10 January 2020

Dates for your Diary - Spring Term 2020

  • Year 9 Options Evening, Monday 13 January 2020, 3.30 - 6.00 p.m.
  • Year 9 Parents' Consultation Evening - Monday 20 January 2020, 4.00 - 6.00 p.m.
  • Deadline for return of Parent Governor Nomination Form - Monday 20 January 2020
  • Year 12 Parents' Consultation Evening - Monday 3 February 2020, 4.00 - 6.00 p.m.
  • Year 7 Parents' Consultation Evening - Monday 2 March 2020, 4.00 - 6.00 p.m.
  • Year 8 Parents' Consultation Evening - Monday 23 March 2020, 4.00 - 6.00 p.m.
  • Year 10 Parent' Consultation Evening - Monday 27 April 2020, 4.00 - 6.00 p.m.


Mr O'Sullivan Writes

If you want to make God laugh, plan something

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Unlike some other British customs linked to 31st December – first footing, opening the backdoor and then the front door to usher out the old year and to bring in the new, not wearing black to avoid a death – New Year’s resolutions are still commonly made. If you did make a resolution, have you managed to last until the second week of January? Over 50% of people, apparently, fail before they reach today’s date. The most common resolutions tend to be replicated on an annual basis too. In 2019, the 5 identified above were the most popular. 

Certain professions often make resolutions too. The Times Education Supplement recently identified a number of resolutions that are specific to teachers.  They included a ban on marking on Sunday evenings, so as to enjoy ‘quality drama’ like Downton Abbey. (From a personal perspective, a set of essays has never been so attractive based upon that alternative). Other teachers referenced the need to tidy classrooms, to throw away old resources (most teachers are terrible hoarders), to slow down in lessons to check student understanding, never mentioning Ofsted and, most importantly, to maintain and develop positive relationships with students and colleagues. Behavioural scientists and psychologists identify that for resolutions to be enacted they need to be habitual. Those who don’t plan will fail, but, as the old saying goes, if you want to make God laugh, make plans. Change is hard to achieve. 

A school’s ethos is a reflection of what it hopes its habits to be and long-term development is always better than a short-term fix. Our ethos is long established, but we do have some school resolutions. In essence, they are refinements of what we already believe to be important. Perhaps our key resolution is to make sure that all members of the school community are aware of what we are trying to achieve and why we believe the following to be valuable. Therefore, we resolve: 

To think carefully in 2020 about how we can make each student feel a sense of belonging and happiness when at school. (Recent PISA analysis suggests that British children are the least happy in Europe – a terrible indictment). 
To encourage students to try new things and take advantage of the opportunities available to them. We want everyone to be an active member of the school community. So, join a club or society, pick up a musical instrument or try a new sport or activity. 

  1. To encourage students to find a book that interests them. Reading provides escape, allows imagination to develop and introduces people to new ideas.
  2. To explain why kindness and tolerance are pivotal qualities and why making situations worse than they need to be helps no one. 
  3. To keep talking with students about climate change and identifying ways in which we can make a difference and set a good example. 
  4. To provide opportunities for students to help others in school, within the local community and both nationally and internationally. 
  5. To help our students to challenge prejudice and cruelty and to understand the importance of tolerance and compassion. 
  6. To encourage students to think before judging others, or reacting without thought. Life can be very complicated and simplistic or immediate reactions are often wrong.  
  7. To never comment negatively upon other people via social media. It is unpleasant, achieves nothing and creates unnecessary conflict. This is a valid message for everyone associated with the school; students, staff, parents and carers. 
  8. To help all students to understand that education and learning can be transformative and can help open doors, both in the short and long term. Education can change your life. 

These resolutions are relevant to all schools and are very relevant to us, but won’t develop into good habits unless students and all other members of the school community work together and understand their importance. On a personal note, my main resolution after Tuesday’s Celebrations evening, is to always make sure that I read the names of all those due to receive a prize. Genuine apologies to the family affected. 

A J O'Sullivan


'When does language acquisition start'

Renowned linguist, David Crystal, OBE, to visit Durham Johnston

Durham Johnston School will be hosting an event led by renowned linguist, David Crystal, OBE on Wednesday 22nd January. David Crystal, who received an OBE in 1995 and became a Fellow of the British Academy in 2000, works from his home in Holyhead, North Wales, as a writer, editor, lecturer and broadcaster. David is a prolific author whose first book was published in 1964 and is widely respected for his research work in English Language studies.

We are very excited to have such an important linguist visit our school. It will be an excellent opportunity for A Level English Language students. David will be talking to students about lost dialect words, changes to the English Language and will address the question 'When does language acquisition start?', all of which are key topics for A Level English Language students.

The school works hard to provide exciting opportunities for all of our students, and we would like to express our thanks to David for agreeing to visit the school.

Mrs Walton KS5 English Co-ordinator



Health & Social Care - Guide Dogs for the Blind Visit

This week our Health & Social Care class welcomed Alexandra Mackie, a volunteer from Guide Dogs for the Blind, along with her assistance dog, Neena,

Alex talked to the group about the barriers people with visual problems can face and how these barriers can be overcome. 

The group met the gorgeous Neena, a 7 year old assistance dog and found out all about her life. They asked lots of interesting questions and gained a real insight into living with a disability and the benefit of having an assistance dog.

Mrs White, PE department


Parent Governor Vacancy

We have a vacancy for a parent governor on the Governing Body and invite nominations from parents and carers who are interested in contributing to the effective governance and the continuing success of the school.

Further information regarding the vacancy is published below, together with a copy of the nomination form.

Parent Governor Vacancy - Letter to Parents and Carers

Nomination Form

The deadline for receipt of signed nomination forms is close of business, Monday 20 January.  We regret that we cannot consider nominations received after the deadline.


Online Safety Newsletter

Please click here for the January 2020 copy of the Online safety newsletter


PE Department News

On Tuesday our U13 girls' football team took on Ovingham School in the English Schools cup. We struggled against a very big team in windy conditions eventually losing 4 – 1.

On Thursday our Year 7, 10 & 11 Futsal teams were at the Beacon of Light competing in the county finals. Our Year 7 team started with an excellent 7 – 2 win. The whole competition eventually came down to the final game against Oxclose. This was an tense game which ended 1 – 1. Unfortunately they had a better goal difference than us meaning we finished runners-up. It was better news for our Year 10’s who won their first game 2 – 1.  A 7 – 1 victory over Oxclose saw them needing to win the final game against last year’s champions Cardinal Hume. Another excellent performance saw us beat them 5 – 1 to become champions. As County champions they now qualify for the regional round in March.

The standard of the Year 11 competition was very high and our team finished in 3rd place after winning two and losing two games.
Also yesterday our U14 basketball team took on Kettlethorpe School, Wakefield in the English Schools cup. We stated slowly but an improved second quarter saw us lead by 8 points at half-time. We took control in the second half eventually winning 39 – 23 to remain top of the North group.

Finally, yesterday our Year 9 and 10 netball teams took on Durham High in league matches.

These were outstanding games. In the Year 10 match we were losing by 1 goal at half-time. However a strong second-half saw them pull away from us eventually winning 25 – 16 meaning we finished runners-up in the league. Some outstanding shooting from Izzy Sharman saw her awarded Player of the match.
It was a different story in the Year 9 match as we had the better second half eventually winning 17 – 15 to reclaim the league title after remaining unbeaten all season. Sophia Hesselink was voted player of the match. This completes an outstanding league season with our Year 7, 8 & 9 teams all remaining unbeaten to become league champions.

The final match last night was our Year 9 team playing Durham High B. This was one-sided as we ran out 18 – 0 winners.

Good luck tonight to our Year 8 boys and U14 girls' basketball teams who are taking on two teams from Emmanuel in a friendly tournament.

Mr Hopper, Subject Leader for PE


Whole School Literacy

This half-term, Year Eights will have their word power tested with a series of games designed to increase the levels of fun and word curiosity. This week they were boggled. Have a try at home: could you beat 43 words?

Mrs Clark - Whole School Literacy Co-ordinator