Evening, 4 – 6pm

·         26th November Regional Team Chess Challenge Tournament 3-6pm Years 7-13

·         28th November Year 12 Internal Deadline for Durham University Supported Progression scheme

·         1st December – Year 13 Parents’ Evening, 4-6pm

·         8th December – Year 12 Parents’ Evening, 4-6pm

·         17th December at 3pm A level certificates collection for Sixth Form leavers 3pm

·         18th December Year 13 Internal Deadline for UCAS applications for 2015


Headteacher’s Message

Dear parents and carers,

Last weekend I attended some of the events at the Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival.  One of the events that I particularly enjoyed was a panel discussion about what it is to be happy. The perspectives of the panel members were all very different but very interesting. At its heart, however, there was a general consensus that we need to look deeper to find fulfilment rather than only seeking fun experiences. Many aspects of life are temporal and can affect how we are feeling day by day.

I talked about this in assemblies this week. I mentioned to the students that sometimes events and circumstances make us happy; the students listed sport, food, spending time with friends and the like. Sometimes the students fall out with each other, or struggle with concepts in a certain subject, or miss football practice and this causes them to be less happy. I encouraged them to think about what it is that brings them a deeper happiness or peace, and to think this week about being content with what they have and who they are rather than striving for more. I talked about developing an inner resilience so that when life becomes more difficult the students have ways of dealing with the emotions that this brings.

There has been lots going on this week, so do enjoy reading about life at school this week.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Wardle, Headteacher


Year 7 Parents’ Information Programme - Introduction to Year 7 English

On Tuesday 11th November at 6.00 p.m. we will hold the second in a series of introductory programmes for Year 7 parents. This session is entitled Introduction to Year 7 English and will be led by KS3 coordinator for English, Diana Everall. There will be lots of exciting things to do.

We look forward to seeing as many Year 7 parents as can make it.


Victoria visits Google Headquarters!


The following is an account of Victoria Simpson’s visit to Google Headquarters during the October half term.  Victoria, Year10 was awarded the “Star Pupil” award at a Code Camp sponsored by a national newspaper. Victoria was shown around the Google headquarters in London and then given a challenge to write code to improve a game.  As a result of her code and logical thinking on the day she won the “Star Pupil” award and this is an account of her experience in LA.

“During my visit to the Googleplex in Mountain View located in San Francisco, it was amazing to see how the Googlers worked and the actual Google buildings in person. While at Google we were given a tour of building 43 which is the main building. Inside we saw an example of a Google Street view car, a giant statue of the yellow Street View man and a Google Earth simulator which was a semi circle of screens for an all around view of Google Earth which Google is currently working on piecing pictures of Mars together to add to create a better view. Also we were shown a life size replica of Richard Bransons' Air Ship One and the original Google servers which were created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin because they didn't have enough money to buy the amount of computers needed. These servers were created form old computer components and often needed to be replaced, which were easy to replace as they were cheap parts.

To see how the Googlers work was really interesting, as they can bring their dogs to work, take their family to meals at Charlie's (the main restaurant which Fontaine, a Google employee ,took us to lunch at) and to see how interested they were in their work. It has also inspired me to see what can be achieved when you put your mind to it and have a vision of what could be created. Also to learn that Google isn't just about the internet or laptops but also that they research the environmental impact which is being made and finds solutions. Such as when Jean-Luc ( a google engineer) informed us about the project that he was involved which was trying to find a more efficient way of energy than burning coal.

While in America we also went to Los Angeles where YouTube Space LA is situated. While at the YouTube space which is a production site for YouTubers, where they can use sound rooms, green screens and any other equipment they may need. During the tour we were shown the Halloween sets which were used by YouTubers in partnership with Guillermo del Toro(a director). We also got to play on a retro arcade machine and a YouTube Claw machine which I won some goodies on.

This trip has inspired me to be a programmer, and in the future would like to work at Google or a company like Google who are interested in technology and have changed the world with it. To see what can be achieved was great and to learn more about technology and how it is growing.”

Victoria Simpson, Year 10



Euroscola Competition

Congratulations to  Emma Clifford, Emma Bramley, Susie Smellie, Harriet Chater, Charlotte Elsy, Bessie Yuill, Melissa Raine, Anna Sawicki-Smith, Anna Blythe and Phoebe Sanderson.

The students above have been selected to go to Strasbourg next March to compete in the Euroscola competition run by the European Parliament.   As part of the programme, they will take the floor in plenary and committee sessions to debate and vote on resolutions on current affairs, all the while practicing their language skills and making friends with fellow students from across Europe.

Only a few places are awarded each year to students across the region. This year, two groups from Durham Johnston have been selected to travel. The prize is a visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 12th – 14th March next year. On these days, young people from each of the 28 states are brought together to debate topical issues which they have researched before travelling to Strasbourg. The session sees the pupils take up the seats of the MEPs, work in multilingual and multinational committees and really get the feel of what it is like to be part of a large international institution. Three other schools from our region also had winning entries: The Hermitage Academy, Consett Academy and Emmanuel College.

Mrs Jackson, MFL Department


House Competition – TAKE A PUMPKIN SELFIE!

Published below are some of the entries submitted to the house  ‘Pumpkin Selfie’ competition.  Judging will take place today and the results will be published in next week's bulletin.




BBC Children in Need 2014

The school will hold a non-uniform day to raise money for BBC Children in Need next Friday 14th November.  The fee for those students who wish to participate is £1.  There will be additional 'House' activities and further details can be found by clicking here. 

Annual Geography Photo Competition

The annual Geography Photo Competition is now open.  The theme is “Change” and entries should be emailed to a member of the geography department.  The deadline is the 9th December. 

Pictured below is the winning entry of last year's competition.  The theme was 'Parallel Lines'.


Mr Lindley, Subject Leader for Geography


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: Year 9 and Year 10 

We have 50 tickets available for the performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Newcastle Theatre Royal on Thursday February 5th 2015.

The show itself is a ground-breaking National Theatre production which has won awards for its imaginative and spectacular design and staging. This is the first time it has toured the UK from its London base.

The tickets are £20 which includes travel. Tickets will be sold first come first served to Y9 and Y10 pupils. Cheques (payable to Durham County Council and pupil’s name on the back) or cash should be given directly to Mr Bancroft.

The bus will leave school at 1pm: the show starts at 2pm. We will leave Newcastle at 4.45pm arriving back in Durham after 5.30pm: the buses will drop off at school only.

Mr Bancroft, Deputy Head


Austrian Partner School Visit

When our Austrian guests arrived on Thursday last week, we introduced them to the custom of Halloween at the Beamish Museum; some even enjoyed a Halloween party. On Friday, following a tour of the school, we took our guests to Newcastle, taking in a visit to the Angel of the North on route.   The students had the opportunity to look around Newcastle city centre and the quayside area.  They found visit to the Discovery Museum very informative, and learnt about the of the history of the North East.   At the request of our visitors, we finished a very successful day with a visit to the Metro Centre. On Saturday, we all took a trip to York where we visited the York Minster, the York Dungeon and the Shambles. On the whole, it was a beautiful day (with the exception of the Dungeons) and we believe our Austrian guests thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

On Sunday, we went for a tour of various towns and villages along the North East coast, starting in Alnwick where they took in the amazing views of Alnwick castle. We then moved on to Bamburgh for a walk along the beach which was much enjoyed by our guests, particularly as Austria is a land-locked country.  We ended the day with a trip over to Holy Island to visit Lindisfarne Castle and to enjoyed seeing a wonderful coastal sunset.

We all became really good friends in a short space of time, so saying goodbye early on Wednesday morning was an emotional event for hosts and guests.

Miss Schwaiger and German Students in Years 11, 12 and 13


Careers Information for Year 11 Students and Parents

This is an important year for our Year 11 students who are making decisions about their future careers. We are currently re-developing the Careers section on the website and this should be ready shortly.   We felt that parents and students would welcome a regular item in the Friday Bulletin informing of careers events and information evenings being held in the area.

Please note that next week Gateshead College is holding an Open Evening on  Monday 10th November 2014  -  4.30 – 7.p.m.     http://www.gateshead.ac.uk/events/

Future bulletins will include a link to our Careers section in which there will be a section listing links to local Further Education providers’ websites.

Mr Kennedy, Technology Department and 2i/c Guidance

Music News

Evensong in Durham Cathedral – Monday 17th November

Chamber Choir will be singing Evensong in Durham Cathedral at 5.15pm. All are warmly invited to the service which will be finished by 6pm.  Please could members of the congregation be seated by 5.05pm. This is a particular honour for Durham Johnston School as November 17 is the Feast of St Hild of Whitby and 2014 marks the 1400 anniversary of her birth.

School Christmas Concert – Thursday December 11th – James Hall – 7pm

The 2013 School Christmas Concert was a fantastic success, so much so that we managed to fill the James Hall and several people needed to remain in the Atrium for the first part of the performance. Several parents expressed concern that they had not had the opportunity to purchase tickets before the event, so this year we are going to trial a new way of selling tickets as we have even more pupils involved in the concert.

From Monday November 17th each pupil performing in the concert will be able to purchase two tickets from either Mrs Sutton or Music Department staff. The remaining tickets will be on sale from Monday 1st December. We very much hope that this will be seen by parents and carers as a much fairer way of distributing tickets.

Tickets are £4 and £2 (Concessions – under 16 and 65 and over).

Mr Holmes, Subject Leader for Music


Sixth Form Notices

If you would like to keep up to date with what’s going on please click on this link! W/C 10th November 2014.

Mrs Lennon, Deputy Head of Sixth Form


Sports News

On Tuesday our Year 8 football team travelled to St Robert’s in the County Cup. Unfortunately we made a slow start and found ourselves 3 – 0 down at half-time. A much better second half saw us get back into the game but eventually lost 5 – 3.

On Wednesday our Year 8 basketball team played their first English Schools game also against St Robert’s. Our Year 8 team are very good and we certainly got revenge for the football defeat as we took a 40 – 0 lead at half-time! We eased up in the second half but still went on to win 66 – 8. Owen Chaplin top scored with 18 points and Tom Hetherington had 16.

On Thursday our Year 10 rugby team travelled to Harton School for a County qualifying tournament. They played well in every game against some outstanding opposition winning their last game 3 tries to 1 to finish in 3rd place.

Finally, good luck for Saturday to our cross-country teams who are travelling to Eaglescliffe for the North East regional finals of the English Schools Cup. If we finish in the top 3 schools they will qualify for the National Finals which this year take place in Newquay at the end of November. We will certainly have the best dressed teams at the competition as our teams will be wearing new cross-country vests which have been kindly sponsored by Andy Hughes Leisure. They are the first of several local companies who have agreed to sponsor school teams – more to follow in the coming weeks. The photograph shows them being worn by some of our runners.

Mr Hopper, Subject Leader for PE