Update on School Return

This is the latest update, as promised.

This FAQ document from the council was given to us yesterday but I decided to keep it for today when other information was coming to you. FAQs – Parents back to school (20 8 5) (002)

Many thanks to all the parents and carers, staff and local councilor who attended the video meets this week. You can view the presentation here. (Click ‘present’ at the top right hand side when the slides open so you can view the presentation and then you are able to click on the treehouses for more information.)

Catering: a reminder that it will be ‘grab and go’ style packed lunches for the first wee while. Any who have existing dietary requirements that we know of will continue to be catered for – confirmed with Catering Manager. Online dietary request forms and medical forms will be shared on the blog on Monday. Normally we would ask for a signature but if you are in agreement, if an attachment comes using your email address we will take that as a signature in the short term. Please come to the office with your own pen and sign at your convenience but before the end of August.

A reminder that all Smithton children and young people should be in attendance at school from Wednesday 12th August 8.30am or 12 noon start for nursery (ELC) or 9am start for the school. (For those parents who have told us why their children will be absent on Wednesday already, don’t worry – we’ve taken note of your child’s absence.)There will be P7s, as usual for the start of a new year, with signs showing where classes should line up. There will also be non teaching staff available in the playground and at school gates to help you.

Monday 10th August 9.30 – 3.30: last call for any clothes left from last term or work still to be collected can be picked up from the foyer. All will go to second hand shop unless we hear from anyone that can’t make it between those hours.

Have a good weekend, everyone and continue to keep safe and vigilant. See you next week!

Aileen Mackay, HT


Return to School Update

It was fairly unanimous in June when I asked if people wanted a phased return to school or straight back in on the 12th so we expect all children to be at school 12th August. However, the Scottish Government has agreed that phased return is permissible so if there are individual families who would rather have a phased return I ask you to email me directly and to put your proposal to me as soon as possible. 18th August all are expected to be back to full time. As the school has plenty of outdoor space and various gate entries to the school there is no need for staggered start or finish times.

Fiona Devlin, Chair of Parent Council and I will be discussing a few issues on Wednesday morning and then she will speak with the rest of the Parent Council during the day. I aim to have video meets available to all parents and carers Wednesday evening and repeated Thursday during the day:

Wednesday 6pm        https://meet.google.com/dqm-jktr-wwk?hs=122&authuser=0

Thursday 10.30am and 2.30pm  https://meet.google.com/try-risc-kxs?hs=122&authuser=0

I will summarise our discussions for those who are unable to access the meetings at the end of the week but please remember that things can change very quickly. What I have ready to share should mean that it is easy to scale up or scale down depending on the movement of the virus but nothing is predictable as we all know.

Please continue to take care and stay safe.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Go, Aiden, Go!

aiden cancer sponsor

Aiden and Lacey’s wee sister Jessi died last autumn as many of you know. Aiden has decided to run 150km in 30 days – last day is August 4th –  for Children With Cancer UK in memory of Jessi. Now, Aiden loves his football so if he had been doing a sponsored event around football that would have been easy for him. But running is not his favourite activity, I think it would be fair to say! He is on target to complete this and so far has £2010. Can you help raise this further? If you can, no matter how small a donation, please give if you can.


P7 Hoodies and Updates

At last – the P7 Hoodies are here! All P7s, if possible should come to the school car park on Wednesday 29th July at 12 noon to come and collect.

There are no new updates with regards to nursery and school restarting but we are expecting an announcement from Scottish Government at the end of this week. I will not be posting anything until next Monday as the Highland Council will need to reflect on the government’s announcement and communicate any changes to us before I can share with you. I aim to hold a few parent video meets next week at different times so that there should be a time that is convenient to you. Staff should look at our classroom stream for any announcements there as of next week.

Trust you are all well. Remain safe.

Aileen Mackay, HT

End of ELC/School Year

Mr Aitchison will be here with me next week so we will lay out your children’s belongings either outside or if the weather isn’t dry (as if) in the foyer on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I have set out allocated times for year groups. If you have children in different year groups, please come to the earliest timetabled session and either Mr Aitchison or I will go and collect the rest of your children’s belongings. If you can’t manage at the allocated time, please email me aileen.mackay@highlandschools.net and we’ll fit you into the Thursday section or some other mutually convenient time.


As those who have been on the whole school video meets know, I have clear models ready for going back in August if we are to be at reduced times however I don’t want to put people into a panic at the very time you should be closing screens and relaxing together. If anyone wants to see the dates from August to October should you require forward planning then please email me and I’ll forward on. You will all get copies of your child’s ‘treehouse’ and group days in school by post if we have to go to ‘Plan B’. The Scottish Government has made it clear that if all remains as under control as the virus is at the moment then we have to plan for full return and no restrictions. We’ll wait and see but as I have said before, we won’t know anything until late July/early August. As soon as I can after that, I will start the video meets again and explain how it will all work.

It is with regret that we have to say cheerio to Mrs Carson who was with us in P3 from October until now. She was a real asset to the school and I know her genuine smile was welcomed by her class and all her colleagues.

Muriel, our long standing cook has retired! We will have a celebration for her in the new session – no one gets to leave here quietly after years of service…


This is another person who is leaving us – she has served Highland Council for 44 years. Her name is Shiona Alexander and has been our educational psychologist for many of those years. You may never have met her but there are countless people in education that help class teachers shape the lives of your children and Shiona is one of those. Her advice, support and genuine care for the youngsters in this school has amazed me. Thank you, Shiona, for your dedication to education and for how you have helped so many people and families as well as teachers.

Did you all manage to get through singing, ‘As We Go Now’ in assembly today without tears?! We truly are precious to each other and let that remain as we go forward connected and determined together.

Staff will not be available during the school holidays but if you have any questions, or worries don’t hesitate to contact me. The Family Team is working some of the holidays and I will be in and around work so don’t feel lonely or worried. We all need each other.

From staff to you all: thank you for making our work a pleasure. Your support is invaluable and Smithton is only good when we work together. Forgive us our mistakes over the year, celebrate with us as we celebrate your children and know that, either physically distanced or not – we will be here for your children in August ready and willing to be part of their lives. Please take care.

Aileen Mackay, HT


P1 Parent Extra Session, P7 Refund

Apologies for technical difficulties last night. The new P1 parents and I have found a time where we can meet with anyone who didn’t get on last night. Here’s hoping this link still works tomorrow! The session will be 11am – 12 noon tomorrow, Wednesday 1st July. We will repeat what was said last night but if anyone wants to hear it again they are also welcome to join back in with us.

There is still no news of childcare or flexibility for nursery children. This information will now not come out until August. We appreciate this is not ideal and ask you to bear with us until we get the information given to us.

Glencoe Trip Refund: If you can come and collect your cheque for the full refund please do so tomorrow, Wednesday from the school foyer between 9.30am and 12.30pm

Aileen Mackay, HT

Monday news

Click here: Meeting for P1 parent meeting tonight 6.30pm – 7.30pm

Anyone who has a child starting in P1 are warmly invited to come and ‘meet the staff’ and see the changes that we are proposing.

It’s picnic week this week across the UK! If the weather stays kind, how about a teddy bears’ picnic in your garden as a family or physically distanced with your friends? Send a photo to your classroom…but watch teddy doesn’t eat all the strawberries!

All teachers will be engaging in a video meet with their new classes at some point this week and there will be a timetable for video meets on Thursday so you can say good bye to your teacher and classmates. We will build in a ‘proper’ farewell to your class and teacher early next session, if we are not restricted.

There will be a closing assembly on Thursday morning but our plan is for us to have a ‘proper’ assembly early in the new session, probably a Friday afternoon, so we can really celebrate the nursery children moving into P1 and the P7s moving onto secondary school. We will hand out the awards when we are together so there is a good atmosphere! All nominations for classes have been agreed at staff level so it will be a case of wait and see in late August, assuming there are ‘no restrictions’. A revised plan will take place if we are back to contingency planning.

Please keep looking to the blog for any updates. From now on if there is any news I will put in the heading ‘update’ so that you can search and get all the latest if you can’t remember  what the update said…I don’t know about you but an update seems to only last 5 minutes and then we get a new update…but not always updating on the previous information! I’ll always try to be as brief and succinct as possible.

Aileen Mackay, HT