1 May 2020

Dear Parents, Carers and, most importantly, Students,


I hope that you and your families are well. There are a number of updates I would like to share with you. Our teaching staff have focused this week on home learning resources for the website; making sure that we comply with Ofqual’s directive to grade and rank year 11 and 13 students; working on transition materials for Year 11 students as they prepare for A Level study; and increasing our communication and interaction with all of our students in the coming weeks.


In terms of school re-opening, there is still significant speculation about the date of any return and which year groups might be prioritised, but the Government has been very clear that it will not share its plans until 7th May at the earliest. Like all schools, we are assessing risk, thinking carefully about the difficulties associated with social distancing in schools, the structure the school day for students and what timetable we might offer. There is no national plan that has been shared, but it is clear from Gavin Williamson’s answers at the Education Select Committee session earlier this week that he is keen to prioritise years 5, 10 and 12. We have factored that into our planning, but are genuinely unsure about what decisions the Government will make. As I commented last week, this will be a huge undertaking for schools nationally and we will follow any Department for Education medical/scientific guidance very carefully. Safeguarding all those who study and work in the building will be our main priority.


We have added a number of subject specific transition resources to the school website for Year 11 under the heading ‘New Starters.’ This also contains information for Year 6 parents who have accepted a place for 2020-21. Year 11 students should start to view the materials for the subjects that they intend to study and our 6th form team will provided additional information in the coming weeks about courses and options choices. In a similar manner, Year 9 students should prioritise the subjects that they have chosen for GCSE and should review and access the Year 10 resources that are on the website too. Over the next two weeks subject teachers will start to make contact with their Year 10 and 12 classes via school email, Microsoft Teams and the other systems that are available in school. There may be some teething problems initially, but we are keen to increase our level of support for those year groups, with the intention of doing the same for all year groups as we become more experienced. Form Tutors and Year Leaders have also written comments for their classes which can be accessed via the ‘For Students’ section of our website.


Click here to see this week’s messages from Form Tutors and Year Leaders.


A number of parents have contacted the school recently regarding trips and visits that are planned for the autumn and spring terms of 2020-21. We have made the decision to cancel the Ski Trips scheduled for January 2021 and are currently reviewing other trips planned for those terms. There is an update regarding the Ski Trips below.


Click here to see information about Ski Trips.


In addition to updating the school website, we regularly Tweet new content via our school Twitter feed. Please follow the school to get daily updates and also download the Durham Johnston Comprehensive School App if you have yet to do so.

Finally, we have been asked by Durham University to share the following link with students.

Durham University Research Link.

It gives those who are aged between 14 and 18 the opportunity to record and share their experiences of life during the current lockdown.


Best wishes and good health


Mr O’Sullivan