15 December 2023

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Dear Parents & Carers,

The build up to Christmas is always an enjoyable time in school and with each day this week that has been increasingly evident. The Christmas tree has pride of place near to our reception area and Christmas lunches were served yesterday with 6th form students wearing Christmas jumpers and Year 7 and 8 opting for festive hats. Last week’s Christmas concerts were a great success, and our orchestra, ensembles and choirs are preparing for the visit to Durham Cathedral, as are those given the honour of completing a reading in one of the world’s finest buildings. We have also held assemblies and rehearsals for the annual Christmas Carol Service, which takes place on Tuesday 19th December. Concluding the year at Durham Cathedral is a special part of being a student at Durham Johnston and I have received a number of emails from former students this week asking if they can attend and bring their families. That highlights how memorable the experience is for large numbers of our students. Regardless of faith, our final day of term represents a wonderful cultural opportunity.

We also encourage our students to think about how they can support others in the run up to Christmas, and to give something back to the wider community. They have once again done a magnificent job via the House System’s annual appeal. Our students deserve real credit, as this year we have been able to support a number of local charities. These have included Durham and Chester-Le-Street Foodbanks, Feeding Families, St Cuthbert’s Hospice, Children in Need and the Toy Appeal for Young Carers in County Durham. We have also worked towards supporting families linked to our school community with Christmas hampers. Anyone visiting the school recently will have seen the volume of food and presents collected by our students so that others can enjoy the Christmas period. Our 6th form students are also volunteering at the local foodbanks in January to continue that support into the new year.

That charitable spirit was also evident yesterday when over 500 Year 7 and 8 students raised money for St. Cuthbert’s Hospice by completing the annual Festive Fun Run. Erin from St. Cuthbert’s spoke passionately about the work that the hospice does and thanked our students for their generosity. This year also saw staff competing for different houses and the much-anticipated race proved to be very one sided with Mr Simpson comfortably winning. Some unnamed staff members talked the talk, but quite literally ended up having to walk the walk. There’s always next year!

We have some staff members leaving us this term. Mr Egan leaves us for his first full teaching post and has been with us for 5 years. Mr Burnley has been a science technician at the school for 46 years, our longest serving staff member by a comfortable distance. A former student at the school, he was unsure what to do after leaving and sought advice from Mr Bagley, the Headteacher at that time. He offered Mr Burnley a short-term post as a technician whilst he decided what he wanted to do next. 46 years later he is leaving the school after dedicated service. I would like to wish both Mr Burnley and Mr Egan all the best for the future.

Each year we hold a competition to design the school’s Christmas Card and it is lovely to be able to share this year’s winning entry, which is entitled ‘Our Little Postman,’ a robin paper sculpture by Isla MacAllister, with the digital background supplied by Jessica Chan. I would like to congratulate and thank Isla and Jessica for their fantastic design.

I would like to wish all those associated with Durham Johnston a Merry Christmas. Have a peaceful break with those that you care for and about.

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


Arkwright Engineering Scholarship

I applied for the Arkwright Engineering Scholarship whilst I was in Year 11 at Durham Johnston. I have always had a keen interest in engineering subjects so this Scholarship and the opportunities it offers really appealed to me. The application process consisted of three parts. First, I completed an application form which gave me the opportunity to outline an engineering project I had taken. Next, candidates sat a written exam in school. Both my application and exam were successful, and I was selected for an interview. I was then notified that I had been awarded the Arkwright Engineering Scholarship and invited to the London Awards ceremony in October. I would encourage anyone with an interest in engineering to apply for this amazing opportunity. I have access to events for Arkwright scholars, including work experience and exclusive events at universities. Arkwright scholars also receive a financial award to support your engineering studies.

Henry Pearce
Year 12 Student


Royal Society of Chemistry Top of The Bench competition

On Wednesday 29th November, four students, Hari (Year 11), Dami (Year 10),  Kelly (Year 9) and Dunya (Year 9), travelled to Teesside University to represent Durham Johnston in the Top of The Bench competition regional heat. Top of The Bench is a national competition organised annually by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The team had already competed in the school heat earlier in the term, and had beaten over 20 other DJCS students to take their place in the regional event. 

After 5 gruelling rounds, where they were tested on many aspects of their Chemistry knowledge and aptitude, the team came third, losing out to the winners Yarm School by 16 points out of 250! They were the highest placed state school in the region.

Here is the team in action during round 5 analysing data from multiple experiments:


Mrs Gibb
Subject Lead for Chemistry


Careers and Guidance Department Notices

Please click here to view the latest Careers Bulletin.

Mr Kennedy
Subject Leader, Guidance


PE News

Can I start this week by congratulating our U16 boys table tennis team who two weeks ago travelled to Hurworth School, Darlington to compete in the County finals? We faced Polam Hall in the final and won to become County Champions. They now travel to Bradford on Saturday 3rd February for the north-east finals. Well done to Max Hancock, Sam Dale, Jude Warner and Nikolay Kirillov. All our other teams finished runners-up in the county.

On Monday, our Year 9 basketball team were at St Cuthbert's for the Tyneside Schools tournament. We started with an exciting 1 point victory over RGS. Our final game was against the hosts and despite taking an early lead we eventually finished runners-up after losing by 10 points.

A busy Tuesday saw us competing in rugby, basketball, netball and badminton. Our Year 8 girls’ basketball team were due to take part in the BASFA tournament. Unfortunately, several schools dropped out, meaning it was a straight final against Parkside. This was a one-sided game which we won 74 - 2 to become champions.

It was a similar story with the Area U16 girls’ badminton finals. Several schools also withdrew, leaving a final against Framwellgate. Again, we won to become Area Champions, and progress to the County finals in the New Year.

Our Year 9 & 10 netball teams made the short journey to DCSF for league matches. Our Year 9 team won 20-13 with Harriet Howe POM. Our Year 10 team lost 25 - 8 with Sarah Law POM.

Finally, our Year 8 boys’ rugby team were at Parkview for a mini-tournament. Despite the very muddy conditions this was an excellent afternoon of rugby. We beat the hosts before losing a close game to Boldon. Harry Stephenson was POM.

On Wednesday, it was the turn of our Year 11 basketball team to be in Tyneside Schools action at Emmanuel College. They remained unbeaten, including a close 3 point victory over Kings Priory to win the tournament. They now face QEHS in the final after Christmas.

Also on Wednesday, our U15 girls’ football team were at High Tunstall for a friendly match. We played some excellent football but lost 7-2 in a match played in a great spirit.

On Wednesday morning, 24 of our students completed their first steps towards rugby refereeing. They completed an RFU course which was funded by DCRFU.

Yesterday, it was the turn of our Year 7 & 8 netball teams to face DCSF - this time at home. Our Year 7 team lost 18 - 4 with Elizabeth Chaney as POM. It was better news for our Year 8's who won 23 - 18 to remain unbeaten this season with Grace Clark POM.

Also yesterday, our Year 10 rugby team were at Parkview for a tournament. The standard was high, but we won all of our games comfortably by over 20 points to become champions.

To complete the evening, our Year 7 girls’ futsal team were at Bishop Barrington for the Area tournament. We dominated all the matches, scoring 18 goals and only conceding 1 to become Bishop Auckland Schools champions.

During period 5 yesterday it was amazing to see over 200 Year 7 & 8 students dressed in festive clothing completing our annual festive fun run in aid of St Cuthbert's and other local charities. Despite the mud, everyone had a great time raising money! Congratulations to Henry Engelhart who finished first.

Mr Hopper
Subject Leader for PE