19 November 2021

Dear Parents & Carers,

Thank you for your support in relation to last week’s update and the need for students to think about how they use social media, and the impact that thoughtless behaviour can have on others. In my 3 years as Headteacher I have been very fortunate that the majority of updates that I have shared have been positive and, when on occasion, it has been necessary to be more direct, it is heartening that parents have offered support.

Duck Day returned for Year 9 this week, with an assortment of ducks, both large and small, being traded, negotiated, and critiqued. The event is meant to develop teamwork, to introduce students to production line techniques and to help students work with those beyond their usual friendship group. I would like to thank all those giving up their free time to work with our students and to thank the overwhelming number of students for their good conduct.

It has also been an important week for Year 11. On Wednesday they received the results from their recent mock examinations in an assembly and those results can be accessed by all parents and carers via the Durham Johnston SIMS Parent App. Bookings for their virtual consultation evening on 29th November also open next week. The consultation evening is intended to offer an overview of the mock exam results and the steps that students need to take in order to be successful in upcoming mock and final exams in 2022. It would be sensible to review your child’s results again prior to meeting with teachers, and to look through the PowerPoint shared with all parents and carers after our Year 11 information session in September. Year 12 settling in reports will also be issued next week as we continue to offer support and feedback over their 2 years of A Level study.

We surveyed parents on a number of occasions last year and it was very useful in helping us to have a good understanding of those things that we are doing very effectively and areas where we might be able to do things differently, or better. We will send a series of questions to all parents and carers via email next week and would appreciate your feedback. The survey will be sent on Monday.

We have been very fortunate with dry and comparatively warm weather in early November, but things are forecast to become colder next week. Ventilation is also very important and we will continue to open all windows at the start of the school day. With that in mind, we have informed all students that they may wear their red PE tops or a grey V-neck jumper under their blazers as an additional layer, as they were allowed to do last year. These can only be worn under blazers and as an additional item. They cannot be worn instead of a blouse or shirt and tie. Hoodies and different coloured PE tops are not allowed and there are slightly different rules for Year 11. They are usually allowed to wear leavers’ hoodies from this point onwards and they will be delivered very soon. Until that time, they have been given special permission to wear plain grey sweatshirts. Students have also been made aware of our longstanding rule that no coats can be worn inside the building. We are very conscious of uniform cost, with it being possible to buy items of uniform in both specialist shops and supermarkets. Therefore, it is important that students wear the uniform that is allowed. Students will be also asked to remove any items of uniform that are inappropriate. Please discuss this with your child so that they understand and accept our rules regarding uniform as it means that students are committed to being part of our school community.

Good attendance and punctuality are very important. Please be aware that all students need to be present on the school site by 8.20 a.m. and in form by 8.25 a.m. A small number of students are late because of issues with transport and we fully understand when that occurs. However, a number of students have been late recently who live very near to the school and it is of great importance that they are punctual. In addition to including that information in references and reports, we also want students to be on time so that they do not miss out on important opportunities or information. Please discuss this with your child so that they understand and accept our rules regarding punctuality, as being on time means that students are committed to being part of our school community.

We are currently planning for both the school Christmas Concert and for a (scaled down) Cathedral service for younger students. Both are wonderful events in the school calendar and this year they will require detailed risk assessments, careful planning and contingencies. We will offer a detailed update next week so that you are aware of our plans.

Thank you again for your ongoing support and we would also like to thank our local MP, Mary Foy, for visiting the school today and for being available to discuss a number of outstanding educational issues.

Finally, a reminder that, as shared in term dates published at the start of the year, school is closed on Friday 26th November for INSET.

Have a good weekend.

Mr O’Sullivan 

Covid, Testing & Vaccination Update

We have shared another update in a separate news article this afternoon, which we encourage all parents and carers to read carefully.

Please click here to read.


Maths Olympiad

In October three of our sixth form students took part in the Mathematics Olympiad for Girls. Two of our students, Alina Krokhin and Zoe Clark (Year 12), received a Certificate of Merit for their performance and Lina Van Hunen in Year 13 achieved a Distinction. Lina’s score was a record for a Durham Johnston student and was good enough to earn her a Book Prize from the UKMT as well as a place in the first round of the British Maths Olympiad. An exceptional performance by all three students, well done!

We would also like to extend our congratulations to Will Cook, who recently received his Bronze Medal from the Junior Maths Olympiad, which he took part in at the end of last year.

Mr Patterson
Maths Department


Student Development Events


Today Year 8 and Year 9 were treated to a performance by ‘Bronnie’ followed by an inspirational talk and Q&A about mental health and body image.

Bronnie is a Pop/Rock Artist from the North West. Bronnie equips a high energy persona with catchy Alt/Punk/ Rock influences. Having previously gained extensive touring experience around the UK, Europe and USA, she has also supported a number of high profile acts including Avril Lavigne & Little Mix. Bronnie’s most successful record to date is her most recent single 'Colour Looks Good On You' which charted in the iTunes Rock charts as: #1 in the UK, Belgium & Ireland. Due to the success of her podcast, Bronnie now has her own Rock & Alt radio show 'The Bronnie Show' on Liverpool's 'KCCLIVE' 99.8FM Radio. Having had her own struggles with bullying, body image and mental health, Bronnie is the perfect advocate to deliver such a positive message to young people all over the UK. Please find a couple of links below to her music:

Bronnie – Not Too Late To Be Okay (Official Music Video)

Bronnie – Danced With The Devil (Charity Single with profits donated to a mental health charity)


Year 9 Duck Production Day

On Wednesday and Thursday this week Year 9 were involved all day in the annual ‘Durham Johnston Duck Day’. This involved setting up a company of 8 people and appointing a manager, buyer, seller and duck production staff and over the course of the day they bought materials, manufactured the ducks and then sold them hopefully for a profit. This fast paced team activity allowed students the opportunity to appreciate the changing demands of the market place and the need for companies to adapt to survive. Students were challenged with teamwork, communication skills, enterprise skills and most of all the ability to make paper ducks in varying colours and sizes.

Please click here to view this week’s Careers and Guidance Opportunities Bulletin Board.

Mr Kennedy
Subject Lead for Careers and Guidance


Sixth Form Notices

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

Week beginning 22nd November


Music Notices

Evensong in Durham Cathedral.
Chamber Choir will be singing the service of Evensong in Durham Cathedral on Monday 22nd November. The service starts at 5.30pm and all are welcome to attend. Please be seated by 5.20pm and the service will be finished by 6.15pm. Please note that the Cathedral requests that those attending services wear face coverings, unless they are exempt on health grounds.

School Christmas Concerts - Soloists
Many thanks to the pupils who have expressed an interest in playing a solo in the Christmas Concert. We are pleased to say that all solo slots are now filled.

Thursday 9th December – Concert featuring Junior Choir, Junior Orchestra, Wind Band and selected soloists.
This concert will be performed twice, at 6.30pm and again at 7.30pm. Performing pupils will need to be present for both performances and we ask that parents, carers, family and friends only purchase tickets for one of the two performances.

Friday 10th December – Concert featuring Big Band, Senior Orchestra, Senior Choir, Chamber Choir and selected soloists.
This concert will be performed twice, at 6.30pm and again at 7.30pm. Performing pupils will need to be present for both performances and we ask that parents, carers, family and friends only purchase tickets for one of the two performances.

Tickets, priced at £4 and £2 concessions, are on sale from the Music Department. Please note that these will be limited to 170 per performance and will not be for sale on the door but in advance only. Payment by cash or cheque, payable to ‘Durham Johnston School’. There are still tickets available for all four performances.

Mr Holmes
Subject Leader, Music


Pride Bake Sale

Last Tuesday as part of anti-bullying week I was not surprised to find my office knee deep with cakes and bakes galore! It was so pleasing after difficult times to return to our annual Pride bake sale.

My big hope was to smash the £350 we raised in 2018 and hit £400 to donate to a local charity supporting LGBTQ teenagers. Both lunch times witnessed a feeding sugar frenzy and that was just the teachers!

At the end of the day we had raised £524. An amazing achievement which just reflects the wonderful, diverse community that is Durham Johnston. My sincere thanks to all those creative bakers who made this day possible and equally thanks to all who made a purchase.

Mr Weaver
Assistant Headteacher


PE News

Excellent news from last Saturday as six of our cross-country teams were at Stewart Park, Middlesbrough competing in the regional round of the English Schools Cup. We were the only school in the north-east with all six teams at this round. Any team finishing in the top three places would qualify for the National finals which take place in Newquay on Saturday 4th December. In perfect conditions, we produced some excellent performances with our Junior boys, Senior boys and Senior girls all qualifying for the National finals (one of only two schools in the north-east and North Yorkshire to get three teams through). The best performance came from our Junior Boys who won the event with 4 of our runners in the top 10, giving them the second best score in the country going in to the finals. You can see some action shots and team photos on our Twitter account.

On Monday our Year 10 boys’ football team took on Easington in the county cup. The first half was close and ended 1 – 1. Unfortunately we conceded two second half goals to lose 3 – 1.

Also on Monday, our Year 7 boys’ basketball team played their first game against Emmanuel College. There was never more than 5 points between the teams until the last few minutes when we took control eventually winning 35 – 26.

Our cross-country success continued on Tuesday as we were at Framwellgate School competing in the Area Championship. There are 8 separate races and in an amazing performance Durham Johnston won all of them:

Year 7 boys – 1st (Ben Beale 1st and Area Champion)
Year 7 girls – 1st (Lily Goss 8th)
Junior boys – 1st (Will Jardine 1st and Area Champion)
Junior girls – 1st (Grace Carter 2nd)
Inter boys – 1st (Sam Terry 1st and Area Champion)
Inter girls – 1st (Charlotte Dillon 1st and Area Champion)
Senior boys – 1st (Josh Wraith 1st and Area Champion)
Senior girls – 1st (Emily Chong 1st and Area Champion)

Football continued after school as our Year 8 boys team took on Hummersknott in the county cup. Despite several of the team already having run at the cross-country we were too strong for them, recording a straightforward 7 – 2 victory to reach the next round.

Finally on Tuesday, our Year 7 girls’ 5-a-side team were at Sedgefield competing in the BASFA tournament. We remained unbeaten in our group games to reach the semi-final. Unfortunately we just couldn’t find a goal in this game, losing 1 – 0 to Teesdale.

The football game of the week came on Wednesday as our Year 7 boys took on Hurworth in the National Cup. A close game ended level and with light fading the game went straight to penalties. As the tension increased we held our nerve winning 4 – 3 as their last penalty hit the bar.
It wasn’t quite such good news for our U18 girls’ football team who were also competing in the National Cup. Despite taking a 2 – 0 lead against St Robert’s, we ran out of steam in the second half eventually losing 4 – 2.
Last night 22 of our rowers were meant to be competing in the County Indoor finals at Maiden Castle. Unfortunately a lack of entries from other schools meant the event was cancelled. All of our rowers now qualify for the north-east round in the New Year.

In other rowing news, congratulations to Year 13 students Ellis Black, Lewis Davison and Thomas Crabtree, who won the Durham Autumn Small Boats Head earlier this month, coming in fastest out of over 200 boats.

Finally, you can read our most recent match reports from our Sixth Form Football ambassador here.

Mr Hopper
Subject Leader, PE