How many more sleeps??

Watch this wee video of Ava telling her story…and wait for the joke at the end – my kind of laughs…and I think Gnoma would like it, too!

Christmas has crept up on us! Next week sees the infants finalising their nativity play that will be filmed and then given a premier 21st December where you can ‘stream live’ on the blog here. Also on Friday 10th (next Friday) we will be having our Christmas lunch at school and wearing Christmas jumpers alongside many businesses and schools in the MFR area. Please do not go and buy a jumper if your child doesn’t have one – just decorate with a piece of tinsel or add a Christmas badge…or just wear the school jumper. If you have jumpers that are too wee please send them in and we can use. School lunch is exactly the same price and we are not asking you to donate money for wearing the jumpers as we have already asked for poppies and children in need this term. If you want to donate then please do so to MFR Cash for Kids.

Parties: 16th – P6, P6/7 P7; 17th P4, P5; 20th P2, P2/3, P3; 21st P1, P1/2; 22nd ELC

Notice about a Christmas community event – all welcome:

I thank you again for your patience with us and our communication. We have a number of staff absences which means everything runs more slowly but we’re trying to ensure that action takes place for the young people and that learning remains as undisturbed as possible. As ever, we are indebted to staff covering and going beyond duty – everyone here is determined to work hard and achieve as much as possible with and for your children. It’s a real privilege to work with you as families.

As you inevitably start shopping and getting the last few bits and pieces stay calm, friendly and positive as you shop. Bring Smithton cheer wherever you go and let’s keep the reason for the season first and foremost in our minds! Stay safe and protect each other.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Parent Council Minutes

You can find the latest minutes, AGM report and HT report here on the Parent Council page of our website. Thanks to the staff and parents who give up their time to attend these meetings and also to the vast number of parents and friends of the school that volunteer when specific tasks are required. Every parent is part of the Parent Forum so everyone should feel safe and welcome to air their views and suggestions. The Parent Council exists so that it can represent everyone’s views so if the Council asks for any thoughts please do contribute.

We also like to make sure that there are people represented from all areas of the catchment area who can come to occasional meetings. Even if you can’t come to a meeting you can still share your views and they will appear in the minutes and actions.

For the last fourteen years the parents have influenced the curriculum through choosing British Sign Language as the second language taught here, the Religious and Moral Education programme, sex and relationships policy, the promoting positive relationships and anti bullying policy, social studies and science programmes; substance awareness policy, overseeing the new build project, raising huge amounts of money for playground equipment (should be coming next week!) and transport for class experiences…and the list goes on!

As Fiona Devlin hands over the responsibility I want to say a personal thanks to her for her support, diligence and utter hard work through the pandemic to keeping open lines of communication. She has been a remarkable link between school and parents and I can’t thank her enough.

On a different note: please be patient with us as we cope with staff absences and no cover. Invariably it means staff are covering for each other meaning when they are out of class they can’t get the work done they are supposed to…and obviously that includes me too as I’m covering classes, PSA and nursery. This isn’t meant to provide excuses but just a reminder that we, too, are going through the pandemic and might not get back to you as quickly as we would like or you are used to. Thank you, in advance, for your patience!

Aileen Mackay, HT

I guess winter is upon us…

What a bitterly cold day today but we’re made of strong stuff at Smithton – out playing and learning regardless! Thank you to all families for making sure gloves, hats and scarves also have their names in them!

Unfortunately the weather is to turn for the worse early evening and so we are having to cancel Funky Friday club for P7s tonight – sorry guys – but we don’t want to encourage you to be outside tonight and it would be quite nice if both Andrew and I got home safely, too.

If you know of someone who is looking to start nursery or school for the first time please pass on these dates: P1 enrolment is 31st January – 4th February and nursery enrolment is 14th February to 18th February.

Thanks to everyone for your patience this week with so many staff absences we’ve been a little slower getting back to you if you have tried to communicate with us. Maybe a good thing about the cold snap is that some of the bugs will be killed off and we’ll all be back to health and strength! A number of our young people have been absent, too. Please know that we will help them catch up when they are fit and well. We don’t just teach a curriculum – we try to meet the needs of every child in our care at the point of his/her learning.

Every term staff have to submit how well your child has been doing to me and I can see at a glance how things are going. This is then followed through with class teachers, Mr Lyon and me so that we can support class teachers to have the right resources and time to get things right in the classroom. Getting back into classrooms to monitor has meant that we can have meaningful conversations about individuals so it’s such a great privilege to be a part of your child’s learning journey from nursery to P7.

Enjoy the photos this week: homework, star awards, autumn and nature amongst other things. Your children really are growing in maturity as well as their learning. Stay safe, warm and dry this weekend!

Aileen Mackay, HT

Coughs and colds…But we’re still learning!

What a week for young people and staff absences! We hope you are all beginning to feel better as each person is missed when you are absent. It’s strange as it’s a fairly big staff and a fairly big number of young people at Smithton yet you can tell when even one person is missing. A huge thanks to staff who all mucked in to help out across the school – what a great team. For our young people coming back after being off sick – it can be tricky as you can feel immediately left out or worried that your friends will have made friends with other people without you. This is normal! Parents and carers, you can help by reassuring your child that coming back and getting ‘stuck in’ straight away is the best thing to do.

For the rest of us we have played with Pudsey, smiled and said, ‘Smelly Socks,’ read, counted, shared our views, solved problems, learned from each other, received Star Awards, read to friends and younger children, practised our sounds, division skills and estimated lengths of flight paths! See Florian’s feat of engineering here! Never a dull moment, that is for sure. Out of school Ross has amassed loads of badges in the BBs – well done, Ross. A reminder that school isn’t everything – we learn every moment of every day at home, at school, out of school clubs, with families and friends and children learn what they see…no pressures being a parent, are there?!

Have a good weekend and enjoy the full moon and skies over the next few days.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Pudsey Says a Huge Thank You!

So far we’re at £380! I know a few of you forgot your money today and have every intention of donating so please send it in tomorrow. A huge thank you to all and for all the wonderful reading that happened today too…more Children in Need pictures on Friday’s blog

Children in Need Reminder

Bedtime stories and PJs is our theme this year and remember we’re having it today so we are in our uniforms on Thursday and Friday for photos. Please remember it is November, though so wear a jumper on top of the PJs! I just hope I don’t need to stop at a shop on my way home tonight as I’ve forgotten to bring clothes to change into later…oh well…what book are you going to share today? I love Pippi Longstocking and her adventures so that’s the book I’ve brought!

I believe we are having a visit from Pudsey today, as well….wonder if he knows Gnoma?!

Aileen Mackay, HT

Children in Need and Photos

Morning. Sorry for the late notice but we’re having to juggle things around this week. Children in Need will be Wednesday – tomorrow – as we have the photographer coming Thursday and Friday.

If your child wants to join in, we’re coming in our pyjamas tomorrow and bringing a bed time story that we like to read with each other. If you can, please donate £1. If everyone did this we would raise £450.

Thursday and Friday the photographer will start with P7s and work her way through the school. It is all risk assessed and, similar to last year, it means you should all still have an annual photo. Please note that we are still unable to have siblings – only individual photos.

Apologies again for lateness – COVID-19 restrictions mean we have to wait until the last minute to be able to make decisions at times…and my computer had a virus yesterday afternoon and evening just to add to everything! (It doesn’t have a temperature, persistent cough and hasn’t lost it’s taste so I’m assuming it’s just overworked….)

Have a good Tuesday! Please remember to park responsibly if you need to park around the school but there is the option to park at Smithton Free Church and walk the last wee bit..

Aileen |Mackay, HT

Busy Week, Busy People!

Check out our top ten winners for the new hydro electric generator which is being built on the River Ness! Well done to the individuals in P6/7 and for their hard work around their learning on climate change that stimulated great names.

Please see this message from the council. COVID-19 remains a threat to us all – keep washing hands, covering your face and remaining 2m distance where possible:

With the recent rise in covid cases, I would like to reassure all parents/guardians that in the event of any possible class or school transmission, the Health Protection Team are contacted and investigations are carried out and facilitated by myself.

These investigations, depending on the numbers and likelihood of school transmission, can take a little time to conclude, due to HPT being very busy and working through their caseload on a daily basis, the wait for PCR results, and also coming to an informed decision regarding the type of letter/instruction to issue.  There is a staged approach to this in the event of multiple cases:

an initial warn and inform letter (given out by school) in the case of 1 case with possible link to school

a modified warn and inform letter from HPT (on discovery of more cases, which are possibly linked, in class) requesting pupils to seek a PCR while decision is being made

Outbreak letters, in the case of multiple linked cases, requiring children to isolate

‘Stepdown’ letter/s to communicate to each family when their child can return to school/normal activities.  This is dependent on when pupil last attended school, and PCR negative test.

The situation is ever-changing and fast moving at times, and many factors are taken into account when making decisions regarding closure or isolation. 

I do hope this clarifies the process, please be assured of our support as we navigate our way through these times.

One of the roles as head teacher and depute head teacher is to monitor learning in classes. Since March 2020 we haven’t been allowed to do this so it was fantastic that this restriction was lifted after the October holidays! We’ve let classes settle for a couple of weeks and then this week we got started in P1 with Miss MacKay and P6/7 with Mr Hardie. In the photos below you will see some from P1 – check out the hard sums being done with children who have had 10 weeks in school! You’ll notice everyone is engaged and committed to learning. Photos from P6/7 class next week as poor Mr Lyon has been off sick the last couple of days and he was engaging with P6/7. Each class will be visited and staff will engage with us around your child’s needs, learning and how they are making progress. Absences and lateness will also be monitored by us. It’s been a huge privilege this week.

Notice the ‘massage train’ in P3 – what a lovely idea to help relax everyone at the same time. Well done to all our star award winners this week as well.

Have a good weekend and trust that all remain safe and well.

Aileen Mackay, HT