5 July 2024

Image of Friday Bulletin

Dear Parents and Carers,

There have been several times in the last week when I have thought back to my own time at school. I have fond memories of playing for school sports teams, and extracurricular drama and English. That involved three school plays, playing football for 4 years, until music and books began to pull me in a different direction, and one creative writing competition. I enjoyed my time at school, got on well with my teachers and across those 5 years just got on with things. There was no real extracurricular offer, transition involved simply turning up on the first day – after being told to walk on the other side of the road by my sister to avoid embarrassing her – and we left with a heartfelt goodbye but no prom, yearbook or shirt signing. All of that was fine by me, as I knew no different.

I am coming to the end of my time as a teacher at Durham Johnston and things have changed enormously and, in the main, for the better. That was evident in last week’s Prom for Year 11, a positive and enjoyable evening for staff and students. That was even more obvious on Wednesday when we amended the usual timetable to offer students the opportunity to try new things. That involved the chance to try:  British Sign Language, drawing for relaxation, geocaching, yoga, karaoke, war hammer, guitar workshops, quizzes and board games, origami, drama, being a roving reporter and raising funds for volunteering. Most of the sessions were led by our teachers, with external volunteers also offering support. Form classes were also celebrating the culture of individual countries competing in the European Championships by decorating their classrooms and researching each country. I struck lucky by visiting our ’Turkish’ team for classes and enjoyed Turkish tea, baklava, and a range of cakes. The students were discussing geography, music, history and how cultures have integrated, and I had a fascinating conversation that involved the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, the Blue Mosque, debate around the origins of the Bouzouki and Boris Johnson’s Turkish heritage.

There were very few musical opportunities when I was at school and that clearly is not the case for the students at Durham Johnston. Last night’s Music for a Summer Evening was fantastic and it was great to see both sixth form students, their families and members of the music department sharing their love of music. Being able to join in with the chorus of Harry Lauder’s ‘Keep Right On’ will remain one of my favourite memories of my time at the school.

We were joined today by 266 Year 6 students who will be joining us in September, and they too have had a good first day, meeting with their form teachers, Mr Simpson, Mrs Anderson, and Mrs Ward. Mrs McFadden also welcomed them to the school, and they also been able to access arrange of different subject taster sessions. It was clear that there is excitement about starting in September, they know the building, have found their way to school and, for those who have been naturally a little worried, we have offered support and kindness. Experiencing new things can be hard and getting to know the building and school staff is vital for successful transition.

I am proud of what we offer at Durham Johnston, and we are always looking for ways to improve further. Thank you to all those staff who have worked hard to create new experiences this week and to our students for being willing to show their talents and to give something new a try.

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: insert link to each Year group overview page. 


Drop Down Day Roving Reporters


Daisy Chain Coffee Morning

Daisy Chain, https://daisychainproject.co.uk/ are leading a second coffee morning in school on Monday 15th July, from 9.30-11.30am. The theme is understanding autistic overwhelm, meltdowns, shutdowns and burnout. You do not need to have a child with a diagnosis of autism to attend; everybody is welcome! If you would like any additional information, please contact me via the school email address.

Miss Davies
SENDCo, Assistant Headteacher


Music Notices

Over the last week we have enjoyed three diverse, but equally entertaining events. On Thursday 27th June the Year 10 band Overslept performed to a very enthusiastic audience of friends, family, and staff in James Hall. Mr O’Sullivan was so impressed that he awarded the Headteacher’s Badge to all four members of the band. Well done to them, and we look forward to hearing more from them in the future.

Friday 28th June saw the 15th Annual Music Festival, with three rounds taking place, adjudicated by Mr Iain Anderson, Head of Music at St Cuthbert’s High School, Newcastle. The quality of performances was outstanding with all the participants gaining valuable experience and receiving some very helpful feedback. Congratulations especially to the three winners, Sandy, Bartosz and Leo.

Last night saw our final event of the year, Music for a Summer Evening, where the departing Year 13 musicians enjoyed a convivial evening, less formal than our usual concerts. This was a chance to thank those who have taken part in extra-curricular music for their contribution to school life, and for sharing their time and talents with us. We hope they continue to enjoy making music as they move on to the next stage of their life.

As the end of the academic year approaches, we look back over a fantastic year of music-making from pupils and staff. For a full report of the year’s activities, please follow this link.

Dates for your Diary 2024-2025

Christmas Concerts - Wednesday 4th & Thursday 5th December 7.00pm

Carol Service - Thursday 19th December 1.00pm

Chamber Choir Evensong - Monday 3rd February 5.30pm

Spring Concerts - Wednesday 2nd & Thursday 3rd April 7.00pm

Music Festival - Thursday 26th June, 6pm, 6.45pm, 7.30pm

Music for a Summer Evening - Thursday 3rd July 7.00pm

Mr Holmes
Subject Leader for Music


PE News

On Monday and Tuesday our U18 cricket team took part in a festival organised by Durham School. We were the only state school invited to attend and it is the first time in many years we have had VIth form playing cricket. Unfortunately, the competition was hit by rain, but we still won our final game against Barnard Castle to finish in 3rd place. Thanks to Joe Twiddy who organised and captained the team.

Also on Monday, our Year 9 cricket team travelled to Bill Quay CC to take on St Joseph's in the quarter-final of the County Cup. We restricted them to 85 runs in their 20 overs. An excellent batting performance from Isaiah Moore and Tom Warbrick saw us reach their total with 8 overs to spare. We now face either Durham School or Whitburn in the semi-final.

On Tuesday morning our U15 boys’ tennis team hosted Durham School in a league decider. This was an excellent match, but they proved too strong for us eventually winning 5 - 1. It was better news for our U13A & B team in the afternoon against Acklam Grange School. Both teams had comfortable 5-1 and 6-0 win respectively. This means that both our U13A & B teams have won their leagues.

We were also due to host the U15 Tyneside tennis championships after school but unfortunately all the other schools withdrew.

On Wednesday morning our Year 10 cricket team travelled to Corbridge CC to play QEHS, Hexham in the semi-final of the Tyneside Cup. We secured a comfortable 5 wicket victory and now face Framwellgate in the final.

Last night, we hosted the final rounders CVL of the season which was for Year 7. Despite very windy conditions the standard was high, and after a very close competition the result came down to rounders difference. We had scored more than both Durham High and Parkview and therefore became Area champions. Our B team finished in 4th place.

Finally, good luck tomorrow to our Junior boys athletics team who have travelled to Stoke to compete in the English Schools national Track & Field finals. This is our 5th national final of the year.

We look forward to welcoming everyone to our 28th Annual Sports Presentation Evening next Wednesday (10th) at Ramside Hall. We have a record turn-out with over 300 tickets sold, so please try to arrive in plenty of time so we can start promptly at 7.15pm. Please note if England win on Saturday night we will start the presentation evening early at 6.15pm to allow us to complete most of the awards before the semi-final kick-off at 8.00pm. The game will then be shown on a screen.

Mr Hopper
Subject Leader for PE