Well being and Digital Week

We started off this week considering digital awareness and social media. Great tools for so many reasons but we still need to guide our young people to make good choices. Did you manage to reduce your time on devices?!

The week also morphed into really looking at well being for us all – staff and young people. It continues to be tough for so many of us so it’s really important that we consider what helps us as individuals. I need to get out in fresh air with the wind in my face. Everything feels so much better afterwards and it genuinely helps to clear my head. What helps you? You need to be in a good place as well so that you have the resilience to keep the boundaries and routines. Our young people have been finding out what helps them all week. Resilience is like a muscle: it needs to be exercised! If your child says, ‘I can’t do it!’ add in ‘Yet….’ We might feel like that as parents (‘I can’t do this! It’s too hard!’) but keep persevering. The hard work of being a parent will pay off and is paying off as we see Smithton young people growing and maturing.

Ms Bills loves her nature and in assembly today we talked about whatever your religion or faith, being still and knowing your God or marvelling around you is so important. Here is a message from Ms Bills:

In the words of “Last Child In The Woods” Author, Richard Louv; “Reconnection to the natural world is fundamental to human health, well-being, spirit and survival”.

To celebrate Nature and promote well-being, explorers this week have been hugging trees and “earthing”. Hugging a tree increases levels of the hormone oxytocin. This hormone is responsible for feeling calm and emotional bonding. When Hugging a tree, the hormones serotonin and dopamine make you feel happier. Another word for this health boosting awesomeness is “ecowellness”, you can also get similar benefits from “earthing” (walking barefoot).

Not only is spending time in nature known to increase overall health and well-being, grabbing a tree for a hug is more important than ever right now. Humans are social creatures and we need contact and intimacy to feel “whole”, but at the moment hugging is the opposite of social distancing, in fact it’s still not enthusiastically recommended because of the pandemic. But hugging a tree is a great substitude.

“The dirtier the feet, the happier the heart…” – unknown

Earthing (also known as grounding) involves heading outside barefoot and letting your skin connect with the Earth beneath you. Whether you wriggle your toes in soft sand or take a stroll across a field barefoot, it enables you to reconnect to Mother Nature in the simplest way.

There’s scientific evidence, albeit a small amount, to suggest the benefits of earthing for mind and body are very real – but if anything it feels good!

So go get your dose of Vitamin Tree, wriggle your toes in the earth, stay socially distanced and hug a tree!

Take time this weekend to ‘be’ as well as to ‘do’. Enjoy quality time with each other in your household as we look to the future and embracing others very soon.

Enjoy the photos. Lots of gardening ones and there’s a cracker of ‘climate activists’ as they called themselves. Substance awareness training in P5 this week looked at tobacco and as well as star awards there are a few budding golfers as well.

Have a great weekend. Aileen Mackay, HT

Do you have a child in nursery coming into P1? Do you qualify for a clothing grant and free meals for your other children already in the school? Click here to find out how quick and easy it is to add your child coming into P1 so that they all get the benefit.

Parent Council Tuesday 11th May at 6pm

Parent Council is inviting you to join them tomorrow night. Please use the code:


Previous minutes:

This is National Digital Week. Staff will be reminding young people again about the positive aspects of learning though digital devices but also the perils of social media and the various pitfalls to avoid or how to tell someone if there is something that makes them feel uneasy or hurt. See more ideas in the HT learning summary this week.

Have a good week. Aileen Mackay, HT

4 Seasons in One Day

We tend to say that in autumn or winter – not in May! What a week of weather yet the children had great fun in the hailstones and watching the paths the rain made on the paths. Always positive at Smithton and finding the good in all that life throws at us!

A number of people have been asking about the virtual cooking group that we have on a Monday night. This is run by some of our Family PEF Team so if anyone wants to join in on Monday night, see the recipe below and join the Google Classroom at 4pm:

Make sure you have all the ingredients before you start!

I always say that once you have Smithton blood in you you remain part of the Smithton family even when you leave. Mr Speakman retired at Easter and I have to let you know of some more changes. Mrs Aitken, Mrs MacMillan and Mr West are retiring in the summer. I won’t tell you how old they are but I can tell you there is more than sixty years service to Smithton between them. I’m delighted for them as they thoroughly deserve a rest but I’m desperately sad to be losing them as colleagues. We all feel the same as a staff. Mrs Mack (McCormack), we know, is just a grown up child with her mud pits, scootering, sand and marshmallows. However she also leaves us in the summer to go back to university to study art. None of these people can be replaced as they are unique, but we’re hopeful that most if not all positions will be filled before the summer.

We have one more person leaving us but this is different. Highland Council has decided that childcare managers in nurseries will no longer be attached to schools so Mrs Stuart will be leaving us in June, too. She will be deployed to take on another post in the Council. Her role and hours will not be replaced so I will be directly managing the nursery as well as the school. Staff have been told and we will work tirelessly to try and make sure the effects have no impact on parents, carers and young people but reducing the management capacity will mean changes not just for nursery but for the whole school. Mrs Stuart is a significant part of the school team and will be missed greatly.

Thanks to Mrs Aitken and P5 LM for planting seeds ready for our Four Seasons Garden. Look out for some photos as well as the Star Award winners. Here’s hoping for warmth in the sunshine this weekend.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Soggy Start to May

Wellies and hoods are the order of the week ahead! We will still be going outdoors to learn so please wrap up warm.

A wee reminder that the children and staff won’t be in school on Thursday – it’s an INSET day and also the building will be used for voting. Please note that 7th June is now also another INSET day so the children will be off school but, all going to COVID-19 plan, the staff will be allowed in to work and

Delighted to see Quinn’s community award from the supermarket Morrison’s! She was nominated by several people in the community for her dedication and help to people recently. As one person put it,’She has helped regardless put others’ health before her own.. Her auto immune disease won’t beat her. She is a real credit to this community.’ Well done, Quinn!

Head Teacher’s Learning Summary available.

Aileen Mackay, HT

And April Is Over..How Did That Happen?!

I know I’m getting old when the months are just flying by..or maybe because I’m having too much fun in my job?! Either way, May beckons next week! Remember that Monday is a holiday so no school or nursery and Thursday is an in service day so no children in school or nursery and staff will be working from home.

We’ve also been told today that 7th June is an added in service day. I appreciate this may cause frustration for those of you who are working but it will be the first time the staff have been able to meet together since March 17th 2020 and it is needed going forward to make sure everything is in place for August 2021. You may hear that seconodary schools have two days – 7th and 8th but primaries in Highland and the nurseries just have 7th.

We will be starting to look at classes for August next week but we probably won’t be able to share classes and teachers until everything is finalised with the council. For those of you new to schools this can be an anxious time of not knowing – please just try and relax about it all. We always share as soon as we know but it could be right up until the end of term and, there are times when things have had to change even in August.

Shinty Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

Shinty Coaching
Parent volunteer Steven Grant has kindly offered to continue shinty sessions at Culloden Community Pitches for all P2-P7 pupils in the Culloden ASG 4.15 – 5.15pm. These sessions will start on Tuesday 11th May and finish on Tuesday 22nd June at no cost. There will be lots of fun games and activities to develop basic movement skills and team working skills. Also a great opportunity to meet new friends from other schools. There is also an excellent pathway to Inverness Shinty Club where there is a very active Junior section as part of this club. We will require a parent helper to support Steven with these sessions so if you are available please be in touch with Active Schools Coordinator lynne.fraser@highlifehighland.com. You do not have to be a High Life member to book on to these sessions just use the Guest Checkout when booking. Booking link is https://booking.highlifehighland.com using code 3647CULL.
Would you be interested in having a piano? A local neighbour has offered one to any of our young people. Please call the school office if you are interested. Thank you to the neighbour for thinking of us!

Another good week observing and working with your children – some of the learning this week has been terrific – language and writing in particular blossoming in a variety of classes. So good to be a part of your children’s growing up. Mr Grandison was so pleased with his class he told me it had been a ‘belter’ of a week!

The pedal power from staff, parents and young people has been great, too this week even in the rain. Watch out for the scooter pictures in between the happy faces at break times and also our super Star Award winners.

As we head into the month of May we still can’t guarantee any kind of ‘normal’ end to the term but we can guarantee that we remain as focused as ever on learning and being creative to do what we can to make school life as normal as possible. We are coming out stronger despite frustrations of the past year. Let’s remain strong as a community and keep looking out for each other.

Enjoy counting the smiles again this week. Feet up, cuppa in hand and look at these photos. Your loved ones are growing up too fast!

See you Tuesday,

Aileen Mackay, HT

Nursery – P1 Transition Chat Tonight

A reminder for all parents and carers to join us for information about what P1 looks like nowadays and also an opportunity to meet the P1 teachers. Three will also be an opportunity to ask questions.

We’re hoping that in June we will be able to get you into the building but until restrictions are lifted we hope this may calm some nerves about your wee ones becoming big ones coming to school!

ELC- P1 transition meeting for parents
Wednesday, 28 April · 6:00 – 7:00pm
Google Meet joining info
Video call link: https://meet.google.com/gjf-cwnx-tgz

Aileen Mackay, HT

First Week Back Smiles

All things considered this was a good first week back! We are delighted to welcome Ms Mackay to P3 for this term and she is delighted to be with us. ‘I love my class already,’ were her words at the end of the week.

P2 took great delight in letting me know how to pronounce ‘pupa’ at assembly (we were looking at changes: how they are inevitable, how to take control of things we could change and how to stop worrying about the things we can’t) as we were watching how a caterpillar changes (using metamorphosis – every day’s a learning day!) into a butterfly. As P2 had been learning about minibeasts before Christmas here’s an illustration that children haven’t forgotten all their learning because of COVID-19.

As you will know, Seasons for Growth is a well known programme that we use at Smithton which helps parents and young people to cope after change, loss or bereavement. Last year some of the children who had been on the programme spoke up about wanting a place in the playground where everyone should have the opportunity to just relax and reflect so they were challenged with designing a garden. We’re absolutely delighted with the results. The four areas marked out will have plants and flowers in season depending on spring, summer, autumn and winter. What a great idea coming from the young people!

As part of the ‘Big Pedal’ next week, pupils will be given the chance to have some fun scootering in our school playground.  

We would normally recommend that young people wear helmets for cycling and scooting when they are riding out and about in the local community.  However, due to Covid-19 related issues, a decision has been made that pupils will not be required to wear a helmet from the shared set that we have in the school.  Should you wish for your child to wear a helmet during these scooter sessions, then they can of course use their own one if they bring it to school.

This ‘Scoot-a-thon’ activity has been risk-assessed and we are fully confident that it will be completely safe for everyone.

Here’s a challenge for you as parents and carers too: can you leave the car one day and walk to school? Or leave it at Smithton Free Church and walk a bit?

We’re so delighted that we managed to get another bike shed at no cost to the school. There should be more room now for bikes and scooters. This is a great testament to you as families who are encouraging your children to be active and improving well being by getting out in the fresh air. Well done to those of our young people who cycle and scooter from Westhill area -must be nice and easy in the morning coming down but that hill going back up?!

Some great Star Award achievements this week and some great learning outdoors as well as free play at break times and after school with family and friends! Enjoy the photo gallery from this week and to see many smiles you can see.

Have a great weekend – still keeping safe: wash hands, stay 2m apart and remain outdoors when meeting people.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Has Your Child Lost A Jacket??

We will be laying out jackets at the main entrance of ‘lost property’ jackets which don’t have a name in them each week on a Wednesday and Thursday from 2.30pm until 3.15pm. Feel free to come and check and we will be encouraging the older children to check on their way home.

Hope this helps!