Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope that you have a clear sense of our priorities in 2023-24 from this half-term’s updates. Reviewing them, I have referenced our safeguarding culture, the importance of students being considerate to others within our school community and playing their part by contributing towards a positive learning culture.
It has been a longer than usual half-term, but there are a considerable number of things that we can reflect on positively. I thought that it might be sensible to share some of those things. In terms of transition, Years 7, 10 and 12 have all settled very well. For some that has meant a new and, potentially much bigger, school, for others stepping up to new and higher-level qualifications. If things have gone well, they deserve credit; if things haven’t been easy, there is still time available to learn, improve and to ask for help. Year 11 have been impeccable during their two weeks of mock exams, and now know how the system works and areas in which they need to improve. Their results assembly is scheduled for Friday 17th November 2023, and we will also share information on this year’s Prom and yearbook on that day. Please be aware that the deadline for Sixth Form applications is 5th November 2023. Year 11 form classes will also get the opportunity to visit the Sixth Form area and to speak with Mr Wilbraham in the first week of the new half-term.
Year 13 are getting ready for their mock exams and a substantial number have chosen early entry for UCAS, receiving significant levels of support from the Sixth Form team. Years 11 and 13 have parent consultation evenings and the term one reports will be issued. Year 12 have settling in assessments and their first reports were issued today. Year 9 will be making options decisions soon and Year 8 have settled into their second year at the school.
We have offered more extra and super-curricular events than at this point last year and are thinking carefully about how we can extend our offer so that more children participate and have opened the school for new acting and musical opportunities. There will always be things that we can do differently, but we are proud of the wide-ranging activities that we offer, and the fact that all those running and organising after school clubs and events are giving their personal time freely to support our young people. Similarly, we have had successful language trips, guest speakers and other super-curricular events in school.
We have thought very carefully about assemblies this term too, with detailed information shared on how to stay safe, how to access opportunities and how to be kind and thoughtful in modern Britain. These are important themes, and we encourage students to think and be the best. This was exemplified very effectively in a Year 13 assembly linked, very broadly, to Black History Month. We will share similar themes in other assemblies and tutor time from November onwards.
By other external measures it has also been a highly successful half-term too. Attendance is strong and higher than at the equivalent point last year, last year’s GCSE and A Level results are either above or well above national averages and students have returned to school wanting to learn and work hard. New staff and post-holders have also settled into the school year very promisingly and we are looking forward to the next half-term which, amongst many other planned opportunities, finishes with our Christmas concerts and carol service at Durham Cathedral for Years 7- 10 and 12-13, with a detailed careers carousel and ‘Sixth Form privileges’ session planned for Year 11.
Thank you for your ongoing support and have a restful half-term break.
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
These will be updated soon for November-December.
Top of the Bench Competition
On Friday 20th October, 20 pupils from Years 9, 10 and 11 fought it out in the Top of the Bench school heat to be part of the team to represent the school in the regional Top of the Bench Chemistry Competition. Congratulations to Hari, Damilola, Kelly and Dunya who will represent DJCS!
Acting Subject Leader for Chemistry
Are you in Year 9?
Do you like programming?
Do you like Minecraft?
Have you ever wanted to run around the world spawning lava behind you wherever you go?
If you answered yes to all of these oddly specific questions, then Year 9 programming club is for you!
First session: Wednesday 8th November 14:45 - 15:45 in IT2
Details are below, if you have any questions just let me know!
Lead Teacher for Computing
Sixth Form Super-Curricular Programme
On Tuesday, a number of Year 13 students gave up their time after school to be part of a focus group for a Newcastle University project. This two year 'Bridging the Gap' project is aimed at supporting students in their essay writing skills and transition to university. Our students tested out some newly commissioned resources to develop the writing and proof-reading skills needed for their EPQs. We are lucky to be one of only three schools taking part, especially as the project has been shortlisted for a Times Higher Education Award.
This week, Mr Wilbraham and I visited Borderline Books, a charity in Gateshead that provides reading materials to schools, community groups and prisons. They supplied us with over 100 books to support our sixth formers in their super-curricular reading and reading for pleasure. We look forward to working with them again in the future, including the potential for volunteering opportunities. The lending library will be open to sixth formers after the half term break and we will soon be communicating more ways in which books can be donated and bought.
Deputy Head of Sixth Form
On Monday, our Year 10 football team were due to play Whitburn in the County Cup. Unfortunately, they conceded the game, but we progress to the next round.
Football matches did however take place on Tuesday as our Year 7, 8 & 9 teams travelled to King James for league games. Our Year 7 team played some excellent football on a tricky pitch and remain unbeaten after an 8-1 win. Reid Stewart was POM. It was a similar story in the Year 8 game as we dominated possession winning 9-0. Josh Smith was POM with 2 goals. Our Year 9 team completed the clean sweep with a 9-3 win. Zack Smith scored 6 goals and was POM.
Last night, our Year 8 & 10 football teams were due to travel to Harton in the County Cup. They conceded the Year 8 game. However, the Year 10 game did go ahead and was an excellent match. Despite being 2-0 behind after 10 minutes, we fought back to level at 4-4. A penalty shoot-out was needed and unfortunately, we lost that. Harry C was POM.
Also, last night our Year 10 girls’ footballers were due to be at Lord Lawson for a 6-a-side competition. Unfortunately, it was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
Netball matches however did go ahead as we hosted Hermitage. Our Year 8 team won 11-8 with Ella Stockdale POM, but, most of our Year 7 team were unavailable due to the Spooktacular. This meant we had some new players who stepped up and impressed. However, we lost the match 12-1 with Finja Weinzierl POM.
Finally last night, several of our Year 7 students enjoyed an excellent taster session in the sport of Fives. Fives is a game that is fast, fun and great for fitness. It is played in a four-sided court. Players – using leather gloves – aim to hit the ball above the bar running across the front wall, so that the opposition cannot return it before the second bounce. Thank you to Durham Fives Club for arranging the session. If anyone is interested, the club are running another taster session during half-term on Thursday 2nd November 5.30pm - 7.00pm. Please contact the club if you want more details.
Subject Leader for PE