"A great education in a great comprehensive school."

From its foundation in 1901, Durham Johnston has always had a very distinct ethos. The school motto first featured as part of the school badge in 1926 and we have always encouraged students to ‘dare to be wise’.

We have 5 core values that accurately reflect the school’s ethos. They are: 

  1. Academic Excellence; a belief in progress for all. 
  2. Acquiring Knowledge; the importance of being an educated person and knowing things.  
  3. Social Justice; providing opportunities for all, regardless of background. 
  4. Public Service; the importance of making a contribution to the school community and wider society. 
  5. Diverse Opportunities; a rounded education that ‘opens doors’ regardless of location or specialism.  

We want all students to make progress, regardless of their background or ability. We think that it is important to know things and to develop excellent subject knowledge during the time they are with us. We want students to work well with others, to try new things without fear of making mistakes and to value and enjoy learning. 

We recognise that students come from a range of backgrounds, but as a comprehensive school we want to emphasise that it is not where you are from that matters, but what you do and what you can achieve.

We believe that all students should understand the society in which they are growing up and that they should make a contribution for the public good. They are individuals, but have a role to play in helping and supporting others within society. We also seek to prepare students for the opportunities of the future, wherever or whatever those opportunities might be.

As public servants, we will seek to be trustworthy, wise, kind, optimistic and fair when working with other members of the school community. We regard students as individuals, with distinct needs but equal in the opportunities that we provide and offer. We are proud of the academic and extra-curricular achievements of our students and determined to help them to fulfil their potential in their time at the school. We also want them to have a rounded education so as to prepare them for a rapidly changing society and life in modern Britain. 

Our ethos and values are rooted in our past, but prepare our students for the future. As you can see from the comments from previous headteachers below, Durham Johnston Comprehensive School has a long and proud history of valuing not just the academic success of our students, but also the virtues that enable them to become well-rounded adults of the future.

 …high scores and successes are important because they show evidence of industry and progress, but we do not forget other important features, not as easy to measure or tabulate, which are nevertheless of vital importance to the formation of character and personality. The health of the students is good…and school societies, sports clubs, the musical society and orchestra are all in very satisfactory condition.”

Mr Whalley, Durham Johnston’s first Headteacher, Durham Advertiser 18th December 1908

‘What the future holds no one can exactly say… (but the students at Durham Johnston)….will continue to find here both knowledge and experience and skill of mind and hand and muscle; they will take to heart the school’s motto and courageously seek for wisdom, and the world will be a better place because of their presence in it and their abiding faith in the high standards of work and conduct which the school has ever striven to uphold.’


Mr Storey, Durham Johnston’s third Headteacher 1934-51, speaking at the annual prize giving ceremony in 1947

 ‘We have a great staff team of dedicated public servants and a world-class teaching force.  We’ll pursue academic excellence to open all the doors in the world for our young people. We’ll work to offer the best education so that all our young people can make their way in the world.  We’ll learn from our partners and prepare all of our children for a global future.’

Carolyn Roberts, Durham Johnston’s eighth Headteacher 2005-14, speaking at the 2010 Cabinet Meeting held at Durham Johnston

The first teachers at Durham Johnston took up their posts in 1901 and the first 13 students started their education in that year too. I hope that they would recognise and support our current ethos and values. In a similar way, the more we understand about the school’s history and the principles underlying its foundation, the easier it will be to retain a clear sense of what the school stands for and is what it is trying to achieve for the good of all those associated with the school. 

‘Your name has been called out but doing well in your academic work is a team effort – you, your parents and carers, your teachers and indeed all the staff of the school and the governors. They have all played a part in your success. By helping and supporting you, they provide you with opportunities for success (and to) make the most of your talents: finding your talent, working at improving it and using it. And Durham Johnston is the best school I know where you can do this. There is such a wide range of opportunities here: so much opportunity to achieve success at work, in sport, the arts, community projects and other activities. So much opportunity not only to learn and do well, but to contribute to the community and help your fellow citizens. And Durham Johnston is a great preparation for life too – not just in helping you to get good qualifications, but in helping you to learn to get on with people from all walks of life. A great education in a great comprehensive school.’

John Dunford, Durham Johnston’s sixth Headteacher 1982-96, speaking at the 2018 Celebrations Evening