26 January 2024

Image of Friday Bulletin

Dear Parents and Carers,

This week has been bookended by Monday’s well attended Year 9 options evening and our Holocaust Memorial Day assembly reflections for all students this morning. Students are faced with a variety of choices on a daily basis and have to navigate all the complexities of growing up in modern Britain. Making well informed choices, and considering all of the available evidence matters hugely when choosing GCSE subjects. Our attitudes are also informed by that same process when considering others within our community and beyond; don’t rush to conclusions, don’t define people by one aspect of a person’s identity, and try to understand all those with different experiences. Make decisions based upon evidence, not superficial judgements. That is obviously true when having to consider the subjects that we might want to study, and when seeing the person beyond the ‘label’ that some may choose to attach. The 6th Form students that delivered today’s assembly for all of our students made that second point very eloquently this morning and I would encourage you to take some time to watch it. Whilst based upon their visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau last year, it also offers thoughtful comments on the need to engage with each other as humans with lives, families, and hinterlands.

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


Year 11 Study Support

A reminder that as we progress towards Year 11 mock and then summer examinations, there are a number of drop-in sessions available for students to attend, where staff are available for revision and subject-specific support.

Please click here to see the full timetable.


Holocaust Memorial Day Event

As well as marking Holocaust Memorial Day collectively in school, a small group of Year 9s and Sixth Former made the journey to Durham Cathedral this morning to take part in the County Council’s annual commemoration event. Students had the opportunity to listen to a number of speakers, focusing on the theme of ‘Fragility of Freedom’. This year’s keynote speakers were TV personality Robert Rinder MBE, and Bernie Graham. Rob and Bernie were part of the award-winning documentary series My Family, the Holocaust and Me, which helped British Jewish families trace the stories of their family, to understand their experiences of the Holocaust. We heard their personal accounts of how their family members were caught up in the events of the Holocaust, and reflected on the ways in which we can stand up for freedoms ourselves. Our students behaved impeccably, and we were delighted to have been able to take part.

Mr Wright
Deputy Headteacher


Classics News

Latin students in Year 11 and Year 12 enjoyed a taste of university-level Classics this week, attending the Newcastle University Sixth Form Classics Study Day on Wednesday. It was a great opportunity to join students from across the North East to learn more about the topics we study at A-level and to discover some new areas of the subject.

Next week, on Tues 30th Jan, 4pm, there is an opportunity for any interested Sixth Form and Year 11 students to attend a talk by a visiting speaker. This is the first in our series of "Classics and..." talks, which will look at topics that link Classics with other curriculum areas. We are grateful for the support of Classics for All in setting up these talks, which are open to students from other schools. The first talk is:

Where do words come from? Language contact and language change - Dr Krishnan Ram-Prasad, Oxford University.

The talk will be in James Hall and there will be refreshments available.

Mrs Bothwell
Languages Department


World Challenge Update - Fitness Fundraiser

This week the World Challenge students started their first big fitness fundraiser for their 2025 India expedition. The team have 10 days to cover 86km each to complete the distance of the river Ganges from source to mouth by rowing, running or walking. So far, the team have made a great start, and will be continuing to get sponsorship over the final days of the challenge.

Mrs Hardwick

World Challenge Coordinator


Music Notices

Instrumental/Vocal Examinations

We are delighted that so many pupils undertake ABRSM and other graded music examinations, and we understand that these are often scheduled during the school day. If your child needs to leave school for, or arrive late following such an exam, please write a short note in their planner to explain this.  They will need to show this to their form tutor so that this absence can be recorded on the system. This signed note can then be shown at reception as the pupil leaves or returns to school. Please note that a formal leave of absence request is not necessary for a short absence for this particular reason. 

Chamber Choir sing Evensong in Durham Cathedral

Chamber Choir will make their annual visit to sing Evensong in Durham Cathedral on Monday 29th January. Friends and supporters are most warmly invited to attend the service, which begins at 5.30pm and lasts for about 45 minutes - please be seated by 5.20pm. If you are not able to be at the Cathedral you can still listen in via the Cathedral's Facebook livestreamIt is a real privilege for us to sing as a visiting choir for one of the regular services at the Cathedral. We believe that we are still the only comprehensive school choir to do this!

Spring Concerts - Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st March

Rehearsals are well underway for our ‘Water, water everywhere’ themed concerts this term. If your child performs in one of the ensembles taking part please do encourage them to attend rehearsals every week and give their apologies if they need to miss a rehearsal. We aim for high standards of music-making (as well as good fun!) and we need a full team turn-out each week to do this. Details about tickets for these concerts will be released after half-term, but please do put the dates in your diaries now.

Mr Holmes
Subject Leader for Music


PE News

Last Saturday, 12 of our athletes travelled to Edge Hill University, Ormskirk to compete in the Northern Schools biathlon championships. They started on the track with a run, and despite freezing conditions, produced some excellent times. In the afternoon it was the turn of the swim. Times for both events are converted to points to give overall placings, and it was excellent news that all 12 of our students finished in the top 12 places. Congratulations to Wilf Beale who won the event to become Northern Schools champion. This is particularly significant as it is two years since his brother Ben won the same event. Seb Carty also reached the podium, finishing third. We are waiting for confirmation, but it looks likely that our Year 7 boys’ team will reach the national finals in March.

On Monday, our U19 girls’ basketball team played their final group game in the English Schools Cup as we hosted Loreto College, Manchester. We started slowly but soon got going, playing some excellent basketball as we went on to win 89 - 56 with Libby Clark POM. They now finish runners-up in the north of England - a great achievement.

On Wednesday, our U19 football team faced Dame Allan's in the Tyneside Cup. Despite dominating possession and being level with only seconds to go, we conceded a late goal to lose 2-1. Alex Graham scored our goal, and Jake Toase was POM.

Yesterday, our U16 basketball team travelled to Jesmond Park Academy for their final group game in the English Schools Cup. This was a high quality game of basketball which was close throughout the first half. Unfortunately, we ran out of steam in the final quarter, eventually losing by 30 points in a high scoring game. Rafael Neely was POM. They now follow our U19 girls finishing runners-up in the north of England.

Also yesterday, we hosted a Year 9 rugby CVL. After a great afternoon of exciting rugby played in a great spirit, we won all three games to become champions. No POM as every member of the team made a good contribution!

Good luck this afternoon to our Year 7 football team who are taking on Emmanuel College in the Tyneside Cup.

Finally, another reminder that the ski meeting is taking place on Tuesday starting at 6.00pm in James Hall. 

Mr Hopper
Subject Leader for PE


We have also been asked to share the following on behalf of the North East School Age Immunisation Service:

For Year 9 Parents and Carers: Tetanus, Diphtheria & Polio (Td/iPV) & Meningitis ACWY Immunisations

Most children have been immunised against Tetanus, Diphtheria & Polio and Meningitis C as part of the childhood UK schedule. Guidance from NHS England recommends that your child now receives a booster dose of Tetanus, Diphtheria & Polio and Meningitis ACWY. This is due to take place at school on 12 February 2024.

Information regarding these vaccines is available on the website:

MenACWY vaccine - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

3-in-1 teenage booster overview - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

You can also talk to your GP or Practice Nurse or contact the immunisation team using the details below.

Please complete online consent forms within one week of receipt. If you do not wish your child to have the immunisations, please indicate this on the forms. You can find the forms at this link.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact the Immunisation Team on 0333 3583 397 option 3, option 2 or immunisations.countydurham@intrahealth.co.uk