6 November 2020

Dear Parents & Carers,

Attendance has been excellent this week and students have quickly settled back into the routines and systems that we established from September onwards. There is nothing more important than students being present in school and learning and all of our staff are committed to keeping the school open so that we can teach, offer guidance and provide the structure and support that all of our young people need. Students also need to act responsibly; parents and carers to make sensible decisions too, especially regarding illness. I have shared the Durham County Council flowchart on a number of occasions and would remind all members of the school community that students should not be in school if they have any of the COVID symptoms outlined in the flowchart. All members of society have a responsibility to self-isolate if necessary, as it protect others and reduces transmission. Please do not send your child to school in the hope that the school will make a judgement about the extent of their illness; we are not in a position to do so. Use the flowchart and make sensible decisions to protect your child and the wider community. In simple terms, if your child has a persistent cough, has lost their sense of smell or taste, or has a high temperature they should not be in school. If they are well, they should be present every day.

Can my child go to school today?

There are some minor changes to the Department for Education guidance for schools in relation to the national ‘lockdown’ implemented on Thursday. The key changes, which relate to the mandatory wearing of face coverings in communal areas and when using school transport, are already in place at Durham Johnston. More detailed overview of the new restrictions and how they affect schools can be found at this link

It is worth noting that schools have flexibility in terms of PE and sport. We believe that PE is vital for the physical and mental wellbeing of students and will continue to provide curricular and extracurricular opportunities for students to be active in consistent groups in accordance with our risk assessment. 

I wrote to all parents before half-term with information about our plans for each year group in November and December. In particular, parents and carers need to be aware that there are examinations for Year 11 and Year 13. It is important that students revise thoroughly and listen carefully to the guidance that they are given regarding exam technique and the demands of individual exam papers. We will share next steps with students and their families after the examination period. Please also note that these examinations would form only part of any Centre Assessed Grade that we might have to calculate in 2021 and that the Department for Education’s current plan is for all examinations to take place in May, June and July of next year. Therefore, this term’s examinations offer vital experience for participating students, but students still have a significant amount of time to develop and improve.

As part of our recent Year 7 survey it was clear that a number of parents were unsure about where to access information about subject specific content. We intend to complete similar surveys for Year 10 and Year 12 parents during this half-term. The following link is helpful for all parents and carers, as it outlines the work completed since September and the material that will be studied prior to Christmas. The detail can be found here:

Curriculum Overviews

I would like to thank those Year 7 parents and carers who have completed and returned the Home School Partnership agreement. If you haven’t done so yet, could you please return the partnership agreement in the self-addressed envelope that was provided with the letter that was sent home on 23rd October 2020.

A significant amount of information can be accessed via the school website and I will start to highlight updates and changes as part of my weekly letter. We will share information next week about the school’s House System and our intention to support Feeding Families and the ‘A Toy for Christmas’ appeal for families that might need additional support. We will also start to issue the Friday update via email during this half-term.

We are remembering the former students who were killed in World Wars One and Two on Wednesday 11th November. Councillor Elizabeth Scott will lay a wreath on behalf of the school’s Governing Body. All students will have a shared virtual assembly and will show their respect with a minute of silence. 107 men are named on the school’s war memorial.

We would also like to offer an update regarding two annual vaccination programmes that have been rescheduled for Years 7 and 8 by the Child Immunisation Team.

  • Rescheduled Year 8 HPV Vaccination - In March 2020, the school based immunisation team sent out information regarding the HPV vaccination scheduled to be given to pupils in Year 8 of school year 2020/2021, stating that the first dose would be given in Autumn 2020 and the second dose in Summer 2021. However due to the COVID 19 pandemic this has been rescheduled to Summer 2021 and Summer 2022. If you have any queries please email the immunisation team – hdft.immunisationteam@nhs.net


  • 2020-2021 Influenza Vaccination Programme – Parent/Carer of children of Year 7- The flu vaccine is being offered to your child; to consent, please visit: www.hdft.nhs.uk/electronic-consent. The School Code is: 114312 and the last date of submission is midnight 07/12/2020. If you do not have internet access, please contact us on 0300 003 2554 


It has been a good first week back within a difficult national context. Schools play a very important role within our wider society and we are committed to keeping Durham Johnston open, to providing an excellent education regardless of external circumstance and making sure that school is a place for students to learn, develop and grow. None of that is straight forward given our current context, but each passing week in school represents a small victory for our young people at present and I hope that you will continue to fully support the approach that we are taking.  

Have a good weekend.

Mr O’Sullivan