18 June 2021

Dear Parents & Carers,

 

It has been a very important week for the school, with all GCSE and A Level grades being submitted after a very rigorous quality assurance process. We are very proud of the work that has been undertaken to support students and to give them every opportunity to succeed. We are now nearing the end of that process and can turn our attention to planning, as best we can, for the conclusion of this half-term, and a return in September. I make that comment because there is a sense of uncertainty in education about this half-term and what a return to school will look like in September 2021.

 

Like many of you reading this, we were very hopeful that the final weeks of term would allow for a greater sense of normality and an increased easing of restrictions. The Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday was unsurprising, but still disheartening in terms of its implications for Durham Johnston and schools more generally. As an example, both the Department for Education and the Durham Public Health England team have advised that it isn’t feasible for transition and induction to go ahead in large secondary schools this half-term.  On that basis, we have had to make the very difficult decision for our Year 6 and Year 12 transition and induction to be virtual again this year. Whilst this was very successful in 2020, we are still very disappointed that students cannot attend in person to meet with teachers and to meet future friends and classmates. We will write to Year 6 parents and carers next week and the 6th form team have also been in touch with Year 11 students to explain our next steps.

 

School staff have visited a large number of our primary partners and it has been excellent to meet with students and to answer their questions. It is a genuine shame that the students from 38 primary schools and 35 secondary schools will not be able to join us for our excellent induction days.  

 

Whilst representing a very brief update this week, there are a small number of additional points to share:

  • Parents’ Evenings - Monday’s Year 10 parents’ evening was very successful and I would like to thank all those who have contacted the school in support of the virtual system that we have in place. We have two additional parents’ evenings scheduled for this half-term, Year 8 on Monday 28th June and Year 7 on Monday 5th July. Mr Wright will share information with Year 8 parents and carers on Monday 21st June about how to access the virtual booking platform, with booking opening on Wednesday 23rd.
     
  • Extra-curricular Activities - We have updated the current extra-curricular programme for the final weeks of term, with a significant number of after school activities in place. Please encourage your child to check for any changes and to try something new if they haven’t participated to this point. Please also be aware that late buses are no longer running on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as we have been unable to secure any form of sponsorship.
     
  • The Importance of Testing - We are in the process of issuing the next batch of Lateral Flow Tests for students to take place. Please continue to test at home on a regular basis and to record the results of testing via the NHS App. Please do not send your child to school if they have Covid symptoms or are unwell. It is important that we protect each other as a community. At the time of writing, we have had no confirmed cases linked to the school this week.

 

I will write in greater depth next week and will share additional information about our plans for the final week of term. Thank you for your ongoing support.

 

Mr O’Sullivan