17 September 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

It has been a very encouraging and busy week in school. Year 7 are asking fewer questions about how to navigate the building, Year 10 and 12 students are familiarising themselves with new courses and specifications and we are preparing Year 11 and 13 for the trial exams that are scheduled for later in this term. We have also met with the parents and carers of Years 8 and 9 in person to outline the year ahead and it has been very encouraging to have families back into the building in a safe and well planned manner. The last time that Year 8 and 9 parents had the opportunity to meet with senior leaders was in either June or September 2019; a different era entirely. It was good to meet, to discuss the year ahead and to answer a wide variety of very sensible questions. All Year 8 and 9 parents will receive an email of the presentations that were shared. Hopefully they will give a sense of the school’s ethos, curriculum and pastoral support systems. We have similar meetings scheduled for Years 11, 12 and 13 this half-term and then for Year 7 and 10 parents after settling in reports are issued in early November. We have also welcomed new governors to the school this week, sharing information about the 2021 GCSE and A Level results, new Department for Education guidance and the importance of safeguarding. On that point, we are sharing information with all year groups on Monday morning about how to stay safe on the way to and from school.

Interviews have also taken place for our Year 13 head student team and we are delighted at both the number of applicants and the successful team that has been assembled. They play an important role in school governance, are a visible presence at open evenings and represent the student body of the school. They will be present at our upcoming open evenings as will the large number of other students who have volunteered to represent the school. We are fortunate to have so many community minded individuals at Durham Johnston.

I will meet the new head student team next week and will then start a process of meeting with students from all year groups to discuss their experiences at school. We also intend to survey both students and their families during the autumn term. Finally, we welcome Year 6 students and their families to our open evenings on Monday and Tuesday of next week and Year 11 students in the week beginning 4th October. Please check the school website for additional information. As you can clearly see, the school has been busy and purposeful and we are hopeful and excited about the year ahead. Enjoy the weekend.

Mr O’Sullivan


Covid Update

Like all Durham schools, we have experienced some positive cases in the first two weeks of term. There have been 19 cases across our 7 year groups, representing approximately 1% of the wider school population. We have sought advice from Public Health England and it is clear that our case numbers do not meet the criteria for further action, as they are not clustered within a particular group of children and those affected do not represent 10% of any cohort within school. We are sharing this information in a transparent way because schools are now operating within a very different system and context. In discussion with other school leaders and public health team members, it is important to note that schools are being encouraged to make common sense decisions regarding positive cases. On that basis, we would like to offer one piece of very important guidance. A number of the 19 cases are those where more than one sibling within a family is affected. All siblings sharing a home address are viewed by Test and Trace as close contacts and, as such, should take a PCR test as soon as possible. Test results are also being returned very quickly. Therefore, book a PCR for any sibling or child where a positive case has been recorded as quickly as possible and do not send your child to school if they are awaiting a PCR result. This small and very sensible measure will help to prevent transmission within our community and will mean that additional measures are not required or recommended by the local public health team. If PCR test results are negative then students can return immediately. If positive, the number of contacts has been reduced and the community protected. We feel that this is a common sense approach that all members of our community will support. If you need to report a positive case or have a Covid query, please contact the school using the following email address: covidreporting@durhamjohnston.org.uk

If you contact the school via that address you will receive the following acknowledgement of receipt:
If you are reporting a positive PCR result for your child / children can you please ensure that you include the following information which can be found on the NHS email or text you have already received confirming your positive result:

- The date of the PCR test
- The end of the isolation date
Thank you for your co-operation.

Using this system effectively will allow us to monitor any new cases very carefully to support families and to seek additional guidance.


Vaccination of those aged 12-15 update

You will be aware of the decision made on Tuesday 14th September by the UK’s chief medical officers for the vaccination of 12-15 year olds.

That was followed by updated guidance for schools from the Department for Education. It is very important that all parents and carers of students aged 12 to 15 read that guidance very carefully.

Department for Education Guidance

In simple terms, the school’s role is very clear. We will provide a venue for vaccinations if requested and administrative support, in line with the school’s role in any vaccination or public health programme. Any discussion regarding consent has been rightfully placed with families and the medical profession. Legal accountability for offering Covid-19 vaccines to children and young people sits with the School Age Immunisation Service and not with schools. The role of schools will be limited to hosting these sessions and providing and sharing associated communications, with the vaccines administered by healthcare staff, as is normal with school-based vaccinations. The guidance is absolutely clear that schools are not responsible for mediating between parents and children who may disagree about whether or not to consent. This is the role of registered nurses in the School Age Immunisation Service. I would strongly recommend that you read the guidance and seek additional medical advice if unsure. The guidance has a series of frequently asked question and suggests additional reading if parents, carers and students would like access to additional fact checked evidence.

Schools in Durham will receive an additional public health update next week and we will share that detail as quickly as possible via email and the school website.


Sixth Form Notices

Please click the link below to read the weekly digest of news and information for Sixth Form Students.

Week beginning 20th September


GlaxoSmithKline Virtual Work Experience (Years 11-13)

The GSK UK wide virtual work experience runs again in October half term. This is a great opportunity for our students from Years 11-13 who may have an interest in the pharmaceutical industry or science in general. They may have a curiosity for GSK or apprenticeship/graduate opportunities and this will look good on applications for these programmes or university.

This is a separate programme to the usual Barnard Castle site specific week. During the week students are invited to take a virtual visit to different UK sites.

The link to the application form is now live and can be found here:
GSK Virtual Work Experience 2021 Sign-Up.

The notices below are from just a few of our extra-curricular clubs and activities.
We have now published a timetable for the term ahead, which you can view at this link.

World Challenge

The World Challenge 2023 expedition to Borneo was launched to Year 11 and Year 12 in assembly this week. The expedition takes place in July 2023 and lasts 3 weeks. Students will spend 3 weeks in Borneo trekking in the jungle, climbing Mount Kinabalu, working on rainforest conservation and orangutan conservation and will also visit cultural sites. This expedition is open to current Year 11 and 12 students but if a student is in Year 11 they must be intending to stay at Durham Johnston for Sixth Form. You can view the video shown in assembly at this link.

For any student interested in finding out more then please use the link below to register for the parents' evening zoom call run by World Challenge on Thursday 23rd September.

Parents’ Evening Registration

The parents evening does not commit you to anything and will give you further information about the sign up process.

If you have any questions please contact Mrs Hardwick or Mr Everett via Teams or school@durhamjohnston.org.uk.


Year 9 Programming Club

There are still some places available for the Y9 programming club! If you are interested please see Mr O’Connor in IT2 or send a message via Teams; more information below.


Drama Notices

All extracurricular drama activities began this week and have proved very popular! Year 7 and 8 Drama Club's 30 places have been filled. Many other students' names are on the reserved list, and they will be contacted as soon as a place becomes available. There are still places in script writing club on a Thursday lunchtime for Years 7 and 8.

Ms Ayrey
Subject Leader, Drama.


Music Notices

All ensembles and music groups have made a good start to the year. New members are most welcome and the following groups would particularly welcome new members.


  • Junior Orchestra – Year 7 and 8 string and woodwind players
  • Senior Choir – tenors and basses
  • Big Band – brass and woodwind players

Our weekly programme of rehearsals and activities may be found below:

Starting or restarting lessons on an instrument.

Now that the teaching timetable for our visiting music teachers has settled, we are delighted to say that we have room for pupils to start, or perhaps re-start lessons on the following instruments - Flute, Clarinet, Trumpet, Trombone, French Horn, orchestral percussion or Keyboard. Please ask your child to come and see me at some point in the near future if they would like to find out more information about this opportunity.

Mr Holmes
Subject Leader, Music


PE News

It has been another excellent week of trials and clubs. On Wednesday it was particularly pleasing to see a large number of girls enjoying the first girls’ rugby training session of the year. This was excellent preparation for the first rugby fixtures which are only a few weeks away.
Football matches did start this week with the first boys‘ leagues games played on Tuesday. We welcomed four teams from Staindrop Academy. It proved to be an excellent start to the league campaign with four victories:

The Year 7 team won a close game 3 – 2. The Year 8 game was more straightforward as we won 13 – 1. The Year 10 game was another excellent match which finished 3 – 2 after we scored in the closing minutes. It was also good news for the Year 11s who won 4 – 0.

League games also took place last night as we hosted Greenfield. We continued our unbeaten start with two more victories. Unfortunately Greenfield had to postpone the Year 7 game, but another dominant performance saw our Year 8s win 10 – 0. Year 9 followed suit with excellent first match of the season, also winning 10 – 0.

Finally, we have re-launched the PE department’s dedicated Twitter account, where you will be able to keep up to date with all the latest PE news including results and important information; you can follow us @djcspe1.
We also publish a weekly timetable of sports clubs, matches and events on the Extra-Curricular page of the website. Please have a look to see what we get up to each week!

Mr Hopper
Subject Leader, PE