15 March 2024

Image of Friday Bulletin

Dear Parents and Carers,


It is often said that the truest test of character is to be found in adversity. I regularly receive flyers, emails, and offers to attend courses that reference how to build character and resilience in young people and children. An hour in the company of some of our Young Carers in schools would dissuade anyone of the notion that young people aren’t resilient, and in reality, I am also grateful that the majority of our students live in a democratic and peaceful country were the challenges that we face are not as serious as for those children living through famine and war. However, coping with difficult and worrying situations can and does make people stronger.

I share the above because a small number of our students demonstrated great resilience this week, as did our teachers. They had qualified for a national engineering STEM Formula 1 competition after great success in the regional round and travelled, enthusiastically, for the national final in Rotherham on Tuesday afternoon. They were accompanied by Mr Kennedy and Mrs Walker and were staying overnight before the competition on Wednesday morning, with the hope of doing well against the other qualifying schools and 500 other successful finalists.

Unfortunately, they woke up to terrible news. The school minibus had been stolen from the secure hotel carpark, along with their pit display work for the competition and a number of personal items. The group had worked solidly for weeks to produce their display – a key component of the competition – and everything was gone.

After contacting the school, the police and ensuring that all parents were aware, the group had to decide; wait for the school to arrange transport back to Durham or continue with the competition, without their pit display materials that were essential. Impressively, they chose to carry on and, as their sign demonstrates, did what they could given the circumstances. On becoming aware of the situation, a team sponsor stepped in quickly, reprinted all of the display materials and transported them to Rotherham, which allowed the team to participate more fully on Thursday. That level of support is phenomenal, and I would like to publicly say thank you for showing such commitment to the students and their hard work.

They gave a very impressive account of themselves in the competition and, whilst not winning, received the Judges’ Award for dealing with such a horrible situation so stoically. They are now back in school and, from talking with them, their teachers and some of their parents, a potentially awful experience has actually proven to be a positive one. Their character was tested, and they came through that difficult challenge with support from others in our community. Or in their own words, their minibus was stolen but their team spirit arrived.

On a separate note, any help in locating the school’s minibus would be greatly appreciated. The odds are against us and, unfortunately, a replacement will potentially take a long time to arrive, impacting on other students and competitions. However, the lesson from this week is that good things can come from challenging circumstances.

Have a good weekend and help find Durham Johnston’s minibus!

Mr O’Sullivan

Parental Focus Groups

Thank you to all those who have already signed up to the focus groups as advertised in last week’s bulletin. A reminder of the details can be found here.

As interest has grown over the week, we are extending the deadline to Tuesday 19th March: please use this link to sign up.


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 Parental Information Presentation

A reminder that we are hosting a final in-person parental information session for the parents and carers of Year 11 students on Tuesday 19th March from 4.15pm to 5.00pm.

Mr Wright
Deputy Headteacher


Vex Robotics 2024

Last weekend our Key Stage 3 Vex Robotics team travelled to Telford to complete in the two-day Vex Robotics IQ National Finals. They did fantastically well to finish 5th out of 60 teams! In a competitive field with very few comprehensive schools, there were also selected as AMAZE award winners 2024 for their fantastic performance. Congratulations to Adam, Afonso, Aiden, Asaph, Leonardo, Masha, and Mikkel! Thanks also to Mr Glover and Ms McDonough for giving up their weekend to accompany the students.

F1 In Schools

Our Year 10 F1 in Schools team were competing in the National Finals of F1 in schools over two days this week. As Mr O’Sullivan has referenced, the team started the day with the most horrendous luck when their mini bus was stolen from outside their  hotel room, with all of their competition materials inside. They were wished well by all competitors and judges – including former England left back Stuart ' Psycho'  Pearce – in the face of such adversity. Thanks to their sponsors, they were able to get their presentation stands reprinted and delivered. They did very well just to compete, and gave a fantastic presentation of their F1 car to the judges. They finished 13th out of 32 teams for fastest car, with overall finishing places to be confirmed over next few days. Their dedication and resilience to compete was  one of the reason they were awarded the 'F1 in Schools Judges Award 2024'. Congratulations to Bea, Ben, Daniel, Jessica, and Leo!

Thank you to Mr Glover for running the club this year, and to Mr Kennedy and Mrs Walker for taking the students to the finals.

Mr Corkin
Subject Leader for Design Technology


House System News

As part of our student voice initiative students were asked which charities they would like to support. They were then invited to vote on the charity they wanted to see the donation go to. We collected 521 responses in the poll. Initially we were supporting two charities, but as you can see, two were tied! Using funds from our non-uniform days we can now support all three; UNICEF, RSPCA, BHF

Each charity will receive a cheque for £300 from DJCS to support their endeavours! Three truly worthwhile organisations - thanks to all for their support and donations. 

Miss Forbes
Senior Teacher, the House System


Drama Performance
The KS3 Drama Performance takes place on Tuesday 26th March at 6pm. Tickets are £1 on door.


Music Notices

Junior Choir - change of date confirmation. 

The change of date of the joint performance of the Cantata 'Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo' in the Gala Theatre to Saturday 4th May has now been confirmed. All pupils involved have been issued with a yellow letter. Please could reply slips from this letter be returned to Mrs Wiggers as soon as possible. Details of ticket sales will be made available in the near future. 

The Spring Concerts are next week!

Details of final rehearsals and concerts are below:

Final Rehearsals

Monday 18th March - 14.45 - 16.00:

Rehearsal for Wednesday 20th (Concert 1). All members of Wind Band, Junior Orchestra, Big Band and Junior Choir must attend this please.

Tuesday 19th March - 14.45 - 16.00:

Rehearsal for Thursday 21st (Concert 2). All members of Senior Choir, Chamber Choir and Senior Orchestra must attend this please.


Wednesday 20th March – 19.00-20.15:

Concert 1 – James Hall. This concert will include performances by Wind Band, Junior Orchestra, Big Band, Junior Choir & Soloists. Please could pupils be here by 18.40, in school uniform.

Thursday 21st March – 19.00-20.15:

Concert 2 – James Hall. This concert will include performances by Senior Choir, Chamber Choir, Senior Orchestra & Soloists. Please could pupils be here by 18.40, in school uniform.

Concert Tickets

A limited number of tickets are still available from the Music Department. They are £4 (Concessions £2). Payment in cash, or cheque payable to 'Durham Johnston School'.

Mr Holmes
Subject Leader for Music


PE News

I start this week by congratulating the 60 Year 8&9 students who had such an amazing time skiing in Italy last week. They all made such excellent progress and were a credit to the school both on and off the slopes. It is the turn of the Year 10s next week to experience the Italian snow and make lifelong memories. Mrs Hopper and the other staff will look forward to meeting them at 4.30am tomorrow morning at Newcastle airport.

Last weekend we had amazing news about Year 9 Ben Beale. Ben competed at the Edinburgh International Swim Meet and achieved an incredible time for the 200-metre butterfly. Not only is he now the fastest in his age group in Britain by 7 seconds, but he has qualified to compete in the British Championships in London in April, which is the selection event for the Paris Olympics. This is a huge achievement at his age. Good luck Ben!

On Tuesday we had three football matches. Our Year 8 boys’ team progressed to the semi-final of the County Cup after an 8-1 win over Mortimer. POM was Finn Rutherford with four goals. There was a great, battling performance from the Year 9 boys’ team vs St Joseph's in the County Cup. Half time saw the teams level at 2-2 but we just ran out of steam, losing 4-2 in the final few minutes. POM was Joe Shields. Finally, a fantastic performance from our U14 girls in the County Cup plate competition against St Leonard’s School. The girls battled well to the end, but the final score was 7-3 to St Leonard’s. POM Emily Robson with amazing assists from Naomi Llewellin.

Also on Tuesday, our U15 girls’ indoor cricket team were at the Beacon of Light for the County Finals. We won two matches and lost one to the eventual winners Barnard Castle. An excellent achievement to finish runners up and the best state school in the county.

On Wednesday, our U16 girls’ futsal team finished fourth in the County Schools Final at the Beacon of Light. The team narrowly missed out on third after a very close game against Easington. Well done to all girls. POT was Lucy Wells with five goals.

Also on Wednesday, our U19 netball team took part in Durham Schools tournament. We won all matches, including a 31-9 win v Durham School and a 20-19 victory against Durham High. This served as a great warmup for our national finals weekend. The girls are travelling down to Peterborough today in preparation for the national finals at Oundle School on Saturday. Good luck!

Our Year 7 and 8 girls’ futsal teams were also at the Beacon of Light on Thursday. Our Year 8s finished 3rd after an excellent 8-6 victory in their final game. Erica Henderson was POT. Our Year 7 team won their first game and progressed to the finals against St Joseph's. It was 2-2 with 10 minutes left but we ran out of steam losing 6-2. A great performance by the whole team.

Also yesterday, our boys’ cross country teams were at Emmanuel College for the Tyneside Championships. It was an excellent morning as our Junior and Inter teams both won to become champions. Our senior team were third, making us the best school again this year. Good luck to several of our runners who on Saturday are competing in the English Schools National Finals.

To complete a busy day, our Year 10 football team took on Parkside. We won 6-0 with goals from Jim Twiddy, Riley Wilmshurst and three from POM James Ormerod. The team remain unbeaten and top of the league.

Mr Hopper
Subject Leader for PE