5 January 2024

Image of Friday Bulletin

Dear Parents & Carers,

I would like to wish all those associated with the school a Happy New Year and to welcome back regular readers of the Friday Bulletin. This is always the half-term in which students and school staff arrive and leave in the dark, but also one that offers a renewed focus and the opportunity to make positive resolutions to work harder, be more organised and help others. Like all other school terms, it has a unique character for each individual year group.

Year 7 are now familiar with the building, have developed friendships and know what is needed to be successful. They have ‘settled in’ and now need to deepen their understanding of each individual subject. They also understand what is expected within our community and the important of being kind and making a positive contribution. That is also true of Year 8, who are now reaching the mid-way point of their Key Stage Three study and need to start thinking about their next steps; they are one year away from choosing their Options and those 12 months will pass quickly. That has certainly been the case for Year 9, who will have their Options Evening in January and their parents’ evening in February. They will be well supported through the process of choosing their GCSE subjects and should ask as many questions as possible so that they are confident in the choices that they make.

Year 10 are one full term into their GCSE studies and, as ever, I would emphasise that they are only one term into a two-year course and won’t be completing external exams until May 2025. In a similar way to Year 12 students, they sometimes get frustrated if they aren’t achieving the highest grades immediately. Doing well matters, but making mistakes is normal as they start to grasp the demands of higher study. That was certainly true for Year 11 students a year ago. Year 11 will be starting to finish course content in this term for many subjects and will start the process of revision. They have a second set of mock examinations in March and the majority have a good understanding of their next steps for post-16 study or work. The key message for Year 11 is to work hard and to keep things in proportion; there is still considerable time to improve, seek support and to understand the demands of each individual exam paper. We have been impressed with how they approached their first term, and it was excellent to hear how much they got from the careers interviews that took place on the last day of term in December.

Year 12 have had their first ‘mini-mocks’ and have made that initially daunting step up to A Level study. This half-term is important as they have a parent consultation evening and will identify whether they intend to continue with 3 or 4 A Levels, which might lead to AS examinations in the summer. Even though it seems quite distant, they should also start to consider their plans for study, work, or an apprenticeship at 18 too. Those decisions have now been made by our Year 13 students, the majority of whom have completed the UCAS process and are preparing for mock exams in February. They need to continue working hard, to ask for additional support as needed and I would encourage them to go into their final period in school with ambition and confidence.

For all year groups full attendance, if possible, is vital and I would encourage you to contact the school if you are worried about your child’s attendance and need support. There is nothing more important than being in lessons regularly, as subject specific learning, by its very nature, is often sequential and based upon accumulating and then linking knowledge and concepts together.

I referenced dark mornings and nights at the start of this update, and that makes good road safety all the more important. Please encourage your child to be extremely careful on the A167; it is a busy and potentially dangerous road. If they cycle to school, make sure that they wear a helmet and are careful of cars leaving drives in the morning. If they travel by service bus as opposed to school transport, they should cross the A167 using the bridges and zebra crossings that are easily accessible near to the school. Running or walking into the road with the expectation that cars will stop for them is both dangerous and extremely foolish, and we have had that direct conversation with a number of students this week. Please have that conversation at home to ensure that your child is safe. We have been fortunate in my time at the school to have had very few accidents, but sensible behaviour near to the A167 is important if students are to stay safe during the winter months.

Finally, I would like to thank all those that made our last day of term in December so successful. The Cathedral service was wonderful, and I would like to publicly acknowledge the dedication and excellence of our Music Department and all the students who participated. I would also like to thank the Dean of Durham, Revd Canon Dr Philip Plyming, for making us feel so welcome and for thinking so carefully about his message for our students. A number of people also gave their time freely to arrange careers interviews for our Year 11 students on the final day of term and I would like to also acknowledge how much their efforts were appreciated.

Thank you for your ongoing support and kind messages in the run up to Christmas and I hope that 2024 is a positive year for all those reading this week’s update.

Have a good weekend.

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

These have been updated for the half term ahead.


Sixth Form Notices

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

Week beginning 8th January


Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Update

Please click here to view the latest update.

You can find out more about DofE@DJCS at this link.


Music Notices

Music Enrichment Programme

The full programme of ensemble rehearsals and lunchtime activities resumes next week. If you child is interested in joining one of our ensembles/ activities, please do ask them to talk to a music teacher or just come along at the times below. 






Keyboard Club – MU2 

(staff meeting) 


Aural Skills – MU3 



Chamber Choir – MU2 

Junior Orchestra - MU1 

Wind Band - Hall 


GCSE Support – MU3 



Theory Club – MU2 

Junior Choir - MU1 

Senior Choir - Hall 


(no activities) 



(no activities) 

Senior Orchestra - Hall 


Theory Club – MU2 



Aural Skills – MU3 

Big Band – MU2 


(no activities) 

Lessons with Durham Music Service

If your child is in year 7 and receives tuition from Durham Music Service you will be aware from information shared in the transition pack that lessons for the first term at Durham Johnston School receive a higher level of subsidy. The means that the charge for lessons this term will rise to £76.65. However, the charge for instrumental hire remains the same at £37.00. 

Music performances this term

Chamber Choir Evensong 

Monday 29th January 
Durham Cathedral, 5.30pm 

Chamber Choir will sing the service of Evensong in Durham Cathedral. All welcome to attend. Please be seated by 5.15pm. The service lasts about 45 minutes. 

‘WATER OF LIFE’ (School Spring Concerts) 

Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st March
James Hall, 7.00pm 

All school performing groups will take part in one of these concerts.

Mr Holmes
Subject Leader for Music