21 September 2020

21st September 2020


Dear Parents & Carers


Year 13 Settling Back to Study


During summer, we had the majority of Year 12 students in school.  Two of the key objectives of the sessions were helping students understand the importance of (and further develop their) COMMUNICATION and ORGANISATION skills. These key skills will help teachers / tutors, to help our students excel academically and be better able to take advantage of the range of opportunities we offer during their time with us and in future study and employment beyond. The importance of applying these skills and working collaboratively with each other and their teachers has continued during the start of their first Year 13 term and has been communicated during Form time and in my initial Assembly, as well as in subject lessons.


Our Year 13 students have not had the experience of formal exams in summer 2020, and the confidence that goes with this – we are building from a different baseline. However, engagement with our subject and enrichment resources on the school website means that they have had the advantage of a solid foundation for their final year A level studies.  Year 13 students have 9 months with us, where we can work with them, preparing them to take their A Level examinations in summer 2021 – the grades they achieve will be on their CVs for the rest of their lives. As a school, students are at the centre of everything we do. We can best support them during their time with us by coordination and COLLABORATON – between home, students, subject teachers and our pastoral system (form time and assemblies).  A coordinated STRUCTURED ASSESSMENT programme will help students and staff better understand individual and class strengths and weaknesses and inform teaching and future assessments.


Communication and Collaboration

For subject work, routines and expectations, and also opportunities, students should regularly use the following in addition to personal interaction and their student organiser:

  • School emails
  • Subject Team groups
  • The noticeboards in form / classrooms and the Sixth Form area
  • Our school website for Mr O’Sullivan’s weekly updates, our Sixth Form weekly notices / bulletin
  • Updates, e.g. the safety / risk reduction routines for Sixth Form shared with them this week, which can also be found at this link.


If unsure about any aspect of school life, students should come to the Sixth Form office and speak with myself / Mr Wilbraham (Deputy Head of Sixth Form).


Structured Assessments

The performance of each student and how best to help them make progress and succeed is continually being assessed by their teachers, formally and informally.  Formal written assessments are different in different subjects, with a greater emphasis on linear content, exam technique and exam paper preparation at A level. 



Students have five hours of lesson time for each of their subjects.  Outside of lessons, they have either Private Study or Home Study.  Using this independent time effectively is the top tip students identified at the end of Year 12.  During Home Study, students should be working at home, with a sense of purpose, making progress with their studies through homework, preparation and consolidation. This consolidation should include regular review of all Year 12 work; the examinations next summer are linear.  Embedding good routines from the start makes a huge difference to outcomes and wellbeing.


Next Steps

Most of our students will be applying for university study.  Our Preparation for Higher Education (PHE) lessons have restarted this week and it has been heartening to hear about the proactive approach students have taken since March. We included guidance for our students, for subjects and Enrichment+ on our website; these are still relevant and can be found at this link.  In addition to subject work, virtual work experiences, additional reading around subjects, virtual Open Days and Future Learn courses are only a few of the ways students have been researching, testing and challenging their future choices.  We will continue to help students prepare for the best ‘next step’ for them. Any students not planning on applying for university will be helped to explore their options and I am happy to do practice interviews to help students prepare.  UCAS Application Forms and personal statements should be well underway. The UCAS website is a fantastic source of information and I would particularly recommend you look at the following:

 We have some deadlines this term:

  • Applications for Oxford, Cambridge & Medicine courses – 5th October, for support, review and completion of our school reference in time for the university deadline of 15th October. Mr Wilbraham, who runs our Oxbridge Support Programme, has arranged a Parental Information Evening online by Trinity College, Oxford. This will take place 5pm – 6pm on 24th September, please sign up using the link on our website.
  • Applications for most other courses – 7th December, for support, review and completion of our school reference in time for the university deadline of 15th January 2021. I would ask that students get it completed much earlier, where they are confident in their choices.


If you have any questions, please contact me by email: a.lennon@durhamjohnston.org.uk


Yours sincerely


Anne Lennon

Head of Sixth Form