15 September 2023

Image of Friday Bulletin

Dear Parents & Carers,

Our assemblies this week have continued to focus upon the importance of communities and the reality of the things that we have in common being much more important than the things that may divide us. I was 13 in October 1984 when Michael Buerk, the experienced BBC journalist, reported on the unfolding famine in Ethiopia. Whilst saddened and moved by the images in that famous news report, I had no real understanding of what had caused the famine and actually had no awareness of where Northern Ethiopia was. The next day at school I sat by a classmate in lessons, Theresa, who was born in Ethiopia and had relatives that were affected. What was distant or confusing to me became much more personal; I knew and liked someone who was directly affected. We are affected by what happens to others in our community. I share that story because two terrible recent events in Derna, Libya and the countryside around Marrakesh in Morocco are not just stark reminders of the fragility of human life; they are also tragedies felt personally by students at our school. Students have recently offered support for those suffering in Ukraine and Turkey and we will discuss what we might do to support those in Morocco and Libya who are currently facing real hardship. Showing that we care matters.

It is always good to complete our first full week back at school. In general terms, students have settled well and are getting into the rhythm of the new school year. Our extracurricular offer – lunchtimes and after school – is up and running. We have updated the website so that parents and carers are aware of what our students can access – please click here to find our current programme. Please encourage your child to get involved and to give things a go. We are likewise updating our subject and curriculum pages so that you know what your child is studying on a termly basis. Please take time to read our curriculum statement so that you know how our teaching is linked to the personal development of each child and underpinned by the school’s ethos.

Our parent information presentations also begin next week, and we would actively encourage as many parents and carers as possible to attend. All parents and carers should have received a letter this week offering key information about the curriculum for each year group, and we will build upon that detail when meeting with parents in the coming weeks.

We are also launching our charitable school lottery this week, so that we can raise additional funds to support our students. The Durham Johnston Private School Fund manages the finances of a variety of educational trips, events and projects and contributes to prizes and awards. Contributions are also made from the fund to assist the school in developing projects within departments such as SEND and Science, which are partially funded by the Local Education Authority.

Everyone reading this update will be aware of the financial pressures on public services and we are doing all that we can to balance the high-quality education that we provide against that economic reality. Please help us by buying a lottery ticket via the information at this link. In addition, if you would like to donate to any key area of school provision, please contact the school. We want students to access as many opportunities as possible and that is increasingly difficult as funding becomes tight and costs rise. Any contribution that you can make as a parent or carer to our charitable trust fund would benefit our community and be gratefully received.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Mr O’Sullivan

What is my child learning?

In the Learning section of our website you can find guidance on what every student at the school is studying. As well as an overview of our curriculum and principles behind it, you can find an overview of each subject area.
You can also find a guide to the content being covered in every subject and how you can support your child for each half term here: 
Year 7 | Year 8 | Year 9 | Year 10 | Year 11 | Year 12 | Year 13


Durham Youth Council Awards

Over the Summer some of our Year 8 (now Year 9) students were nominated for and attended the Durham Youth Council Awards at Beamish Hall. 

Sasha W. was nominated for outstanding individual award for her contributions to our school community. A larger group consisting of Sam D., Iesha T., Will H., Reuben V., Asaph M., Patrick A., and Lewis W. were nominated for a group award. This was after they responded to our year group challenge to raise money for a charity of their choice so positively, raising almost £3000 in less than a month between them. 

We are happy to say that we won both awards! We are very proud of these students and their achievements. Well done to all!

Mr Blake
Year 9 Year Leader


Geography Notices

Photography Competition!

Geography Club Young Geographer of the Year Competition

Geography Club resumed in IT4 after school on Thursday 14th September from 3:00-4:00 for students who were working on their Young Geographer of the Year Competition entry before the summer holidays. There will also be sessions on the 21st and 28th at the same time in the same room. All students entering the competition need to have their completed submission delivered to Miss Milburn by the end of the session on Thursday 28th September. Students will be reminded of the competition entry criteria in the next session. If there are any new students or students who did not come along before the summer holidays that are interested, they are more than welcome to come along and submit their entry by the same deadline. Further information about the competition can be found via this link.



World Challenge Launch 2025
Information for Year 12 and Year 11 students

Every two years the school launches a World Challenge expedition to those students currently in Year 12, and those students who are currently in Year 11 and plan to attend the 6th form at Durham Johnston. The aim of a World Challenge expedition is to complete physical challenges, community projects, charity work and cultural development. Students who wish to take part have two years to raise the funds needed to go on expedition and the next expedition will be taking place in July 2025.  

This summer our expedition team spent 3 weeks in Borneo. They completed a community project living with the Iban tribe in the rainforest, helped with harvest season in the rural areas, contributed to refurbishing parts of a community longhouse and learned about rainforest and orangutan conservation. They also completed physical challenges such as summiting Mount Kinabalu, a 10k kayak through the jungle, white water rafting and various other rainforest treks and cultural experiences. 

The 2025 expedition launch for Year 12 will take place in assembly in the Sixth Form Area on Wednesday 20th September and for Year 11 will take place in assembly on Friday 22nd September. Information on the destination, the virtual parents evening and how to get involved will be outlined in these assemblies.

Mrs Hardwick
School World Challenge Coordinator


Sixth Form Notices

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

Week beginning 18th September


Drama Notices

All extra- curricular drama sessions begin on Monday 18th  September. Please note that all sessions apart from Year 7 and 8 Drama club are open to all. Students are welcome to come and try out the sessions. All sessions take place in the Drama Studio.

Lunchtime Activities:




More info…

Script Club 1 – Year 7 & 8

Monday 18th September


Learn about writing drama scripts!

Script Club 2 – Years 9-11

Monday 18th September


Develop your script writing skills!


After School Activities:




More info…

Technical Theatre Club – Years 7-9

Tuesday 19th September


Learn about the backstage world!

Drama Club - Year 9

Wednesday 20th September


Acting club

Drama Club - Year 7 and 8

Thursday 21st September


Acting club, only for those who have signed up. Students on the waiting list will be informed when a place becomes available 

Ms Ayrey
Subject Leader for Drama


Music Notices

Rehearsals and Lunchtime activities: 

Our weekly schedule of rehearsals and other musical enrichment activities has begun. Please click on the relevant link below for more details about the opportunities available for each year group. 

September Letter (Includes concert dates and details of other musical performances)

Year 7 & 8 activities

Year 9 – 11 activities

Year 12 & 13 activities

Vocal and Instrumental Lessons.

If your child receives music tuition from Durham Music Service, you should have received an email with details of days and timings. The timetables are also displayed in the music department so that your child can check when they arrive in school. 

We have several new starter slots on a range of instruments. If you child might be interested in exploring this, please do encourage them to talk to me in school. 


If your child brings an instrument into school, please ensure that it is clearly labelled with their name and where necessary, that this is insured on house insurance. We have dedicated storage for wind, brass and string instruments, but accidents (albeit very infrequently) do happen on the journey to/ from school and whilst in school. 

Mr Holmes
Subject Leader for Music


PE News

It has been amazing to see so many attending the first full week of extra-curricular activities. We have had around 100 children turning up each night for trials and clubs.

Fixtures actually started last week as we took part in three County Cup cricket finals. We were the only school in the county to qualify for three finals.

Our Year 9 and 10 teams were unlucky to lose close games and finish runners-up. However, our Year 11 team had a comfortable 7 wicket victory over High Tunstall to claim our first County trophy of the year.

The first league football games of the season took place last night as we hosted Staindrop with Year 7, 8 & 10. All three matches ended in straightforward victories for us as our Year 7 team won 6 - 1, our Year 8s won 8 - 0 and the Year 10s won 7 - 0. Players of the match were Levi Gash, Myles Atkinson and Finlay Ferguson respectively.

Mr Hopper
Subject Leader for PE