7 May 2021

Dear Parents & Carers,

The national picture continues to look very positive and that is clearly having an impact in school too. We have continued to see significant support for extracurricular sport, and it is exciting that the music department are starting to plan for the return of extracurricular activities too. There are some other significant developments and dates to share with you in relation to the remainder of this half-term and for June and July.

Parents’ Consultation Evenings

We have scheduled three parents’ evenings for the summer term. The virtual system that has been used for parents’ evenings during this academic year has proven to be very popular and we will share additional information regarding the appointment process in the coming weeks. The three remaining virtual parents’ evenings will take place in the following order: 

  • Year 10 - Monday 14th June 2021.
  • Year 8 - Monday 28th June 2021.
  • Year 7 - Monday 5th July 2021.

We are very keen to meet with parents and will issue end of year reports for all students. Students in Years 7 - 10 will be completing an externally marked suite of progress tests in English, Maths and Science (Years 8-10 only). The tests are online and will take place in the final half term. They are designed to support teachers in benchmarking pupils’ subject knowledge and skills, and to measure their progress over time. This will allow us to compare our students against national benchmarks, pinpoint learning gaps and modify our curriculum as necessary from September 2021 onwards.  

 

Year 11 and 13 Leaving Dates

There are other important dates to share too. Years 11 and 13 are currently working very hard with their teachers, revising, practising exam technique and completing assessments. They are working very hard and we are very impressed with their good humour and dedication. We have completing 4 weeks in school and they are now into the final two weeks of the process. We have celebration days planned for Year 11 and Year 13 leaving dates. We have shared that information in this week’s assemblies for Years 11 and 13 and have co-ordinated both dates with several other secondary schools in County Durham. 

  • Year 13 Leaving Brunch and Celebration - Tuesday 25th May 2021.
  • Year 11 Celebrations, Lunch and Events - Wednesday 26th May 2021.

It has been a very difficult year for many families and we are very mindful that our students should have shared experiences and opportunities. The rituals of school life are important and leaving school is one of the most significant. Year 11 students will have the chance to sign shirts and their year books, and we have also covered the cost of food and activities that we have planned. We will do the same for Year 13, as we want to celebrate their time with us and to wish them well, whatever their next steps might be. Schools are not holding Proms or Leavers Balls this year, but we will ensure that both Year 11 and Year 13 have the opportunity to celebrate in school without any form of additional personal expensive. Many families are struggling at present and we do not want to accentuate the differences between people at a time when community is so important. Students have been very understanding and are looking forward to the final week of term.

 

Transition & Induction

We are looking forward to welcoming new students to the school in June and July. We have been working with our primary partners to plan a Year 6 induction day and have plans for two induction days for prospective Year 12 students. Our Transition and 6th Form Teams will share more information in the coming weeks. 

  • Year 11 into 12 Induction Days – Thursday 24th and Friday 25th June 2021. 
  • Year 6 into 7 Induction Day – Friday 2nd July 2021.

Year 6 parents can access additional information via the New Starters Tab on the school website and via an updated Headteacher’s welcome next week. Mrs Lennon & Mr Wilbraham will share next steps with Year 11 students via an assembly and visits to Y11 form classes.  

 

Year 9 Immunisation

We are finally able to arrange immunisation for Year 9 students in school. The NHS Immunisation Team will be visiting Durham Johnston on 20thMay 2021 to immunise pupils in Year 9 with their HPV vaccine. Students will be given additional information via the Form Tutor about the relevant times on that day. They have asked us to share the following message with parents and carers:

Dear Parent/Carer  

The immunisation team are due to attend your child’s school in the next 3 weeks to vaccinate Year 9 pupils with the HPV vaccine. This is their second dose therefore if your child has received their first dose then they will automatically be called by us for their second dose as you have already given consent for both doses. If you provided consent last year for the vaccines but your child has not received dose 1 then this will be given at this session. If you have not already consented for your child to receive these vaccines, and would like your child to receive them, please visit this link and use school code 114312 to give your consent. The last date to be able to give online consent is at 23.59pm on 12th May. If you have no internet access, please call the immunisation consent line on 01423 557693 and we can take your consent over the phone.

 

Lateral Flow Testing & Positive Cases

Students have been issued with a batch of new lateral flow tests via their Form Period today. Please check that they have been brought home and continue to complete testing twice a week in line with Government advice. Please continue to be cautious and do not send your child to school if they have any of the symptoms associated with Covid-19 and book a PCR test. I would like to thank all those parents and carers who have followed this guidance. We have had 2 confirmed cases since our return at Easter, but in both cases students were already self-isolating and, fortunately, Public Health England advised that no additional action was needed. Please continue to be vigilant as restrictions are eased and do all that you can to protect your family and the school community.

Can my child attend school today?


There has been a new round of rumours linked to changes that will be made by the Department for Education on 17th May 2021. We will operate within our current systems until we have had the opportunity to study any updated guidance. We have maintained this approach since March 2020 and will continue to do so. It would be wrong to comment on media speculation and we won’t change any of our school protocols until we have clear instruction to do so.  
 

Musical Enrichment & Instrumental/ Vocal Tuition

As noted above, we are pleased to report that musical lunchtime activities have made a good start and we very much hope that after-school ensemble rehearsals can resume in the week beginning 17th May 2021, with appropriate mitigations, when such things are once again permitted within the wider community.  Further details will be circulated about this when we receive guidance from the Local Authority. Weekly musical tuition from Durham Music Service has continued throughout this academic year and we would like to publicly thank the peripatetic staff who have continued to support the musical development of many members of the school community. They have been first class. This tuition will also continue for members of Year 11 and 13, even after their leaving date, and if pupils are coming on site for this sole purpose, they do not need to be in school uniform.  Also, if they are unable to attend the lessons, for any reason, we ask that they please inform their music teacher directly, so that this time can be reallocated.

 

Mental Health Awareness Week

Appropriately, the theme this year is #ConnectWithNature.  Year 12 will have an assembly next week about the importance of being mindful, looking after their own mental wellbeing and being supportive of others within our school community. You can read more at this link: Mental Health Awareness Week

Our Young Minds Society was established in 2011 and has been run by Sixth Form students very effectively. The society has offered help and support very effectively. The current society members will be working with younger students to raise awareness in the coming weeks and will share nationally discussed tips for good mental health and wellbeing. You can read more at youngminds.org.uk

 

Year 7 and 8 PE Kits

I would like to thank all those parents and carers who have ensured that younger students remember to bring their PE kits and get used to changing again at school. We think that this an important skill to develop and is a good step towards a more normal school experience. We are aware that Year 7 students are yet to have access to lockers and are currently working on a plan to allow them access before half-term, so that they can get used to that system for September and can store books and materials.

It is fair to note that younger students often forget things and we are aware that an increased number are forgetting to bring important items. Could you please check with your child to make sure they have what they need on daily basis? All schools have been asked to limit the number of adults visiting schools as part of ongoing risk assessments and there are concerns about items being passed to students via reception.  

 

Durham Youth Council Request

The Durham Youth Council have contacted us this week and have asked that we share a survey regarding summer activities. We are planning our own summer school for Year 6 students to help with the transition to a new school and it is good that students and their families consider how resources might be used. The Youth Council have accessed additional funding for young people in County Durham and want to consult with students about how it should be spent. They have asked students to complete the following survey so that their views can be heard and acted upon.

Click here to complete the survey.

 

This week’s update is very detailed and highlights that we are, I hope, gradually moving in the right direction in terms of a return to a more ‘normal’ school experience for our students. From a personal perspective it has also been a satisfying week. Like millions of other, I had a number of theories regarding the identify of ‘H,’ or the ‘Fourth Man’ in the final episode of ‘Line of Duty.’ As a longstanding Birmingham City supporter, I was ecstatic when it became apparent that the true heart of darkness and corruption across the entire series was revealed to be a professionally limited, dull and uninspiring follower of Aston Villa. Thank you Mr Mercurio and Keep Right On.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Mr O’Sullivan