Summer is coming…but not quite yet!

Apologies for delay in this blogpost coming…my computer thought it was on holiday on Friday…with a few stern words it is now working againhere’s what you should have had on Friday:

Message from Highland Council:

Eligible families will receive support to feed their children over the summer school holidays. The payment will be made to the Parent/Guardian whom is noted as first point of contact by  the school,  as shared by the Parent/Guardian. Please contact your child’s school if you need to update any information previously shared with the school.

Pleas note P1-4 parents especially – if you haven’t claimed for Free School Meals and Clothing grant please do so otherwise you will not get this payment over the summer. Contact https://www.highland.gov.uk/directory_record/102970/benefit_advice for more information.

We look forward to another of our transition meetings for nursery parents coming into P1. This Tuesday we will be having a virtual meeting on and here is the code:

Nursery – P1 Transition Q&A Session
Tuesday, 15 June · 6:00 – 7:00pm
Google Meet joining info
Video call link: https://meet.google.com/guk-ogon-zqv

This Wednesday at 6pm we will be inviting our new nursery parents and children. Unfortunate;y we are still not allowed to have parents in the building so it will be a virtual meeting. I will take the laptop ‘on tour’ in the nursery gardens and playrooms so that you can at least get a feel for the place! Here is the code to join:

New Nursery Parents
Wednesday, 16 June · 6:00 – 7:00pm
Google Meet joining info
Video call link: https://meet.google.com/anm-pcvf-hgh

Monday’s Cooking Group Video link – join in if you can or send a photo of your cooking!

Here’s Monday’s receipe:

Staff have been getting the end of term photos and music sorted so a slimmed down version of photos for this week! Lovely photos of a class getting art all morning where someone shared her reward for hard work with her whole class and star award winners. A few classes had the whole class getting the award which is lovely to see.

Assembly at the end of term will not include parents, unfortunately however there will be some parts videoed and posted on the blog. We continue to have assembly in individual classrooms linked up by googlemeets but there is progress – we were allowed to sing on Friday! P7 even joined in the singing.. https://drive.google.com/file/d/15oFrOpXhcHTnyhaYd_K9wBeemSGHt9cr/view?usp=sharing

A Great Week for Learning Outside!

We won’t know until the end of term which house has won the sports cup but it has been great seeing the variety of games, sports, relaxation activities, healthy eating and drinking advice and everything else in between. I’m just delighted that by the end of the week the most competitive teachers were still playing nicely and behaving!

However, I am quite concerned that there have been performance enhancing illegal activities in P5…the blue tongue gives it away…

Sticking with P5, a few months ago some of our P5 girls and one from P4 took part in an engineering project with Glasgow University. Each week they faced a new experiment in engineering from a group there called ‘FemEng’: a variety of engineers who are promoting their subject to girls. They had great fun from bridge building to DNA creation with wine gums (!) and met, online, a different female engineer each week. The plan was to have these girls then lead an engineering after school club for both boys and girls…and then the second lockdown started. The fantastic news is that the student engineer who was leading the project with us has won an award! She’s keen to keep working with us so hopefully we’ll keep in touch as she moves on with her studies into the world of work. Well done, Toni! You inspired us into wanting to start a group and allowed us to explore the world of engineering!

For the last couple of years, the school has taken part in the Inverness 5K event.  However, this year due to COVID restrictions, we were unable to organise this.  For 2021, we have decided to lay down a 2.5K trail in the local Smithton park and woodland as an alternative. The child-friendly design of each stone is inspired by the children in our school and they have  also helped to map out and risk assess the trails. Access to Maps of the route will soon be available and the stones will be laid in the next couple of weeks, which we hope classes at the school and families will enjoy using. If you have any queries about this project, please get in touch with Mrs Mack via the school.  Many thanks Mrs Mack  Outdoor Explorer Volunteer.

Quick reminder that you should have received your child’s summary report today. This includes your child’s view of their learning as well as the teacher’s assessment. Didn’t your child do well? I am hugely impressed that no one is using COVID as an excuse. Everyone has moved on in their learning and therefore their time at home with you means that all the tears, tantrums and reluctance to stick to routines has paid off. If you are feeling guilty that there were more rows and less patience during lockdown be relieved that it hasn’t had a lasting impact and that staff are working hard with your children in school to raise their confidence, build their relationships and social skills back up. Health and well being remains paramount because as you’ve heard me say on numerous occasions, if you’re not happy, content and self confident, learning is much more difficult. Great photos this week of star award winners, ‘resilient kids’ programme participants in nursery going into P1, parents having fun together and learning outside.

See you all on Tuesday – in service day on Monday – the first one this year that staff have been allowed into the building so there’s lots to sort out!

Have a good and safe weekend,

Aileen Mackay, HT

Healthy Bodies and Minds

It’s been another week of ups and downs for many. The children and young people are doing really well when they get here but we are aware there are many who are struggling to get up in the morning or motivation to get going is not quite what it is usually. I’m saying this not to complain, just to let you know there are many families in the same boat – you are not alone! Lauren from our Family Team came across some mental health apps from the NHS which are assessed as clinically safe and secure to use. Don’t wait until you feel you might need them – click here to check them out and see which ones might help you and your family.

Next week sees our health an well being week. It will be strange not having parents, carers and friends joining in with the activities but maybe as families you could do some activities and for extra house points, with photographic evidence, you could join in after school? Maybe swapping juice for water with your evening meal; or a family cycle or switching off electronic devices and playing board games or cards together? Let’s say ten house points for each child in the family who has some evidence that the family, including adults, did some health and well being activities together! If easier, children can come in sports wear all week but if they prefer the routine of school uniform that’s absolutely fine.

As we gear up for end of term we want to explore how we can still have a final assembly and to include parents and carers. With this in mind, we’d like to trial as many people as possible logging into our assembly on Friday. I’ll put a code out next Friday morning on the blog. You don’t have to listen in or even stay the whole time – we just want to see if we can get lots of people on at the same time without ‘buffer face’ happeing. If you can log on at 9.30am next week that would be great.

The following photos have everything from scooter buddies, outdoor art, stories about Mr Lyon’s voice being stolen, dancer of the week, fun in the rain (we find fun in everything here), star awards and much more. Relax and enjoy.

This promised sunshine better come! Stay safe in the sun if it does, keep washing hands and staying your 2m distance where possible. Looking forward to next week already!

Aileen Mackay, HT

Staying Positive…

…The weather will improve! Why not join us on Friday? It’s not a major hike but the opportunity to ditch the housework or close the laptop for a while and enjoy fresh air, good company and a cuppa at the end.

Sunshine on a Rainy Day!

The sun always shine here at nursery and school whatever the weather – it does, honestly! Well on the inside….

Fancy joining the cooking group on Monday at 4pm? Here’s the recipe for what’s cooking and the joining link.

If you can’t join on Monday but cook over the weekend, do send in a photo to us!

Every day is a learning day but how much learning can you actually get through play? When your child comes home saying that they played all day are you getting worried? You may hear from the media that children have lost their learning due to the pandemic. I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again, they gained time with their families, they worked hard at home and for the ones who struggled to focus on academic work at home they are picking up thanks to the intuitive way the staff understand where the children are in their learning and where they need to be next. Mr Lyon, our newly appointed DHT, created this video to show what learning through play can offer. Throughout the school we want our young people to have a thrill for learning and be enquiry based in all they do. A can do, will do attitude is needed by all of us to inspire and motivate. As parents, carers and staff: let’s not get weary with the pressures of life. Let’s enthuse our young people to be the best they can possibly be. Click here to watch the 7 minute video. from Mr Lyon who was working with Mrs Morison’s P2 class. I’m a proud head teacher again at the end of this week being part of Team Smithton.

Enjoy these rays of sunshine: star award winners, problem solvers, gardeners, den builders, 3D drawer and team players.

Have a great weekend and enjoy nature – just remember to put on your wellies and jackets!

Aileen Mackay, HT

Quick Update

Parent Council minutes – click here

As you will know Mr West is retiring in the summer. Parent Council members, councillors and I interviewed a strong contest yesterday but Mr Lyon has been successful and will start as permanent DHT for us in August. Mr Lyon comes with vast experience both locally, in other local authorities and from across the world where he was an inspector, too. When he arrived back from the middle east last year he took up a supply teacher post here and helped us through the first ‘lockdown’. It is humbling for us all to note that he was determined to stay at Smithton regardless of the position as he feels a real commitment here.

Parent Council members and local councillors proved to be a real asset to the interviewing process and I thank them for their time.

Have a good Thursday!

Aileen Mackay, HT

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:


https://meet.google.com/fzq-mvvy-kgb

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