25 October 2019

Dates for your Diary - Autumn Term 2019

  • Year 11 Parents' Consultation Evening - Monday 18 November 2019
  • Ski trip 2020 - information evening for parents - Tuesday 26 November 5.45 p.m. - 6.30 p.m. in James Hall
  • Year 13 Parents' Consultation Evening, Monday 2 December 2019
  • Year 9 Options Evening, Monday 13 January 2020
  • Year 9 Parents' Consultation Evening - Monday 20 January 2020
  • Year 12 Parents' Consultation Evening - Monday 3 February 2020
  • Year 7 Parents' Consultation Evening - Monday 2 March 2020
  • Year 8 Parents' Consultation Evening - Monday 27 April 2020


Mr O'Sullivan Writes

Reducing the School’s Carbon Footprint 

Earlier this term I wrote about the number of conversations that I had with students regarding climate change and their desire to take action and to make a difference at school. This has been a reoccurring theme since the spring term. In March 2019, a small group of Year 7 students approached me with a series of questions about the school’s carbon footprint. Uniformly polite, they made me question the extent to which my own pattern of behaviour – use of plastic, recycling, transport – was setting a good example within my family. That’s the point with young people; they can make adults change their behaviour if they point out the flaws in any given argument. 
We have worked hard since then to consult with students and to find a way to reduce our carbon footprint; we clearly have an institutional responsibility to do so. We also want to encourage students to discuss their concerns in school and to identify the simple steps that all members of the school community can take to make a difference. It also seems sensible to outline some of the important work that we have always done and have not always shared. 
From the commissioning of the school building in 2009, we have set out to remain conscious of our impact upon the environment and sought, where possible and affordable (in the context of 9 years of real terms cuts and austerity), to adopt carbon footprint reducing strategies.
Our building has a range of ‘in-built’ low-carbon footprint systems. For example, we employ Dyson Air Blade Hand dryers throughout the school. This was an initiative that we paid for directly in 2009, to ensure the complete removal of waste in the form of paper towels. Therefore, the school produces no paper waste from hand drying, large quantities of which previously had to be sent to landfill. The biggest impact on a Dyson Airblade hand dryer's carbon footprint is through its energy use; the Dyson digital motor spins at 88,000 rpm, five times faster than a Formula 1 car engine, ensuring excellent efficiency.
The carbon footprint of drying your hands:

20g CO2e: standard electric dryer
10g CO2e: one paper towel
3g CO2e: Dyson Airblade dryer
The building was also designed with a rooftop Rainwater Harvesting System that collects rainwater and processes it for use in flushing toilets. We are delighted to make use of this sustainable process that helps in preserving rainwater for our use and stores it for the future needs of the school. These are both important ways in which the school has made a difference and helps the environment. 
The issue raised by students more than any other relates to the use of plastic packaging and cutlery at lunchtime. Over several years, we have taken steps to reduce dependence on single use plastics, but are delighted to announce that, as of Monday 4th November, Durham Johnston will entirely remove single use plastic cutlery and hot food take-away packaging from our catering provision. Bio-degradable cutlery and hot food packaging will still be available, for those who request it, at a cost of 5p for cutlery and 10p for packaging. This reflects the increased costs of these products to the school and serves to encourage greater use of reusable metal-ware and crockery that are always available. The school aims to remove all remaining single use plastic from Christmas 2019 onwards. We are currently reviewing the plastic used within our self-managed catering service. Whilst there are few affordable alternatives to existing plastic bottles for water and soft drinks, we expect more to become available as consumers, like us, demand the development of cost effective products. From 4th November, we will also be introducing branded, reusable hot drinks cups. They will be available to buy from the Atrium Café and Café 6. These will cost £2.50 with a free drink included. Every refill, thereafter, will receive a 10p discount. As you will appreciate, this has taken a little time, but is clearly a positive step that I hope will be supported by all members of the school community. 
We have also considered how to introduce greater awareness and discussion of environmental issues into the school curriculum. A new Environmental Society has been set up within the Geography department and is meeting regularly. Year 12 and 13 students have participated in Local Authority meetings relating to the Durham County Council’s ‘Climate Emergency’ strategy and will be key figures at the ‘Young People’s Vision for Climate Change’ regional conference in January 2020. During the next half-term we will focus upon ‘climate change; changing habits’ during form period and will have a recycling competition via the school’s house system. One of our school governors has also asked to focus on the school’s response to climate change as part of her remit. These developments should provide opportunities for discussion and should increase awareness. 

By changing what we do at school and making students more aware, we hope to promote sustainable change in the wider community. As a parent reading this, I would suggest talking at home about the changes that you can make too. If you are unsure about the issues that are important, or how to make small changes that, collectively, can make a big difference, the links below might be very helpful. The first is from the BBC, the second from Friends of the Earth. You might also want to take part in the Durham County Council climate change consultation that is currently taking place. 

Have a good half-term.
Mr O’Sullivan 


Settling In Reports

Year 7, 10 and 12 Settling In Reports
Students in year 7, 10 and 12 have now had their first half-term completing work at a new key stage. In our experience, the four things that have the most impact upon successful transition are full attendance, a good attitude to learning, a desire to learn and engagement in lessons and, finally,  good organisational skills. We are keen for all students to understand the importance of the things that help them to settle into a new course or key stage. It is also important to note that students have only completing one half-term and it takes time to master a new school, or increased content and difficulty. Being present, having the right attitude, trying hard and being organised are good measures of students making the necessary step up and the potential for success over time. Sometimes it hard as a parent or carer to know how to offer subject specific help, but it is possible to help your child with their organisation and to instill the benefits of hard work and respect for others. These qualities will always help students to do well. 

Attitude to Learning
A=Always follows instructions and always treats others with respect
B= Usually follows instructions and usually treats others with respect
C= Some concerns about ability to follow instructions and treat others with respect
D=Serious concerns about ability to follow instructions and treat others with respect

Engagement in Lessons
A=Always takes part, always keen to learn and always works hard
B= Usually takes part, usually keen to learn and usually works hard
C= Sometimes takes part, sometimes keen to learn and sometimes works hard
D= Rarely takes part, rarely keen to learn and rarely works hard

Personal Organisation
A=Always meets deadlines and always has the right equipment
B=Usually meets deadlines and usually has the right equipment
C=Sometimes meets deadlines and sometimes has the right equipment
D=Rarely meets deadlines and rarely has the right equipment

Miss McFadden, Deputy Headteacher 

Durham Johnston Festival of Culture 2019

Take Off Festival Theatre Events

We are delighted to work with Theatre Hullaballoo and Take Off Festival, once again, in 2019; England’s leading festival of theatre for children and young people.


‘Is This A Dagger?’ with Andy Cannon



Over 150 visiting students from four local schools enjoyed a morning performance by Andy Cannon, one of Scotland’s finest storytellers. Taking audiences on a thousand-year journey from fact to fiction and back again, in his retelling of Shakespeare’s classic tale ‘Macbeth’. Young visitors also posed a series of excellent questions during a Q&A session after the performance.

Cannon uses very simple props; a yellow duster and rubber gloves to signify Lady Macbeth, desperately trying to clean up the mess and a simple tartan scarf, worn three different ways to indicate Macduff, Banquo and Macbeth himself. He works his way through the entire play, depicting most of its key characters with adults and children laughing happily at the same jokes.

Over 250 Durham Johnston YR10 pupils enjoyed a private afternoon performance of this tale of foul and fortune, murder and deceit. Macbeth is a gory, bloody and darkly wonderful tale of one man and his pursuit of power. Andy Cannon distils the essence of this epic play into a one-man, one-hour version, making it appealing for audiences young and old. YR10 students were engrossed throughout.


‘Muckers’ by Caroline Horton and an International Ensemble




Do you remember when you stopped mucking about?

Paloma has always mucked about with Pichón. They run wild. They dress up like tigers, flamenco dancers, queens, kings, rabbits and Lady Gaga. Life is fun until, one day, a blinding white light lands on Paloma. Embarrassed and confused, her days of dressing up, running wild, and mucking about with Pichón seem to be over….

Slowly Paloma begins to realise all the things she has lost. Created with an international ensemble, Muckers is a quest for self-acceptance, with original songs and a lot of Spanish. Audiences join Paloma in a journey which gently raises questions about body image, anxiety, shame and sexism. 

Created by multi-award-winning theatre maker Caroline Horton, Muckers was a funny, physical production, attended by 250 Durham Johnston pupils.

Ms H Charlton - Director of Resources


Geography Lecture

On Tuesday this week, the first A level Geography lecture of the year took place. Geographers had the opportunity to listen to Professor Baldwin from Durham University talk about climate change and migration, with the aim to get beyond the headlines and explore the case studies of Dhaka, Bangladesh & Isle de Jean Charles, USA. An interesting and thought-provoking talk, thank you to Professor Baldwin and all the students who attended. 

Ms A Colquitt - Subject Leader for Geography


Bright Sparks Launch Day

If your child is between 11 and 16 is interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths.  Sunderland university are holding a Bright Sparks Club Launch event tomorrow, 26 October at the Sunderland University City Campus, Science Complex from 10.30 until 2.00 p.m.

For further information please visit their website Bright Sparks


October Half Term Events

Please click on the link below for information on half term events in County Durham.

Durham County Council - Half Term Events 2019


Whole School Literacy

This week, Year 8 were asked to think about the coin pictured above..  We were not, however, talking about the value of money, but more about the value of words, as our word root was ‘cent’ meaning ‘one hundred’. 

We were, also, encouraging students to make links to other languages. Do you know the French, Spanish and Italian words for one hundred?


PE Department News

Last Sunday our athletes travelled to Hexham to compete in the Northern Biathlon Championships. After an excellent day of high quality running and swimming all our athletes finished in the top six places:

Quinn Morton – 1st place and Northern Champion
Erin Keeler-Clarke - 1st place and Northern Champion
Josh Royle – 2nd
Aiden Wilkinson – 3rd
Isabella Royle and Thomas Moles – 5th
Tom Sadanandom – 6th

They are now waiting to hear if they have scored enough points to qualify for the National finals.

More excellent news from the weekend as two of our students Oscar McIntyre and Camille Beattie were involved in the Rugby Fives association national finals. It was the Lady’s Cup at Cambridge University, where Camille and Oscar won the competition, beating Rugby School in the final – an outstanding achievement.  You can read a little more about the event here.

On Monday our VIth form team made the long journey to Blyth to take on Bede Academy in the Tyneside Cup. We dominated the game going reach the next round with a 3 – 0 victory.

Football continued on Tuesday as our Year 7, 8 & 9 teams travelled to Kings James for the final league games of the first half of the season. Our Year 7 team continued their unbeaten start to the season with a straight-forward 10 – 2 victory. It was also an easy 14 – 1 win for our Year 8’s. The Year 9 game was closer but we still won 3 – 1. Our Under 13 girls were in Newcastle on Tuesday playing St Mary’s in the English Schools Cup. This is a very strong team and we recorded an excellent 12 – 3 win to reach the next round.

On Wednesday our VIth form basketball team took on Dame Allan’s in a friendly match. We started well and played some very good basketball to win 62 – 37. This was excellent preparation for our English Schools campaign starting after half-term.

Our U13 girls football team were back in action on Wednesday – this time in the County Cup. It was another excellent performance as this time we won 8 – 0 at Shotton Hall.

Also on a busy Wednesday our Year 7 rugby team were at Horden & Peterlee RFC for a county tournament. We started with a comfortable victory before facing a strong team from Lanchester St Bede’s. We were losing at half-time before an excellent second half saw us win by one try.  

We followed this up with two more victories to win the competition and now go forward to the County finals in the new year.

Finally on Wednesday our U13 table tennis teams were at St Leonard’s for the Area finals. After an excellent evening of table tennis our A team ended up tied with the hosts. The result then had to go back to games won and unfortunately St Leonard’s had won one more game. Our B team also played very well to finish in 3rd place.

On Thursday our VIth form football team took on St Leonard’s. This was an excellent game played in a great spirit which we lead 1 – 0 at half time. An early goal in the second half saw us take control going on to win 4 – 0.

Also last night our Year 7 & 8 netball teams made the short journey to Durham High to take on their B teams. We proved too strong for them with our Year 7’s winning 31 - 0 with Isabella Royle player of the match. The Year 8 game was a 21 - 1 victory with Kaelyn Jones player of the match.

Finally good luck tonight to our Year 8 basketball team who are taking on Valley Gardens School in a friendly match.

Mr Hopper - Subject Leader for PE

Ski Trip 2020

Reminder that the final instalment of £146 is due by Friday 8 November.  If you wish to purchase a hoody, please also hand in completed order forms and payment on the 8th.

Many thanks.

Mrs Hopper, Ski Visit Co-ordinator