Friday activities

Do take advantage of this as well as other activities during the holidays. No COVID update yet but will keep you posted as soon as I know of changes for the start of the new term.

Urgent – Please Read

I hadn’t planned to send a blog post quite so quickly after the term ended but Public Health have contacted me to say that there is a child with a positive COVID-19 test result. Please check you emails to see if you have been given a letter. If not, then the child is not in your child(ren)’s class(es).

Here is a letter for the whole school from Public Health:

I will be available if anyone has questions or needs to talk it through. Please email me aileen.mackay@highland.gov.uk and I’ll phone you back.

What a start to the holidays for some who are away on holiday but will need to isolate! Please take care, everyone and continue to follow the rules: hands, face, space.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Another Chapter in History

Well we’ve all been part of significant history this last eighteen months. What have you learned about yourself? What have you learned about each other? Have your priorities changed? One thing that remains at Smithton ELC and Primary: Determination! We believe and we achieve. Seeing young people give of their best day in day out which then inspires others who just do the minimum to take more pride in their work is a joy and privilege. Our P7s this year have been an inspiration to the rest of the school. Every P7 year group really practises self control and realises that they are role models for the school but this group really has been exceptional. Parents and carers – this doesn’t just happen – they need guidance from you so thank you so much for lending us your children for nine years. My only complaint is that some of you didn’t move into the area from nursery days so we haven’t had the full nine years with you all! We received some lovely cards from grandparents as well as parents. Thank you so much – you are as part of Smithton as the children and their parents and carers. Can we give a special mention to childminders, neighbours, big sisters and other relatives who do the school drop off/pick up? We love getting to chat with you daily and want you to know that you are just as important to us as the young people and their parents and carers. Thank you for your cheery smiles and chat each day in the playground!

P7 made up this poem about the school – isn’t it brilliant? I rest my case about our wonderful young people.

Our final assembly is usually a joyous occasion filled with laughter and happy tears as we congregate together as a community so it was with a hard heart that we had to make the decision to follow the rules and not meet altogether indoors. Let me try and give you a flavour of the morning:

The young people have been led each Friday in assembly by The House Captains online so today was no different as we all stayed in our classrooms to sing and to hear from each class. Our first song was Bad Days Won’t Last (this is a wee taster – maybe someone at home will sing it to you?!) chosen by Mr West. Mrs Aitken, Mrs MacMillan and Mrs Mac have been choosing the songs all term so it was fitting that Mr West got to choose the last one.

‘Spirit of Smithton’ awards are carried out annually and it is always a tough decision as to who gets nominated in each class. This year was no exception. As we couldn’t have parents and carers with us to see who got the nomination from each class staff put a video together so you could hear who was nominated. Challenge anyone who says young people aren’t hard working, determined, helpful, kind and friendly after watching this video of all the teachers discussing their nominations. The overall winner for the school was Andrew Alexander in P7! A fantastic achievement and so lovely to see the whole class cheering with celebration for him.

We were also impressed with how many perfect attendances we had this year! These young people all received awards, too. As we had a term of home learning again I needed to know that the attitude to learning at home was positive on a daily basis, too so extremely well done to all those who managed to get into school every single day or who were working at home. Watch out for next year’s award in this category: 100% attendance…..and no lateness!

We had great fun with Gnoma – our friendly gnome who leaves us cheeky messages regularly but who motivates the children to learn in a variety of ways. Whatever you do, don’t say to Miss Bennett that Gnoma looks like her – she gets quite huffy as Miss Bennett is a very hard working, ‘follow the rules and don’t be silly’ kind of assistant in the school (a-hem). She had shared a great video with the boys and girls about the adults who were leaving and retiring – great line when she called Mr West a MAMIL – middle aged man in lycra as he cycles to work every day! (Thankfully not in lycra, though…)

Despite the downpours this morning there were a few breaks and we rounded off the assembly standing outside in a circle singing ‘As We Go Now’. Mrs Fraser kindly video-ed this for us but I couldn’t get it to download thought the council firewall..but hopefully this will work: open up the document and click on the link here.

After the children went home we had our farewells as a staff to Mrs Stuart from the nursery. (She’s so determined to stay that she created a puncture in her car last night and she couldn’t drive it away!) We are desperately sorry to see the council change direction and remove childcare managers but we know that whichever department in the council that she goes to lead and manage it will do well under her care and direction. Mrs Mac is heading off to art school (we scoff at her sand, mud and clay creations but when she’s a rich and famous artist we will be calling in favours!) and that left the 70 years experience leaving us in the shape of Mrs Aitken, Mrs MacMillan and Mr West: all three embody The Spirit of Smithton and have caused the price of hankies to go through the roof here this week – not many dry eyes anywhere.

The Smithton community family is special – we all know that. On a personal level I have the best team to work with, the best group of young people in front of me daily and the best set of parents and carers who value their children’s education and recognise that their teachers, assistants, cooks, cleaners, clericals and janitors work so hard to get it right for each and every child. To those families moving away – we’ve said our farewells but we do want photos of them in their new school uniforms and want to know you have settled well. Do please keep in touch.

Here is our final slideshow of the year capturing moments from the whole year. Please know of our continual love for you as families over the holidays as well as in term time and here’s hoping for a lessening of restrictions going into August. I will update the blog next Friday, even if it’s just to say ‘no news’ and also at the end of the holidays. Stay safe, stay well and stay in communication with each other. It’s all about trusting, positive relationships.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Summer of Hope





The Highland Council is pleased to be able to offer some free activities and experiences during the summer thanks to funding from the Scottish Government.

Our “Summer of Hope” includes the activities included here

Watch out for The Highland Council sharing a webpage which will include more activities to come.
Keep your eyes peeled for a “Summer of Hope” launch through Eden Court Under Canvas too.

There are many ideas for family activities through Parentclub page to help you get out and about and enjoy our open spaces. https://www.parentclub.scot/topics/get-into-summer

Thanks for working so hard this year. Have a wonderful summer making memories with friends, family and everyone close to you inside and outside.

We can’t wait to hear all about it when you come back Refreshed, Reconnected, Re-energised and Ready to continue learning in August.
These are the 4 R’s we all need this summer!

Final Week…Summer is Almost Here!

Please watch the short film from the Scottish Government by clicking here and there should be information from Highland Council coming out tomorrow – look out for social media promotions of activities and ideas to build a ‘Summer of Hope’ together as a family.

Delighted to say that we have a Fun Fair theme all day today all organised by the class teachers and the young people. As a thank you there will be ice lollies for everyone before the end of the day. We might be having too much fun but we will try and take some photos!

You should have received your child’s class and teacher’s name from August. I am thrilled and delighted that we have retained Ms Mackay in P3 and Mrs Gray in P1/2. They have been a real asset to the school and although their time with us is only temporary next year, we’re holding on!

We want to welcome Mrs Murray to P4 as well. She has come from another school where the roll has decreased and is an added member of staff at Smithton for the year. She will be team teaching with Miss MacDonald who will continue to lead in literacy across the school.

Our final two class teachers starting with us are Miss O’Donnell and Mrs Robertson who will both have P6 classes. I know their work well and can’t believe how fortunate we are to have secured them for a year.

Our roll is ever increasing so we have gained another class for next year. The portacabins will be used and we are able to utilise our areas inside and out to create learning spaces maintaining a calmness across the school despite the numbers.

Bring on the sun today! Aileen Mackay, HT

Typical…No Annual Fete and it’s Sunny!

Isn’t it typical?! I’ve really missed the annual summer fete last year and this year as it’s always a good opportunity to catch up with friends old and young from the community – often people that have grown up or babies that were last year’s ‘bumps’! We’ve obviously missed the income that this generates as well but as most of it is usually spent on buses for class visits out with the school we haven’t done these. However, in August there will be a few fundraising schemes to get us up and running again, including the raffling of the Lockdown weekend family break that I won in September. Family and friends have given other donations and I know some of the Parent Council have plans…watch this space!

It was good to see parents and youngsters online during the week who will be coming into nursery or P1. If you missed the sessions just get in touch with any questions aileen.mackay@highland.gov.uk and keep following the school blog over the summer to see any updates due to COVID restrictions. We’re hoping that all young people will be able to come into the playground to start school each day rather than scattered around the school. There will definitely be a blog post next Friday and the Friday before we come back to school but we’ll wait and see if there are any changes during the summer, too.

Remember to join in with the cooking group online or just use their recipe.. online code is : Meet – ngf-njzt-ksh (google.com)

End of Term Arrangements

If you could let you child’s teacher know if he/she does not want a school lunch on the last day, that would be helpful. There was a query across all schools about whether we were closing early on Friday and I’ve held off until now to confirm that school and ELC will be closed from lunch time on Friday 25th June at 12 noon. Lunches will be had before then so that all can leave at 12.

On Wednesday the staff have organised a ‘FunFair Day’ with each class taking part in organising a typical funfair activity and then all classes taking part. There will be no cost to this day – literally for fun! The way Smithton staff manage to get reading, writing and counting into fun sessions is testament to their commitment right up until the last day of the school year.

Friday will see us having our final assembly but remaining online so no parents will be able to attend. I aim to record a few pieces of the assembly so that I can post links on the blog and a copyright friendly version of the year’s slideshow, too. It’s not what we would want but at least we can sing and there will be a session at the end of the assembly where we can get together.

Unfortunately we still do not know our staff for next session so I am as yet unable to share anything with staff, parents and children. As soon as I can I will. The draft is ready to go so that hopefully within an hour of me getting the information I will have been able to share with staff and then share with yourselves through DOJO. For those children with additional needs or have extra worries I will make sure you can come to see your new class in the last week of the holidays.

Have a great weekend when it comes and enjoy the following slideshow from our star award winners and around the school.

Aileen Mackay, HT

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