3 May 2019

Dates for your Diary – Summer Term 2019

  • School closed for May Day Bank Holiday - Monday 6 May
  • Year 8 Parents' Consultation Evening, Monday 17 June 3.30 p.m. - 6.00 p.m.
  • Summer Half Term - Monday 27 - Friday 31 May
  • Durham Johnston Music Festival – Friday 28th June, James Hall 
  • Music for a Summer Evening – Friday 5th July, Atrium Café
  • KS3 Celebrations – Monday 8th July, James Hall (Big Band and finalists from the Music Festival will be performing at this event)


Mr O'Sullivan Writes

What is the true cost of education?

If your wages decreased by 8% in real terms, what could you no longer afford to buy?

I was very fortunate to be appointed as Head Teacher of Durham Johnston in February. The interview process was very robust and I was asked a large number of challenging questions by governors, students and teachers. In total I was asked over 120 questions across the two days. At no point, however, was I asked any of the following questions:

Which subjects should the school cut? Should we cut Art, Music, Languages or Drama?

At what point should we ask parents to pay for new books, or to buy basic provisions for cleaning the school or for feeding students?

Should we close on a Friday afternoon to save money?

As politicians thrash around in a lather of ideology, desire for personal advancement, leaks and party scheming, important areas of public policy are being dangerously neglected. A great many schools have already had to consider the above options, others will be doing so in the next year unless the government acts decisively. I’m sure that many parents reading this will have similar experiences in their own area of employment. There have now been 9 consecutive years of austerity and it is fair to say, in educational terms, that every act of austerity is an act against children. Therefore, it is important that those working in the interests of children speak clearly about the potential damage caused by inadequate funding.

Robert Halfon, the Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, has regularly asked those seeking additional funding how much is needed. Last year he asked the question that leads this page. What is the true cost of education? The Association of School and College Leaders commissioned a report in the hope of answering that question. Their report was published in March 2019.

The report (https://www.ascl.org.uk/download.C24397F8-6E66-4248-84F0B37723157485.html) warns that primary and secondary schools in England require £40.2 billion of funding in 2019-20, but are only set to receive £34.5 billion.

ASCL calculated the figure by working out how many teachers and support staff will be needed to support the number of pupils in the system next year. An ASCL survey of 407 secondary Headteachers found that almost all respondents (404) had made budget cuts since 2015, with 60 per cent saying the cuts were “severe”.

That £5.7 billion gap has a number of significant practical implications and school leaders, teachers and parents should all be worried about the long term sustainability of such an underfunded system. A fairly funded education system is integral to the country’s future and there are many students who will only access cultural opportunities at school, who only get one chance to study a particular subject.

If you are equally concerned about fair funding, Schools North East have launched a campaign to address the 8% real terms funding shortfall.

Over the last eight years education funding in England has fallen, in real terms, by 8% and each individual pupil is now being underfunded by an average of £500 annually. This is unsustainable and unacceptable. Children’s education is essential to their, and our, futures. #FundOurFuture is a campaign asking Government to commit to plugging the funding gap. We need your help to present a united front, challenging Government to dedicate the vital funds UK education needs and deserves.



Please click on the following link to read the full article  https://www.durhamjohnston.org.uk/blog/category/mr-o-sullivan-writes


Durham Adventure Festival

A number of Durham Johnston students saw their adventure films played publicly at the Gala Theatre during the Durham Adventure Festival last weekend.  The students impressed the organisers with their creativity and the range of films on adventure through dance, biking, animation and tree climbing.

Students from the Art department also submitted artwork for the event which can be viewed here.

Once again the organisers were blown away with the high quality of the art work, which is captured in the photos sent to us from the Gala’s photographer and displayed in the link above.

We are now in the process of planning further opportunities and events for students to display their creative talents next year.


Sixth Form News

Measure Twice - Cut Once

Thoroughly researching ‘what’s next’ is key to making the right decisions.  Our Year 12 students are making good progress with this – supported by their subject teachers, tutors and our PHE (Preparation for Higher Education) programme.

On Monday lunchtime, Sarah Booth from University of Warwick came in to speak to 20 of our Year 12 students who are considering applying to Warwick and want to know more.  They certainly weren’t disappointed.  The talk was informative with tremendous pace – everything we wanted to know about this prestigious university – 26,000 students, consistently in the Top 10 in all league tables and one of the most targeted universities by employers – a great place to live and study.

Mrs Lennon, Head of Sixth Form


Student Associate Governors

We are unusual as a school in having students on our Governing Body.  Mitch Marshall and Matthew Elliott have given sterling service ensuring, a more effective link between student experience and governance for the last calendar year.  The recently elected Year 12 students,  Maddy Abel and Daniel Silvester will take over forthwith.

Preparation for Higher Education

It's been a busy week for Year 12 students.  On Monday they heard from the admissions staff from the universities of Bath, Edinburgh and Warwick informing students of what each university has to offer and what admissions staff look for in an applicant.  

On Tuesday all of Year 12 attended the Tyneside UCAS Exhibition at the Metro Arena, meeting admissions staff from a wide range of universities and representatives of employer groups and training providers.

Mr McArdle, Acting Deputy Headteacher


Summer Half Term Reading Programme

Our summer half term reading programme is off to a flying start with pupils paired in forms from Year 7 and Year 9.  The groups meet on Thursday during form time to read a topical news article together, and discuss the contents and key words.

So far our pupils have discussed 'whether dogs can really understand us' and this week enjoyed chatting about 'space tourism'.

Mrs Clark, Mr Bowman, Mrs Hardwick and Mrs Bell

Music Notices

School Music Festival

The School Music Festival will take place on the evening of Friday 28th June in James Hall and there will be three classes: 
Class 1 (Grade 1-3) - Whinney Hill Music Cup - 6.00pm
Class 2 (Grade 4-5) - Crossgate Moor Music Cup - 6.45pm
Class 3 (Grade 6+) - Durham Johnston School Music Cup - 8.00pm

The competition is open to all pupils who take music lessons outside school (including piano and singing) as well as those who receive tuition in school from Durham Music Service.  Pieces, which must be solo (accompanied or unaccompanied), must last no longer than 3 minutes for Classes 1 and 2, and 4 minutes for Class 3.  Pupils who play more than one instrument may enter a maximum of two different classes and the grades for each round refer to the standard of the piece performed and not to any formal qualification held.

For further details and an entry form, please click on the following link for a copy of the Music Festival Entry Form.


Music Examinations

Well done to all pupils who have recently passed their Associated Board or Trinity School music examinations. With a special mention for Robbie Kalus who achieved a very secure Distinction in his grade 8 Tuba exam. Congratulations to him and to Mr Senior, his teacher from Durham Music Service. 

National Youth Orchestra

If you are aged 13-18, play at Grade 8 level or equivalent the world's greatest orchestra of teenagers needs you. For more information please follow this link. NYO 2020 Applications  Please note that the closing date for applications is 3rd June. 


Music tuition during study leave for Years 11, 12 and 13

You are still more than welcome to come into school for instrumental/vocal lessons, and you need not be in school uniform if you are just on site for this sole purpose.  If you are unable to attend lessons, please would you be kind enough to inform your teacher in order that this time can be reallocated.


GCSE Revision Session

The final GCSE Music revision session will be on Thursday 30th May from 9.00 to 10.30 in Mu2. 

Mr Holmes, Subject Leader for Music


PE Department News

On Monday our Year 7 Futsal team, took on Heworth School in the final of the Tyneside Cup. We made a slow start and were drawing 2 – 2 just after half-time. However we took control in the second half going on to become Tyneside champions with a 9 – 4 victory.

On Tuesday our U16 table tennis teams were also in Tyneside Cup action at St Leonard’s. This was a well-attended competition with a very high standard of table tennis played throughout the afternoon. Our A team lost a close final game to the hosts to finish in 3rd place. It was better news for our B team who won all their games to win the B team competition.

The football season is almost finished with two semi-finals taking place this week. On Wednesday our Year 10 team were at home against Parkside. We were 2 – 0 ahead at half-time thanks to two excellent goals from Leo Garbutt. Despite a second half fight-back from Parkside we hung on to reach the final with a 3 – 2 victory. It wasn’t as good news for our Year 7 team on Thursday who travelled to Barnard Castle to take on a very strong Teesdale team. Despite never giving up, they proved too strong, eventually winning 7 – 2.

Also on Thursday our U13 cricket team were at Sacriston CC for the Durham and Chester-le-Street finals. We started with a close 3 run victory over Belmont. Despite a comfortable victory against Hermitage. In our last match other results went against us, and we finished in 3rd place.

The Tyneside table tennis continued with the U13 competition on Thursday. It was a similar story to the U16 event as our A team battled well to finish in 4th place with our B team winning their matches.

Mr Hopper, Subject Leader for PE

Equality - Wear Your Colours With Pride

Today DJCS became a rainbow of colours as students “wore their colours with pride”.  A wonderful sight which helped to support our equality theme and school ethos.  We are a diverse school, a school which promotes the importance of inclusivity, acceptance, equality and care.  This is one of many ways students can participate.  Our Pride and FemSoc societies, assemblies and excellent pastoral system give students a voice – an amazing effort from the students and staff today.


Miss Forbes, Senior Teacher and House Lead


Word of the Week