Durham Johnston Comprehensive School

Dare to be wise



Friday Bulletin

Friday Bulletin Archive

2018 (38)

November (5)

October (3)

September (5)

August (1)

July (3)

June (4)

May (4)

April (2)

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2017 (42)

December (4)

November (4)

October (3)

September (5)

August (1)

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June (4)

May (4)

April (3)

March (4)

February (2)

January (5)

2016 (37)

December (3)

November (4)

October (2)

September (5)

July (3)

June (2)

May (4)

April (3)

March (4)

February (3)

January (4)

2015 (37)

December (3)

November (4)

October (3)

September (5)

July (3)

June (4)

May (4)

April (2)

March (3)

February (3)

January (3)

2014 (37)

December (3)

November (4)

October (4)

September (4)

July (3)

June (4)

May (1)

April (12)

February (2)

Dates for your Diary

  • Children in Need Campaign 2018 - non-uniform day - Friday 12 November 
  • School closed - Friday 30 November - please click on following link for information regarding term and holiday dates up until July 2020 School term and holiday dates 2018-2020
  • Year 13 Parents' Consultation Evening - Monday 3 December 3.30 p.m. - 6.00 p.m.
  • Annual Carol Service - Friday 21 December
  • Christmas Holidays - Monday 24 December - Friday 4 January 2019


Headteacher's Letter

The Death of Marat


At half-term I was approached by a former student. We discussed what he was doing now and the time that had passed since he left Durham Johnston; he was a student between 2007 and 2014. As the conversation drew to a close, he said: “By the way Sir, I do still remember. He was in the bath because he suffered from dermatitis herpetiformis. Charlotte Corday stabbed him and his body was painted by Jacques Louis David. That helped me to win first prize in a pub quiz at university.” If you are confused by the above, let me offer an explanation.

In a recent bulletin I referenced the strange debates that go on regarding the relative importance of knowledge versus skills, or curriculum breadth versus progress. Very few of those debates discuss the importance of engagement, or capturing the imagination of students. When are excited about studying or learning, all of the other factors start to fall into place. I started my A Levels in 1987 and vividly remember my teacher explaining that, in essence, we were choosing to study history because at some point we had been engaged by ‘a good story, well told.’ She demonstrated this by sharing the story of the Death of Marat, most famously depicted by Jacques Louis David in the 1793 painting, which shares that name. She  wanted us to be good historians, to write with fluency and to base our analysis on detailed research and supporting evidence, but he also wanted to motivate us and to offer ‘hooks’ that provoked thought and made us look forward to the subject. Successful teachers come in all shapes and sizes, but one of the qualities that they share is the ability to motivate. A former Deputy Headteacher used to make a comparison between good teachers and the ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner.’ Those teachers had the ‘glittering eye’; even if they want to, students can’t look away.

In 1997 I started teaching at Durham Johnston and the A level textbook that we used featured David’s painting. I used the story of the painting as an introduction for the class and continued to do so with a variety of classes from that point on. Not always because it was part of the curriculum, but because it highlighted that with the right level of engagement all students could improve their long-term memory, ask good questions and enjoy the subject. This is particularly important because not all students don’t want to learn, or have confidence in their ability.

There are a number of ‘good stories’ associated with the above painting, possibly too many for a short Friday Bulletin. Marat was a key figure in the French Revolution that began in 1789, but prior to his revolutionary role had been a doctor, living in Newcastle between 1770 and 1775. Whilst in the North East of England he found work as a vet and travelled between Newcastle and London on the ‘Great North Road’, or, as we call it, the A167 which goes directly past the school. Marat fortune rose and fell during the revolution and, whilst out of favour, he hid in the Parisian sewers. Whilst doing so, he developed a skin disease linked to contact with rat’s urine. This led to issues with irritation and itching and Marat took to spending significant amounts of time in the bath, soaking in a herbal solution with wet Muslim cloth wrapped around his body to keep it hydrated. When in the ascendancy, Marat had demanded the execution of enemies of the revolution. Charlotte Corday was so incensed by his calls for violence that she researched where he lived, gained entry and stabbed him to death in the bath in 1793. She was arrested and David, the key painter of the Revolution, requested that the body be kept in place so that he could complete his hagiography of Marat; a hero of the Revolution in his opinion. Whilst painting the image Marat’s body began to deteriorate and David made his (unnamed) assistant climb into the bath, hold the body above him and dangle his arm from the bath so that he could portray Marat in the best possible light. Marat’s body decomposed so quickly that when it was transported for burial along a cobbled Parisian street the vibrations shook free each of his limbs.

There is obviously much about the French Revolution that is complex. Those complexities will always remain, unless students are engaged, made to question and to develop a love of learning. This is true of all subjects. That was certainly true for me in 1987 and of the student I encountered at half-term. If you are a former or current student reading this, how much of that did you remember? How much has been missed out? If you are encountering the story for the first time, find out more and, in the best spirit of teaching through the ages, I will give you a test in the penultimate week of term to see how much you have committed to memory.




Mr O'Sullivan


Festival of Culture 2018

The Muddy Choir

On Friday 2nd November, GCSE English, History and Drama pupils and staff enjoyed performances of ‘The Muddy Choir’ by Theatre Centre which was awarded Best Play for Young Audiences 2015.  The play, which included period songs, told the story of three young men from Sunderland serving with the Durham Light Infantry in Ypres in 1917 during World War 1.  Audiences engaged with young soldiers Will, Robbie and Jumbo; all thrust into a landscape starkly different to the playing fields and estates of their Sunderland home; itwas a story about boys growing up and the humanising power ofmusic.

Commissioned and produced by Theatre Centre, the play was written byJesse Briton to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. In 2018Theatre Centre are touring The Muddy Choir once more to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice.

The experience provided multiple opportunities for creative learning across a number of subject areas including specific curriculum links to GCSE Drama, English, Music and History.

Mr Doyle, Subject Leader for History commented that “The Muddy Choir was an impressive performance that really highlighted to students the impact that the fighting in the trenches had on the soldiers. It brought to life some of the dilemmas that soldiers faced, the constant fear and the camaraderie of the trenches through a well-judged mix of warmth, humour and emotion.”

Themed Lunch  - Experience a Typical School Meal from WW1

Continuing the focus upon the centenary of the Great War Armistice, students across the school had opportunity to experience typical food served in schools during World War 1.  Bean soup, braised beef brisket with leek dumplings, Saturday Pie and Apple Brown Betty with custard were served by catering staff dressed in historical costumes whilst music from that era played in the background.

Festival of Culture Events Team


Talented Linguists off to the European Parliament in Strasbourg

10 of our Year 12 Linguists recently competed against a number of other schools to earn their place on an all-expenses paid trip to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Their task was to create an advert to encourage the EU27 nationals to vote at the European Parliamentary elections. Adverts were created in French, German and Spanish. The entries were of a phenomenal standard and this year, Durham Johnston was the only school to be allocated 2 groups to represent the UK. A huge congratulations to the following students.  Anouk Saint, Marine Saint, Gabriella Suggett, Paige Dudley, Thomas Wright, Alfie Phillips, Tim Bates, Madeleine Abel, Zara Bomanji, Daniel Silverter.

Mrs Jackson, Languages Department


Year 9 Duck Day


Another highly successful enterprise event here at DJ – Our Year 9 students branded, designed, formed and traded their innovative creations (in the form of ducks!). Superb team work, leadership skills and creativity! 

Well done Year 9.  And a huge thank you to all those involved.

Miss Forbes, Senior teacher


Mood Boards


This week our Year 10 Creative iMedia students have been exploring client requirements.  Our main focus being “visualising a theme”.  Students were given pin boards and asked to present their ideas to the group.  I was so impressed with the effort and creativity of each – clear themes and vision from all!  Well done Year 10 – fantastic work!

Miss Forbes, Senior teacher

Lit Quiz Champions

After a very intense regional heat, both Durham Johnston Literature teams received 1st and 2nd place.  We brought home the 'North East Champions' trophy, and we are off to London next month to compete against other regions.

It was a superb, if very long, afternoon. Both teams also won prizes, including books and book tokens.

Well done to all pupils involved!

Mrs Walton, KS3 English Co-ordinator



Word of the Week



Children in Need Campaign 2018

Next Friday, 16 November the school will hold a non-uniform day to raise funds for this year's Children in Need Campaign. The donation requested for those students wishing to participate if £1.00.  However it is not a compulsory requirement for students to attend in non-uniform.  Please note that the usual rules regarding the wearing of jewellery and make up apply.  

Please could parents remind their son or daughter to make sure that they remember to have their bus passes with them as usual, as they are often kept in blazer pockets.

We will publish the amount raised in next week's bulletin.

Further information on this year's campaign is available from the website.



Sixth Form Notices

If you would like to keep up to date with what is going on in the Sixth Form please click on the following link -  Monday 12 November 2018



Music Notices

Musical Performances this term

Friday December 30th - 15.45 onwards

Johnston Brass and several Durham Music Service ensembles will be performing at a Neville’s Cross Community Association Christmas Event at Sheraton Park.


Saturday December 8th – 14.00

Junior Choir, Johnston Brass and selected soloist perform in a Christmas Concert at North Road Methodist Church


School Christmas Concert – Thursday 13th December, James Hall.

First Half (6.30pm) to include Wind Band, Junior Orchestra, Junior Choir and selected soloists.

Second Half (7.30pm) to include Big Band, Senior Choir, Senior Orchestra, Chamber Choir and selected soloists.

Tickets for each part of this concert may be purchased from the Music Department.  To ensure that as many parents, relatives and friends as possible can attend this event, we would encourage you to purchase tickets only for the half in which your child is performing? There will be some pupils who are performing in both halves, in which case audience members will need to purchase tickets for both parts of the concert. Please note that pupils who have siblings in the other half will be able to attend that half of the concert without a ticket.

We shall ask everyone who does not have a ticket for the second half to vacate the hall at the end of the first half and then, those with tickets for the second half will be admitted in time for the second half to start at about 7.30pm. Tickets will be £3 (or £2 concessions) for each half and please note that these will not be for sale on the door. Payment by cash or cheque, payable to ‘Durham Johnston School’. These will be on sale from Monday 12th November.


Christmas Solos

If any pupil would like to play or sing a solo in either the concert on December 8th or December 13th please would they see me in the near future, and auditions for the first verse of ‘Once in Royal’ for the Carol Service will be held after the Senior Choir rehearsal on Wednesday 14th November.


Darlington Piano Association

Theirnext recital is by Jamie Bergin on Sunday 18th November at 3.00pm in the Dolphin Centre in the middle of Darlington. If a paying adult accompanies them, free tickets for this concert are available for pianists attending Durham Johnston School. For more information about the association and this concert, please follow this link www.dpiano.co.uk and email me for more details on how to obtain free tickets. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The programme is:

            Schubert - Moments Musicaux Op D780

            Beethoven - Sonata no 26 in E flat Op81a (Les Adieux)

            Debussy - Images Oubliees

            Ravel - Gaspard de la Nuit



Considering the number of pupils who play an instrument in school, we have very limited storage facilities. Therefore, to ensure that instruments can be stored appropriately and safely, please would you encourage any pupils who need to bring instruments into school for lessons or ensembles to take them home the same day. There may be good reasons why instruments need to remain in school for a few days, but this ideally should not be the norm. I note that 37 instruments remained in school last weekend, which indicated that the owners of these instruments had not done any practise….


Music Examinations

If your son or daughter is entered in the Autumn session for either an Associated Board or Trinity College examination and you feel that they would benefit from some extra support in developing their aural skills in preparation for the exam, please do encourage them to book an aural training session with a member of the music department. 

Mr Holmes – Subject Leader for Music



Jiu-jitsu Success 

Congratulations to Faith Milburn who has won another gold medal and is now a Nottingham open Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion!

Faith competed against two girls in order to win the medal; the first fight was won by an Americana’ (submission) and in the 2nd fight Faith won on points. 

Very well done!

Mr J Kidd, PE Department



PE Department Notices

On Monday our Year 8 indoor cricket team were at St Leonard’s for the first game of the indoor season. We made a slow start in the field as they scored an impressive 70 runs. We batted well but kept losing wickets eventually losing by 20 runs.

The Under 16 girls football team continued their National Cup competition on Tuesday with a good win against St Michaels, Billingham. The team went two goals behind at the start of the first half, but then realised that they needed to work harder against this strong team. The final score was 5-2 to Durham Johnston, with 4 fantastic goals from Emily Salmon and one from Daisy Smith. It wasn’t as good news for the Year 10 boys football team as they had a poor start against Parkside conceding 5 early goals. We eventually got going and scored two second half goals in a spirited defeat.

Finally on Tuesday our U13 girls cricket team were taking part in the Durham City Indoor tournament. They produced some excellent cricket to win all their games comfortably and now go forward to the County finals.

On Wednesday our Year 8 rugby team travelled to Horden RFU for the first round of the County tournament. It was an excellent evening of rugby, despite the weather, as we won all our games comfortably to progress to the County finals after Christmas.

Also on Wednesday our Year 9 & 10 netball teams were taking on Durham School in league games. Our Year 9 team continued an impressive season winning 27 – 4. It was much closer in the Y10 game, as an exciting game ended 4 – 4.

Football also continued on Wednesday as our U13 girls and VIth form boys teams both travelled to Carmel. The U13 girls were competing in the County Cup. The team consisted of players from Year 8 and new players from Year 7 and we ended up taking a squad of 14 plus supporters as everyone was desperate to attend. It took the team a while to get into the swing of it, facing a very determined opposition and it was only when we went a goal behind due to a penalty that we started to work hard. The final score was 2-1 with great goals from Lucy Hetherington and Grace Maguire. The team now progress to play Easington Academy before Christmas. It was also good news for our VIth form as they controlled the game going on to win 3 – 0, including a great goal from Scott Bolton.

Last night the Under 16 girls team were due to face High Tunstall in the quarter-final of the County Cup. Unfortunately High Tunstall could not get a team together so conceded the game. The team now progress to play St Bede’s, Lanchester in the semi-final sometime before Christmas.

Good luck tonight to our Year 11 football team who are at home against Egglescliffe in the English Schools Cup.

Finally good luck tomorrow to our cross-country teams who are at Stewart Park, Middlesbrough competing in the regional round of the English Schools Cup. If any of the teams finish in the top 3 places they will qualify for the National Finals which take on Saturday 24th November at Woodbridge School, Suffolk.

Mr Hopper, Subject Leader for PE


NUFC Tickets

I am pleased to offer discounted tickets for Newcastle United home games at St James’ Park.

You have the opportunity to watch Newcastle United vs Wolves, Sunday, 9thDecember. 4pm Kick off.The scheme enables you and your child to experience the excitement and atmosphere of a match day at a special price offered to Durham Johnston:



To take advantage of this fantastic offer you must collect a letter from the PE department and return with payment.

Cash or chequrd are acceptable, cheques should be made payable to Durham Johnston School.

Please be advised that tickets are for use by you and your immediate family only and must not be re-sold.

Please do not hesitate to contact school if you have any questions regarding the game/tickets.

Mr Kidd, PE Department


Extra Curricular Activities

Please click on the link below for updated information on extra-curricular activities offered during 1st and 2nd lunch and after school.

Extra Curricular Activities - Autumn Term 2018



Football Match Reports Link

Football Match Reports


Term and holiday dates 2018-2020

School term and holiday dates 2018-2020