16 February 2024

Image of Friday Bulletin

Dear Parents and Carers,

It seems like a long time since we returned to school on 3rd January and I thought it would be helpful to offer a summary of what has been a successful half-term, particularly with spring, hopefully, being ever closer. 


We have had a series of successful parents’ evenings and a very well attended Year 9 options evening. Our assemblies have addressed issues linked to growing up in modern Britain, with thoughtful assemblies delivered by a wide number of school staff. Students have referenced, in particular, Mr Wilbraham’s series of assemblies linked to Black History Month – focusing on the first-person experiences of key historical figures – and Miss Forbes’ age-appropriate assemblies for all year groups on how to make good decisions and to stay safe online. We have also had guest speakers lead assemblies, with a particularly moving session delivered on family history, the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 and crimes against humanity by Professor Marek Szablewski from Durham University.


Our Year Leaders have also held regular assemblies, sharing key messages around collective endeavour and reminders about how to stay safe and treat others respectfully. Earlier this week I asked each Year Leader to identify an important success for each year.


Mr Digby shared that: ‘Year 7 have settled into school life brilliantly. They have embraced school life, our extra-curricular offer and have demonstrated that they are an amazing bunch of young individuals. To pick out one specific thing, I would like to refer to their collective efforts in raising money and gifts for the Christmas Fund. That really was an outstanding effort and it warmed the heart to see such generosity in a time of general hardship for so many.’


For Year 8, Mr Briggs explained that: ‘This half-term has been a busy one for Year 8, taking part in House Competitions, representing the school in a multitude of ways and preparing for exciting school trips, even managing to squeeze the odd lesson in between! This has been a very positive half-term and one that will help set the year group up for a successful second half of the school year. Well done, and have a restful half-term break.’

Options have been an important priority for Year 9 and Mr Blake explained that: ‘I think the most positive development in our year group has been how maturely they have approached their options choices. They have thought carefully about what they will pick and asked intelligent and sensible questions before making such important decisions. They deserve real credit and it has been great to see them choosing pathways that will lead them into GCSEs and beyond.’


Mrs Banner has been particularly impressed with how Year 10 have settled into their GCSE study and increased maturity. She feels that the year group are working very positively and are now fully fledged GCSE candidates.

Year 11’s increased work ethic and attendance at intervention sessions has been really positive to see according to Mrs Anderson. She commented that: ‘Students are showing increased effort in lessons, and every Friday I look at the house points leader board and 'hot spots' of house point activity, and I try to visit these lessons to say a quick well done. Many students have matured greatly over the last month or so and this is evident in conversations I have with them and their teachers. Half term should bring rest and recouperation for the year group as well as revision; it is important to look after wellbeing and not burn out.’ That final message is applicable for all of our students and, particularly for exam year groups; they should rest, eat healthily, exercise and remember that time spent with friends and family is as important as studying. Exams are about peaking at the right time, planning effectively and managing a normal level of worry. Taking time out is essential.

Mr Wilbraham has also written to all 6th form parents with a very detailed overview of the year so far and what A Level students need to do next.


During this half-term we have also completed extensive planning and next steps in relation to our key school priorities, with, for example, the school’s reading programme involving many more children via paired reading. We also intend to offer many more personal development opportunities in the spring term and to focus upon resilience and good mental health for all. During this half-term we have also shared our first steps in relation to forming a Multi-Academy Trust, as we are committed to the provision of a high-quality education for students now, whilst also carefully considering the long-term future success of the school.


In a busy half-term, many of these things can be forgotten as, understandably, parents or carers sometimes see the school from our own child’s perspective only. There are always issues to work on, but we are very focused upon improvement and keen that all students take advantage of their time at Durham Johnston. It is important that I share our success and publicly thank staff, students and parents for helping the school to function effectively and to continue providing so many opportunities.


Have a great half-term.


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


Free School Meals


We have written to all members of our community who we believe are eligible for free school meals with an update with regards to our catering offer. A reminder that if you believe your child is eligible for free school meals, please encourage them to take up this offer. Form tutors have been talking to students about this this week. Each day £2.60 is credited to your child's Biometric account after break time. This is done in discreet fashion so that only a balance appears on the screen; there is never mention of free school meal allocation.


Please see here for details of our menu and prices: Catering | Durham Johnston School. The free school meal amount will allow your child to purchase the Meal Deal which includes a traditional meal and dessert of the day at a price of £2.60 for those pupils on FSM. They may also use it to purchase an alternative; if the cost of their purchase exceeds £2.60 you would naturally be expected to pay that difference.


If you are in receipt of a FSM please let us know if we can support you further with regard to provision of uniform, information and advice regarding support, or provision of resources to support homework.



Daisy Chain Coffee Morning

On Monday 22nd April the Learning Support department will be holding a coffee morning between 9.30-11.30, when the Daisy Chain project will be joining us to share information about the work they do. Daisy Chain support young people, families and siblings across the North East who may have a diagnosis of autism, be neurodivergent or are simply seeking support within these areas. If you would like any information about this, please contact Helen Davies, SENCO.


British Biology Olympiad

Congratulations to four of our Year 12 students; Ragesh, Sharvin, George, and Chanel, who recently took part in the British Biology Olympiad competition. During the competition the students were asked challenging and stimulating questions which require a high level of scientific and mathematical knowledge, as well as problem-solving skills. Consequently, students have been awarded certificates which are internationally recognised. Well done to all students on their outstanding achievements. 

Miss Murphy
Biology Lead, Science Department


Careers and Guidance Department Notices

Please click here to view the latest Careers Notices.

Mr Kennedy
Subject Leader, Guidance


PE News

On Monday, our Year 8 football team hosted Whickham in the County Cup. This was a close game throughout. We found ourselves 3-2 behind with 10 minutes to play, but two late goals saw us win 4-3, and progress to the next round. Well done to POM Henry Burns who scored all four goals.

More good news on Monday for our U16 girls’ futsal team. They were at High Tunstall competing in the County finals. They won all their games to become champions, and now qualify for the regional finals in March.

On Tuesday, our U13 girls’, cricket team took part in the area round of the indoor competition at the Beacon of Light. They started with a comfortable 71 - 29 victory over Belmont, and reached their final game against Framwellgate unbeaten. This was the best game of the event. We lost by 19 runs to finish runners-up. Good luck to Framwellgate in the next round.

Our U16 girls’ football team also faced Framwellgate on Tuesday in the county plate competition. This was an entertaining high scoring game. Unfortunately, we were without a regular goalkeeper and ended up losing 4 - 3. Alex Jardine was POM.

On Wednesday morning our U13 and U15 boys and girls handball teams were at Maiden Castle receiving some excellent training from the University team. This was valuable practice in preparation for the County competition which takes place after half-term. Thank you to the Uni team for giving up their time to coach our teams.

Our U16 rugby team were due to be at Durham School for the County Sevens tournament. Unfortunately, this got cancelled due to waterlogged pitches. However, rugby did go ahead at Barnard Castle as our U18 team took part in their Sevens tournament. We were the only school to enter two teams, and both were a credit to the school. Our A team only lost to the hosts to finish 2nd and our B team won one game.

Finally on Wednesday, our U13 girls’ football team took on Kingsmeadow in the County Plate competition. We were 3-1 ahead at half-time and continued to dominate the game, eventually winning 7-2 with POM Emily Robson scoring 6 goals.

Yesterday our Year 7 basketball team hosted Whickham in a friendly match. We proved too strong for them as we won 64 - 21. This was a great team performance, so everyone shared POM. This was excellent preparation for the Junior NBA play-offs in March.

The Year 8 rugby Sevens tournament was another victim of waterlogged pitches as it had to be postponed.

Mr Hopper
Subject Leader for PE