3 December 2021

Dear Parents & Carers,

I would like to publicly thank all of our students for their sensible approach to the changes that we were asked to introduce by the Department for Education at the start of this week. We shared the Government’s strong advice regarding face coverings being worn in communal areas and students have responded very positively. We have also reiterated that some students will not being doing so because of personal choice or medical exemptions and no one has the right to comment on that. We are genuinely hopeful that the measures will be in place for a short period only and will offer an update as quickly as possible if any other changes are advised.  

We have had to make some difficult decisions this week because of that change in emphasis. Perhaps the most difficult has been the need to cancel this year’s Carol Service for Years 7 and 8 at Durham Cathedral, scheduled for 17th December. The Cathedral service is a highlight in the cultural life of the school and we have been attending since 1983. However, drawing together over 900 people from different families to sing on the final day of term poses an obvious risk, and we do not want student and families to be in a position where they may need to self-isolate over the Christmas holiday. We are very fortunate to have so many talented musicians and such a wonderful music department and I would like to thank them for dealing with this disappointing news with such good grace. The Cathedral too have been very understanding. We hope to produce a shorter virtual Carol Service that will be shared with form classes and families in the final week of term, as we did last year. We have decided to continue with Christmas concerts in school on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th December as we had already thought very carefully about social distancing, and feel that there are additional actions that all those attending can take to make the two evenings as safe as possible. More detailed information can be found here:

Christmas Concerts on Thursday 9th  and Friday 10th  December

We have also decided to rearrange a number of events that are based upon the mixing of year groups; all assemblies between now and the end of term will be virtual, and we are carefully monitoring other school systems to make sure that the final weeks of term are as safe as possible. However, the normal business of school carries on at pace with reports being prepared for Years 8 and 9 (to be issued in the New Year), Year 13 students completing UCAS applications, and a wide range of extracurricular activities still taking place. I would also like to thank all parents and carers who completed our recent survey and for those who participated in last night’s Special Educational Needs parent focus group with Miss Davies; it was a very positive meeting.

Whilst this week had necessitated some changes in school, we are also still very excited about Christmas. We take delivery of the school Christmas Tree next week; it is the annual Year 7 and 8 Santa Run for charity on Tuesday, and Christmas lunch is served on Thursday. We have also chosen and printed this year’s winning school Christmas card, which will be shared as part of the final update of the year.

Have a good weekend.

Mr O’Sullivan
 

Access to the School Site: Important Reminders

The Local Authority have contacted the school after concerns from local residents after a series of incidents in which parents have blocked private roads and drives before and after school. We have been asked to inform all parents and carers that tickets are being issued on a daily basis in the local area and parking enforcement action is being prioritised. Please think carefully about where to pick up and drop off your child if they are not travelling by school transport, public transport, cycling or walking.

Please note that the area in front of the school gates is not a designated turning area or a suitable place to drop off your child. We are aware of a number of parents and carers using it as such, which represents a significant safety risk to other road users.

Please also encourage your child to cross at appropriate crossing points and bridges. The local crossing service have raised concerns again about students walking into traffic on the A167 and expecting cars to stop. This is extremely dangerous and could lead to a serious accident. Please talk to your child about the importance of road safety and we will make that message clear at school too.

 

Flu Vaccinations on Thursday 9th December

Flu vaccinations are being offered in school on Thursday 9th December. The last date for parents to consent is 6th December 2021 at midnight. Only those students have who requested a vaccination will come to the hall. Please find attached a letter with information regarding the flu vaccination.

Flu Vaccination December 2021

 

Sixth Form Notices

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

Week beginning 6th December

 

House System News

We are currently collecting in the results of our Christmas Appeal. This year we are working with charities Durham Foodbank, Family Action & Feeding Families to help young carers and families in our local area. Thank you to everybody who has contributed in any way; there will be more on this in next week’s bulletin.

October saw the return of our very popular ‘Spooktacular’ event; thank you to Madeleine Carty in 7SW for the report below!

Miss Forbes
Senior Teacher, the House System

Spooktacular 2021

Did you see Mr Bowman in his costume? I’m not exactly sure who he was meant to be, but he was definitely terrifying. Especially when he beckoned you in mysteriously at the door. And Mr Blake looked great! And Miss Forbes. And all the sixth formers. In fact, everybody at the Spooktacular looked fantastic. There was a whole variety of costumes, from devils to vampires to ghosts, and the masks and face-paint were so realistic. Personally, I thought the Spooktacular was brilliant. As far as I know, everybody thought the same. As soon as you walked through the gates, you could see the main entrance decorated with blood and ghosts and cobwebs. When you walked in, there was even more spookiness to be found and all the corridors were eerily dark, and in a weird way, thrilling. The music boomed from the assembly hall. I have to say, the selfie walls were awesome, especially the giant spider. Soon everyone was dancing to the music and talking (really loudly) to their friends. My highlights of the night included the food. Everybody ate hotdogs or burgers with ketchup, and doughnuts and cookies afterwards. It was delicious! After that was the disco with more music and lights and everyone jumping to it. After that followed the giant game of hide and seek. Every house competed against each other and had a lot of fun. There’s nothing like a bit of lively competition and being scared out of your wits. The scavenger hunt was equally as entertaining. Once again, in house teams, everyone had to find the objects on the list as fast as they could. There were some very odd ones, such as ‘find two people both wearing fake blood’ and ‘tie four people’s shoelaces together’, or something like that. Then followed more music and dancing, and finally, to end an amazing evening, we all played capture the flag. For the teams I played with, the flags, in the end, were both feathers off people’s costumes and were perfect for hiding in tiny cracks and crevices. There was much running, shouting and laughing as the teams darted around, searching for each other’s flags and getting caught over and over again. Nobody wanted the evening to end. It was such an incredible night, and everybody enjoyed the fun, games, food, decorations, dancing, music and costumes. All in all, the Spooktacular this year was an immense success and we all cannot wait for next year!

 

PE News

On Monday our VIth form football team travelled to St John’s for a league game. We dominated the game against a physical St John’s side going on to win 6 – 1 with four goals from Yann McGowan.

On Tuesday afternoon, our Year 7 and 8 boys and girls sports hall athletics teams were at Maiden Castle for the Durham and Chester-le-Street competition. It was an outstanding afternoon for Durham Johnston as all four teams won their event to become Area champions. All four teams now go on to represent Durham City at the County finals after Christmas.

We then went straight from Maiden Castle to Sedgefield for the BASFA Year 8 basketball tournament. We had an A and B team entered and both teams remained unbeaten to win their groups. Our A team played their semi-final first and reached the final with a comfortable 14 – 2 victory. Next our B team played Sedgefield and the game ended in a draw. Two periods of overtime still couldn’t separate the teams so we went to a sudden death free-throw shoot out. Guy Middleton scored the winning basket to make it an all Durham Johnston final.  We then decided to share the trophy rather than play the final.

Finally on Tuesday, our Year 7 & 8 netball teams were at home against Durham High. It ended one match all as our Year 7 team lost their first game of the season 5 – 20, and our Year 8 team won 9 – 1.

On Wednesday our Year 7 boy’s football team took on St Joseph’s in the National Cup. This was an excellent game. We conceded an early goal but then got on top going 2 – 1 ahead. With only seconds to go they scored to take the game to penalties. Unfortunately we missed two of our kicks to lose 5 – 4.

Finally, good luck to our Junior boys, Senior boys and Senior girls’ cross-country teams who are making the 900 mile round trip this weekend to Newquay to compete in the ESAA National finals. We are one of only two schools in the north-east who have three teams competing. Hopefully we can bring news of their success next week.

The PE department have been working hard to re-start our very successful Malaga sports trips and ski-trips which have run annually until Covid restrictions. The Malaga sports trip would be this summer for Year 7 & 8 pupils and the ski-trip would be January 2023 for current Year 7, 8 & 9 students. We are hopefully ready to move forward and confirm booking very early in the New Year. We plan to send more information out next week to enable parents to budget for initial payments in January. Please look out for this and contact the PE department if you have any questions.

Mr Hopper
Subject Leader, PE