Dear Parents and Carers,
It has been an excellent week and we are delighted to be back. As I sit down to write this introduction to our first Friday Bulletin of the year, our upper school orchestra are meeting for their first rehearsal – the melody from Abba’s ‘Money, Money, Money’ can be heard swirling around the Atrium – and large numbers of students are on the tennis courts and cricket pitch enjoying after school social sport. It is hot, but they look happy.
It has been good to meet with each of our year groups as the week has progressed and assemblies have focused on making the most of your talent, trying new things at school and the importance of treating people kindly. We are proud that Durham Johnston is a comprehensive school and, regardless of background or characteristic, all of our students deserve fair and equal treatment. Those assemblies also focused on the achievements of two former Durham Johnston students. The first, Amanda Pritchard, was a student at the school in the early 1990s and was appointed as the Chief Executive of the NHS in early August. Our ethos stresses the importance of public service and we are very proud that a former student has achieved success in such a prominent national role, particularly one that helps people regardless of wealth and background. We are also very proud of the achievements of Joe Hugill. Joe is making great progress at Manchester United after his 2020 transfer from Sunderland and, on Wednesday, shared a picture of that day’s training session, where he can be seen showing one of the new boys the ropes. They are two examples of great achievement in different fields but both exemplify that being ambitious and making the most of your talent can lead to great success. Those who worked with Amanda and Joe remember them not just for their talent though; they were both kind, considerate and helped others.
Supporting new students and colleagues as they begin their first year at the school is always a positive experience and our new Year 7 and 12 students have settled very quickly. As have new staff and those staff taking on new roles. One of those is our new Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator, Helen Davies. She has asked me to share her contact details with all parents and carers and has requested that anyone with a question regarding special educational needs contact her via the following email address: email@example.com
We have also written to our primary partners this week to share the dates for our Year 6 Open Evenings and will update the website on Monday 13th September with more information on the in person and virtual aspects of the two evenings.
The bulletin below contains a wide range of news and information about life in school, and I would encourage you to read it closely.
It is great to be back and we are looking forward to the term ahead.
School photographs are scheduled for Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th September for students in Years 7-13. The school has a very good relationship with Phototronics and has carefully discussed both safeguarding and the school’s risk assessment to ensure that photographs are taken in the safest context possible. We have booked Year 11, 12 and 13 group photographs for the start of the summer term so that students in those year groups will have a photograph along with their year books.
Lateral Flow Testing & Positive Tests
The majority of Year 7 students completed testing in school on Friday 3rd September and are now familiar with lateral flow testing. The school ensured medical overview of the testing process and would like to thank all of those within our community who volunteered to support testing. The school has also distributed new lateral flow tests for all students via form classes this week and would emphasise again the importance of twice weekly testing to protect others within our community. Please continue to prioritise this. If your child tests positive, please book a PCR test immediately and ensure that your child does not attend school until the result is confirmed. It is also becoming clear nationally that Test & Trace are identifying siblings as close contacts and recommending PCR Tests immediately. Therefore, it is sensible to wait for the PCR test results for all children within the family before they return to school. Whilst the DfE’s guidance suggests that siblings should continue to attend, it also proposes that schools make sensible decisions for the good of their community. That approach would appear to be consistent to the advice that Test and Trace have offering in and we feel it is a helpful way to protect communities whilst also doing all that we can to prioritise excellent attendance. We will continue to update you on any changes as we become more familiar with the management of cases within the county. If your child is unwell or has Covid symptoms they should take a test, you should seek medical guidance and your child should not attend school.
School Information Evenings for Parents and Carers
We are holding a series of information events for parents and carers in the coming weeks, starting with years 8 and 9. More information can be found here:
Year 8 and 9 Parental Information Sessions
Sixth Form Achievements
Congratulations to the former sixth form students now due to commence their next steps in education or employment. They achieved a deserved, excellent standard of A-level results, exemplifying their talent, dedication and fortitude. The students adapted exceptionally well to the challenges posed to their education, maintaining their focus and working closely with their teachers throughout their time of study. The calibre of the destinations to which they are headed is testament to their collective talents. 111 students have gained entry to Russell Group or Sutton Trust universities, with 17 enrolling at Leeds, 13 at York, 11 at Newcastle and 9 at Durham. This shows that many of our young people have chosen to remain in the wider North East for their studies and shows the exceptional standard of Higher Education that is locally on offer for our young people. 9 students are studying Medicine, with some choosing to do this close to home on the excellent course at Sunderland. 12 students are studying further afield at Oxbridge, 4 in London, 3 in Wales, 18 in Scotland, 2 in the USA and 1 in the Netherlands. These students exhibit the fulfilment of a ‘global future’ that is possible when embarking on A-level study in our school.
Additionally, others will be commencing Degree Apprenticeships in Accountancy, Pharmacy, Business Management, Clinical Neuro-physiology, again showing the prestige and variety of opportunities that our students have afforded themselves. Furthermore, we were delighted to hear that one student has been awarded the prestigious ‘Brian Cooper Scholarship’ at Durham University for their undergraduate course in Combined Social Sciences, offering them significant financial support with living costs throughout their three years of undergraduate study. We wish all of our leavers the very best of luck, confident that they will fulfil their ambitions with the same dedication, ebullience and good character they demonstrated when studying with us.
Finally, it has been lovely to welcome our new starters in Year 12 and our returning students in Year 13. We hope they have a rewarding year where through their graft, precise research and working with those around them, they reach similarly exceptional heights of the cohort that has preceded them.
Deputy Head of Sixth Form
Sixth Form Notices
Please click the link below to read the weekly digest of news and information for Sixth Form Students.
Week beginning 13th September
Keeping our students safe online is of ever increasing importance. We have a number of guides available to support students, parents and carers in this, which can be found in the online safety section of the website. We upload a e-safety newsletter on a monthly basis, and you will also find an updated Online Parental Controls Booklet there, which you can also view via this link.
Our weekly schedule of rehearsals and activities can be found below and all ensembles made a good start this week. New members are always welcome. Please view this letter for more information and ask your child to speak to a member of the Music Department if they have any questions.
Subject Leader, Music
Do you enjoy performing or technical theatre? Would you like to write the drama?
We have several clubs that start next week that may interest you! All clubs start next week.
- Technical Theatre Club
All years welcome.
Tuesdays 2.45-3.45 in the Drama Studio.
Begins Tuesday 14th of September.
You will learn how to use all the fantastic equipment we have in school as well as design elements and stage management. You will also have a chance to practise these skills during performances throughout the year if you choose to continue.
- Script Writing Club
Tuesday lunchtimes, 13.00-13.30 in the Drama Studio.
Begins Tuesday 14th of September.
Thursday lunchtimes, 12.00-12.30 in the Drama Studio.
Begins Thursday 16th of September.
If you love writing and would like to learn how to write scripts in different genres, whilst getting a lot of support and ideas, this is the club for you!
Bring a packed lunch, or see Ms Ayrey for a front of queue lunch pass.
- Key Stage 3 Drama Club
Wednesdays 2.45-3.45 in the Drama Studio.
Begins Wednesday 15th of September.
Years 7 and 8
Thursdays 2.45-3.45 in the Drama Studio.
Begins Thursday 16th of September.
If you love performing or just want to have fun, you will learn a lot of performing and creative drama skills.
Please note for health and safety, numbers are limited to 30 for each session. Sign up on Thursday 9th and 16th of September during both lunchtimes outside the drama studio.
Subject Leader, Drama
A full range of extra-curricular clubs and trials have started this week and it has been excellent to see a return to a more normal program.
Large numbers took part in Year 7 boys’ football trials, with the first league games next week. Cross-country, netball, girls’ basketball, girls’ football and rugby clubs have also been very well attended, with between 50 and 100 students involved each evening.
County Cup cricket finals have also taken place this week. After a successful summer of cricket we had three teams into the finals – the only school in the county to achieve this!
On Tuesday, our Year 9 team took on St Michael’s in the semi-final in a great match. We batted first and scored 102. In a close finish, they needed 11 from the last over. However, it proved too much for them as we reached the County final with an 8 run victory.
Yesterday, our Year 8 team took on High Tunstall in the county final. This proved to be a very one-sided match. They batted first and an outstanding bowling display saw us bowl them out for only 30 runs; an outstanding display from Eric Meek in particular, taking 5 wickets including a hat trick. It took us fewer than 4 overs to get the runs to become County Champions. Our Year 9 team were then due to play in the afternoon, but unfortunately a torrential downpour at lunchtime meant the game had to be postponed.
Today our Year 11 team are taking part in their county finals at Hetton Lyons CC. Good luck to them!
Subject Leader, PE
England Rugby Referees Association Referee's Award
Congratulations to the students from Years 10, 11, 12 and 13 who worked hard during the summer and gave up two days of their holiday to complete an intensive Rugby Football Union referee course in school. The RFU representatives were very impressed with both the ability and conduct of our students, all of whom are now qualified YMO's (Young Match Officials).
Mr Humberstone, PE Department