English at Durham Johnston Comprehensive School

“The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes 

As well as encouraging a love of reading, English at Durham Johnston aims to create analytical and perceptive young people. There is a strong emphasis on basic skills, but also a drive towards creativity and independence of thought.  We strive to balance: reading, writing and speaking and listening skills, to provide a rich and enjoyable experience for the pupils.

With this end in mind, we study a broad range of texts throughout the years: plays such as The Tempest and A Streetcar Named Desire; novels such as Skellig and Frankenstein; poetry from the Romantics to Post-modernists. We further encourage pupils to develop their love of reading by running reading groups and by participating in the Poetry By Heart and Kids Lit Quiz competitions each year – and regularly winning regional heats in both!

Interwoven with this reading is an appreciation of genres and experimentation with different writing styles, for instance fantasy and dystopian writing. There is, also, a strong focus on non-fiction genres, with pupils learning how to express their independent thoughts in speeches, letters and opinion editorials. We are proud to host an annual Public Speaking Competition that is a showcase for the talented and articulate young people we hope to nurture.


Below are links to our exam specifications:

GCSE English Language

GCSE English Literature

A Level Language

A Level Literature


Drama at DJCS

“Theatre is a form of knowledge; it should and can also be a means of transforming society. Theatre can help us build our future, rather than just waiting for it.”
Augusto Boal


Drama has the capacity to maintain and stimulate lasting pupil curiosity, interest and enjoyment in the world. We aim to create an atmosphere where pupils wish to learn, so that they come to enjoy Drama, because they are active participants in it, and where staff enjoy teaching, so they give of their very best. This will enable each pupil to achieve their potential in a variety of situations, using all available resources appropriately, to ensure the highest level of achievement for each pupil.


We currently offer Drama at GCSE level, following the AQA Drama specification, which can be found at this link.

Extra Curricular Drama

Drama Club for Key Stage 3 students:

Includes general drama activities but is mainly focused on rehearsing for school productions.  We meet on Thursdays in the Drama Studio.

Technical club:

For students interested in lights, sound, or stage management, there is a session on Tuesday evenings (2.45-3.45) in the Drama Studio. Students will then be able to help or even run these areas for the numerous shows.


Media Studies at DJCS

“In our media-saturated age, it’s vital that young people can evaluate competing sources of information and communicate effectively within a fast-changing digital environment. This isn’t just a matter of easy-to-learn skills. They need critical knowledge of media texts, audiences and digital culture, and of the complex political economy and technology which underpin them.”
Professor Sonia Livingstone

The media play a central role in contemporary culture, society and politics. They shape our perceptions of the world through the representations, ideas and points of view they offer. The media have real relevance and importance in our lives today, providing us with ways to communicate, with forms of cultural expression and the ability to participate in key aspects of society. Media industries also employ large numbers of people worldwide and generate significant global profit. The globalised nature of the contemporary media, ongoing technological developments and more opportunities to interact with the media suggest their centrality in contemporary life can only increase.

Media Studies at Durham Johnston is a diverse, challenging course which offers students the opportunity to develop a critical and analytical approach to the changing media environment which surrounds them. Students will explore how media texts are created and the distinctive contributions mass media makes to their understanding and enjoyment of the world in which they live. Through a variety of approaches to the changing media environment, students will develop a critical and analytical approach to the range of media texts as well as the media institutions which create and circulate them. Students will also create original media texts and productions for the coursework component – currently Documentary film production and Print Based text productions too. Texts studied include film, documentary, magazines, newspapers, radio, the music industry and television as well as new media such as web pages.

Full course content and Specification information can be found at this link.

Media Studies is a valuable and highly regarded qualification, leading directly to many media based careers. Many of our students go on to study Media, Communications, Journalism, Advertising and Marketing courses at University, as well as Film Studies and Production based courses too. The moral and ethical debates students engage with and the analytical and investigative approach developed is excellent training for a wide range of careers including law, politics, journalism, social services, civil service and teaching. Any area which requires critical thinking and excellent communication skills would be well served by a Media Studies student.