1 October 2021

Dear Parents & Carers,

It is week 5 and students have adjusted to being back at school and are now very familiar with routines, their teachers and their lessons. New Year 7 and 12 students seem very confident around the building and exam year groups have settled quickly. Year 13 have started their diagnostic exams this week and Year 11 are preparing to complete a full range of exams prior to half-term. It is very important that they revise thoroughly, try hard and respond positively to feedback. I shared similar sentiments last week, as we are now starting to get a sense of how the year will shape up for those completing GCSE and A level examinations in 2022. Ofqual shared their initial plans yesterday and we intend to consider the detail carefully before writing to all parents and carers to explain how it will affect students at Durham Johnston. On Monday we provided a detailed update for Year 11 families and outlined how we would use our experience to support students, would continue to prioritise clear and well-timed communication and would identify key points of support for students so that they peak at the right time for exams. Mrs Clark (English) Mrs Urwin (Mathematics) and Miss Murphy (Science) all shared practical tips to help parents to provide support at home. Mrs McFadden has since written to Year 11 families with additional information and a mock exam timetable. It is important to share that detail as it demonstrates that we are thinking carefully about how best to structure the year so that our students succeed, are well supported and don’t feel undue pressure. Mrs Lennon and Mr Wilbraham have also met with Year 12 families this week to discuss how they have settled in to their A Level study. We will issue ‘settling in’ reports later in the term for Years 7, 10 and 12 so that parents can be given clear information about attitudes to learning, effort and organisation. This level of communication is very important so that misunderstandings don’t arise.

Mrs Lennon also spoke at our Year 11 session and will lead for the school as part of next week’s 6th Form open evening. We are very proud of our national reputation for excellence at A Level and regularly welcome each year students to our 6th Form from between 25 and 35 other schools. They join over 50% of our Year 11 students and have access to over 25 A Level subject choices. We also offer excellent pastoral support and advice and countless opportunities for leadership. Our Year 13 Head Student Team have already started to make an effective contribution to school life and our new 6th Form governors will participate in the first governing body meeting before the end of term.

There has been a decrease in Covid case numbers in school this week, with 15 recorded cases, but it is very important to emphasise again that students who are unwell, or who have tested positive via lateral flow or are awaiting a PCR result should not be sent to school. If your child has tested positive it is also very sensible to keep siblings at home until their PCR results have been returned. All siblings living in the same home will be identified as close contacts. We have also been asked to share additional information relating to Covid 19 which you can find below.

We have spoken with the local Public Health Team again this week and they advised that our case numbers are stable and that no additional measures are currently needed in school. We will continue to monitor cases and will advise families immediately if that need changes.

We are now 5 weeks into a very successful return and I would like to thank parents and carers for their ongoing support.

Mr O’Sullivan

Covid Update

We have been asked to share some additional information by the NHS Harrogate Trust and the Local Authority relating to vaccinations and Covid 19. Durham County Council have asked us to share the following detail regarding procedures if a student in school tests positive, and advice should your child be symptomatic.

DCC Letter for Parents

The NHS have also produced the following exemplar letter in relation to vaccinations. Please note that we have not yet been contacted by the Immunisation Team regarding a specific date but wanted to share with you the information that we have received to this point. Hopefully that will help all families to make an informed choice that is right for their individual circumstances.

Exemplar Letter


Sixth Form Notices

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

Week beginning 4th October


Sixth Form Mentoring for Year 11

This year, Year 11 pupils have the excellent opportunity of having a Sixth Form mentor to help support you in your academic work. This can be in a subject of your choice, and we have a wealth of Sixth Form volunteers ready. All you need to do is to go to your tutor group team and find the Sixth Form mentoring forms quiz. The quiz will ask you to select which subject you would like support in. You must sign up for this by the 8th October and the mentoring will begin from the 1st November on a weekly basis. This will take place in either your lunchtime or after school.

For more information, please contact Miss Stannard.   


House System News

Last Friday we were able to celebrate the success of our 2021 winning house Annand (congratulations Annand!) with food and ice-cream in the sunshine, followed by sport and recreation on the field. After a challenging 18 months is has been super to see so many students competing in our house events and competitions – their resilience throughout this time was second to none. A close fought contest for the top spot – who will win the 2022 House Cup? Time will tell! Good luck to all!

Miss Forbes
Senior Teacher, the House System




Student-led Societies – The Big Launch

In Durham Johnston Sixth Form, we have a great tradition of student societies. Leading, co-leading, presenting at, debating in, getting involved in – a wide range of societies – is a great way to develop transferrable skills, immerse yourself in our Sixth form community – and have a good, informal time in school (often involving interesting food). Our societies for this academic year are starting w/c 4th Octoberclick here for the current list.

It is very, very important that we act respectfully in our societies – they are a place for debate, extension of knowledge and understanding and social interaction in a less formal setting – a very important part of our Sixth Form community life. For the present time, we can demonstrate this respect by maintaining safe distances and (perhaps) wearing masks. Also – leave the room tidy.

Not sure if the society is for you? Go along and try it – and / or speak with the leads. See the full list on the Sixth Form Office wall.


Mrs Lennon

Head of Sixth Form


Careers and Guidance Department Notices

Online Work Experience and Career Days for students

There are several online career days available for students aged 14-18 run by careerdays.co.uk, designed to help them choose a future career and to give them some work experience to use in their applications. Every student obtains a personalised certificate and all take place online together with students from all over the world.

They are single day courses on a Saturday and usually from 11-4pm. Courses cost £59.00.

The schedule is as follows:

Midwifery -  Saturday October 2nd 2021
Law - Saturday October 9th 2021
Psychology - Saturday October 16th 2021
Teaching - Saturday October 23rd 2021
Business - Saturday November 6th 2021
Architecture - Saturday November 13th 2021
Vet - Saturday November 20th 2021
Performing Arts - Saturday December 12th 2021
Computer Science - Saturday January 22nd 2022
Dentistry - Saturday March 5th 2022
Medicine - Saturday March 22nd 2022

Students just need to visit www.careerdays.co.uk to enrol on any course.

Newcastle University Open Day

Saturday 9th October

Year 11-13 students

Newcastle University are hosting their second Autumn Open Day next Saturday which offers both in-person and online elements. There will be live chats with current students and virtual Q&A sessions, to on-campus tours and subject sessions.

Anyone wishing to attend can secure their spot now by at this link. Please ensure you put the correct enrolment year on the form! (Year13 – 2022; Year12 - 2023 and Year11 - 2024.)

Mr Kennedy
Subject Leader, Guidance


Music Notices

Musical Instruments

We are delighted that each week over 170 instruments are brought into school by pupils, however as many cases are very similar, please could I ask you to ensure that instruments are clearly labelled. The department has a stock of name fobs and can supply these free of charge, if pupils need them. Also, musical instruments are usually covered by household insurance, but please could I ask you to check this as accidents do happen from time to time.

And finally, we have limited storage for instruments, so please do encourage your child to take their instrument home on the day of their lesson/ rehearsal, if at all possible.

New starter opportunities

Please note that we still have the opportunities for year 7 and 8 pupils to start or resume flute, clarinet, trumpet, orchestral percussion, drum kit or keyboard.

Durham Music Service Music Ensembles

We are delighted that these will resume in the near future and registrations of interest need to be submitted by Thursday 7th October. Please note that these groups are not just for pupils that receive instrumental or vocal tuition from Durham Music Service. Any pupils with relevant skills/ experience are welcome.

For more details please follow this link:

DMS Ensembles

Mr Holmes

Subject Leader, Music


PE News
Rugby and netball have taken centre-stage this week as we have collected the first silverware of the season.

On Monday our unbeaten start to the football season continued as our U14 girls travelled to Cardinal Hume in the English Schools Cup. We produced an outstanding performance to outplay a good team to reach the next round with a 7 – 0 victory. On the same night, our VIth form team hosted Framwellgate in the league. We dominated the game but struggled to score. However, we ended up with a deserved 2 – 1 win.

Finally on Monday we had an exciting “taster session” for a sport called Laser Run. A local coach came to school to give our cross-county club a practice. The sport involves shooting a laser gun at a target and running a 400M course up to 4 times. We have now arranged a friendly competition against Durham School in a couple of weeks’ time.

Unfortunately the remainder of this weeks’ football was cancelled with schools unable to fulfil fixtures.

On Tuesday our U16 rugby team were at Stockton RFC competing in the U16 County Finals. Despite the poor weather the standard of rugby was very high as the best five schools in the county took part. In an amazing night for Durham Johnston, we remained unbeaten to win the event and become County Champions! The highlight was a tense victory against Yarm School which we won with a penalty in the dying minutes. The win was particularly pleasing as we had a large number of Year 10’s in the team – all of whom were a credit to the school.

We collected a second trophy on Wednesday as we hosted the U19 Durham Netball tournament. Again, five schools competed and it was similar story as we won all our games to become champions. Our final game was against Durham High, but we proved too strong for them with a comfortable victory. This was excellent preparation for the north-east finals at the Beacon of Light in November.

Also on Wednesday, we hosted the first of this seasons primary school football leagues. It was great to see so many young footballers enjoying playing to such a high standard. Thank you to our Year 9 football team who gave up their time to referee.

You can read our weekly football match reports from our Sixth Form football ambassador here.

Mr Hopper

Subject Leader, PE