10 August 2021

Congratulations to Year 13 on their superb A Level results


We are very proud of the excellent A Level results achieved by students at Durham Johnston in 2021. The results underline their hard work and determination, also highlighting the support of their families and the commitment and dedication of their teachers. We are very proud of their fantastic results, particularly given the challenging circumstances in which they have been achieved.


The achievement of students nationally should be a cause for celebration. Unfortunately, it only took until Thursday 5th August for the first negative stories to appear in the press about grade inflation. Since then, I have both listened to and read a significant amount from pundits critiquing students and schools and, whether intentionally or not, undermining this year’s grades before students have even had the opportunity to open results envelopes. It is very clear that few of those commenting will have completed their own studies in such difficult and uncertain circumstances. It is perhaps important to note again just how challenging the experience has been for our students. Their Year 12 studies were curtailed in March 2020 and they didn’t return to school for lessons until June and July of that year, working online until that point. Students returned for their second year of A level study in September 2020 and had to work within the confines of protective bubbles and social distancing, with the constant worry of either testing positive or being a close contact of someone who had. Exams were cancelled in January 2021 and a national lockdown was implemented, with students accessing effective online learning remotely. They then returned in mid-March, at the same time as the Government’s ‘contingency plans’ were finally shared with schools. After revising over the Easter period, they completed a series of exam level internal assessments over an intensive 7-week period. Those offering opinions about this year’s grades should consider that context before rushing to any form of negative judgement. The success of our students and all those receiving their results nationally should be celebrated as they have been achieved in very adverse conditions. Our students have proven themselves to be hard working, resilient and adaptable; whatever the last two years have thrown at them, they have been well supported and have risen to each new challenge. Their success is greatly deserved, as it is a result of significant and sustained effort.


We are delighted for so many of our students who have gained entry to a great range of competitive Higher Education courses. A large number of our students will be undergraduates locally, at Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland universities. Many others will remain in the North, studying for their degrees in Leeds, York, Manchester and Liverpool. Some will be reading their subject further afield in Bristol, London, Cambridge and Oxford. We also have a number of students who will study in Scotland, at Edinburgh, Glasgow and St. Andrews, in Wales and the USA. The selection of the courses to be studied cover the range of academic disciplines from Accountancy, and Aerospace Engineering to Urban Planning and Veterinary Medicine. Most students will study single honours although a significant number of will enrol on joint or combined degrees. Others are starting employment and degree level apprenticeships, such as Business Management, Pharmacy and Clinical Neurophysiology; we know that they will excel too.


Our core values relate to academic excellence for all, the need for students to acquire knowledge, the need to contribute to society and preparation for future employment, wherever in the world that might be. We also strongly believe that all students should have those opportunities, regardless of background. Once again, our students have risen to the challenges set before them, and we wish them all the best as they begin the next stage of their education, training or employment. Their results are outstanding and we are very proud of their achievements. Whatever their next steps, we hope they find the experience truly rewarding and transformational and we know that their effort over the past two years stand them in good stead for the future. We also know that they will go on to make a positive contribution to society and will offer help, support and guidance for others.


We congratulate them and wish them good luck, whatever the future may hold. They have earned their success.


Mr O’Sullivan