Smithton Family Leaning On Each Other

Since coming back to school in January we have all benefitted from leaning on each other to learn. It’s great when you can learn something, even better when you can learn together and push each other to learn even more. Here’s a music video of P6/7 and P2 reminding us to stay strong!

Thank you for your patience as staff have slowly been coming back to work and ‘normal service’ is resuming! We’re delighted to see young people and their families feeling better but we’re acutely aware of some who are still unwell. Please know you are missed and we’ll be there for you when you feel better and ready to come back. Some may find it tricky to come back after a while – maybe as parents and carers you are finding it harder than you anticipated getting back into the swing of things. We’re no specialists but we’re hear to listen – I know I’ve said this before but it is good to talk.

We said farewell to Miss Boyle today who will be sharing her Smithton good will across other schools in the area. She has been a terrific asset to the school and for individual children – she’ll be missed but her legacy is that she has given children the tools to equip themselves for the world. She’s also got the famous Smithton blood through her now too that can’t ever leave her….

Classes are getting straight back into learning and staff are beginning to push the children to achieve more. See the photos below of Star Award winners and also a number of photos showing learning by collaboration indoors and outdoors with technology, raw materials and digital technology.

Have a great weekend. Stay safe and stay well looking after each other where you can.

Aileen Mackay, HT

A Good New Year To You All

Welcome to our new families in nursery and the school and welcome back to everyone else. It’s been a tough holiday for lots of families but hopefully most are feeling better and ready to get back to routine of school and nursery. Unfortunately we still have a number of staff absences so please be patient with us if we’re not as quick to respond as usual but we will when we can. Hopefully with the new guidelines we will have fewer absences but we will have to wait and see. I’ve put up a document which has experiments you can do at home while teachers get their google classrooms set up as I know some children are still isolating today. These are experiments you can do easily and it has the scientific explanation beside it…just in case science is not your strong point! Also, if you have access to BBC iplayer, check out the Royal Institute Christmas Lectures for excellent explanations of what a virus is and does, what a vaccine is and does and what lateral flow and PCR tests do…fascinating experiments and illustrations with young people to show what it all means! That should keep you going for a few hours..

As 2021, please remember if you are coming onto school grounds wear a mask unless exempt and show this clearly around your neck. Please park carefully and encourage your children to wrap up warm as we will continue to learn outside as well as inside and windows will be open for ventilation. We will continue to wash hands and use gel regularly throughout the day and our cleaning staff, as ever, will be doing a thorough job during the day as well as at the end of each day. We await the new Position Statement from the council but as the First Minister only updated the country yesterday afternoon it may take a day or two yet to be finalised. I’ll keep you informed as I hear anything.

Please take care. If your child has symptoms, please keep them off and get tested. If you’re worried or your child is worried about the virus, let us know. We’re here to help and try and keep things as normal as possible while taking good care at the same time. I continue to be amazed at how all staff encourage and support the young people from nursery to P7 while maintaining attainment standards across the board. We can’t take the place of other services which are also stretched but we can listen and respond as much as we can.

Short week but let’s get to it! Happy Thursday.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Flu Vaccine Update – and Thanks to Cleaners

A parent has kindly forwarded something she saw about catch up flu vaccinations for children. It’s drop in not appointment so if your child needs the vaccine here are the details:

The cleaning staff want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We are indebted to their dedication and commitment to their job. The school is spotless after they have been in. They are cheery all the time and their weekly award to classes goes down very well. The recent competition had prizes that were donated by the cleaners themselves! we are truly grateful for all they do.

Happy Christmas and A Good New Year!

‘Flu can be serious’ says the NHS poster. Some of your children were absent or were moving to our school in the middle of the nurses coming to give the vaccines and I know some of you have been told by your GP to go to the school. We can and do many things that are not strictly our remit but this is one we can’t deal with! However if you are in this predicament I have discovered a couple of routes to get the vaccine for your child: either call 0800 030 8013 or visit

While we remain ‘online’ for our assemblies we have introduced an exit music section where a class or adult chooses a piece for us to dance to as we leave assembly and head back into what we’re learning. Mrs Fraser chose ‘Cha Cha Slide’ today so while we remain separated into our classes we can still have assemblies together. Here’s a snippet of the dancing at the exit music today! The quiz question from the House Captains today was, ‘How many miles does Santa do on Christmas Eve as he goes around the circumference of the earth?’ Without searching online…do you know? Answer at the bottom of the blog…

Did you manage to watch the Nativity? Didn’t they do well?! I believe the stars are to appear in the Inverness Courier on Friday. You may want to get a P3 to sign a copy for posterity…

Enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas like no other version. Click here to listen and watch a new version…better than the original? Of course it is. Well done P1-7 for creating this and for the Learning Council who organised it.

What a treat for us today – Santa was able to come to some of the school and nursery and he had brought one of his trusted elves to keep him right. He kept to all the COVID rules and all who saw him were grateful. The elf had a very similar appearance to Gnoma..I wonder if they are related?!

We do not know what the future holds – and sometimes that’s a good thing – so let’s enjoy being in the present and take each day as it comes. Keep looking after yourselves and each other and our Smithton staff love goes to you all as families and friends who read this blog. However you celebrate Christmas either as Christians celebrating the birth of your Saviour or as human beings towards each other may you find peace and comfort. May we tackle 2022 together, whatever is thrown at us and for what we can change let’s do it positively. For what we can’t, let’s let go as the worry just adds to our stress. On a personal level I want to thank all staff for their consistent dedication. For all parents and carers I want to thank you for your openness, honesty and forgiveness when we’ve made mistakes. And lastly for the young people from nursery to P7 who are the inspiration for me getting out of bed each day: your smiles, your dancing, your concentration in learning and your kindness going around the school is the best.

Enjoy the Christmas photos and see below for the answer to the House Captains’ quiz question!

Aileen Mackay, HT

If Santa goes around the circumference of the earth and sprinkles magic to get the presents to every home rather than stopping in at every home in the world, it will be 24,901 miles or 40,075 km…how close were you? P4 LM/JM won the competition in assembly!

Final Friday of 2021 in School & ELC

Yet again staff and young people learning together continues to astound -everything from asking Highland Council’s Climate Control team questions like, ‘How much of a help do windmills and solar panels make?’ and, ‘What if COP-26 didn’t exist?’ to, ‘What kind of raft can carry a heavy weight?’ and, ‘How did the ancient Egyptians make the pyramids?’ Deep learning and open ended enquiry is making a difference to the engagement of our young people and encourages them to use their literacy and numeracy skills in a wide variety of contexts. So it’s not all parties and tinsel…there’s head scratching difficult learning taking place, too!

However, whether you are a parent or carer of nursery and P1-3 or not do book some time off if you can to watch our nativity play. Mrs Tough and Mrs Munro (coming back from maternity leave so has been in a few days doing work with a few classes…more to come on this) have been filming and editing since the actors have done their bit. The live stream will take place on Tuesday 21st December at 11am and the link will go up here on the school blog. Get your towels out to get your place in the line! Have a cuppa ready…invite your office team to watch too (I’m sure your boss will be fine with that!) or watch together as a family in the evening. Here’s a little foretaste of what’s to come..Click here!

So…Mrs Munro?! Yes, it’s been almost a year since she became a mum and she will be back after the holidays but only for two days a week. She is going into the additional support for learning side of teaching for now and will be working on Mondays and Tuesdays. It’s all worked out really well as she decided to do this at the same time as Mrs Wright has been called to work four days at Hilton Primary. Mrs Wright has been with us for two years now and has made a difference. We will be very sad to see her go but as she’s made friends with many of the staff we expect to see her and hear how she is getting on. We are delighted to have Mrs Munro back amongst us and thank her for coming in this term to keep in touch and get back into the swing of things.

We also say goodbye to Mademoiselle Renault today. She has been with us since October from France learning how to be a teacher. What a pleasure to have her here..and I’m not just saying it as she has said we can visit her! Maybe one day a class can go and visit her when she is a teacher…

Enjoy the star awards, chilled Christmas party social time and an amazing Henry VIII poster of learning as well as engaged P6s posing questions to the Climate Control team at Highland Council. P1 stories about Christmas are great for this stage in the year!

Have a good weekend and we may not be getting out and about as much as we would hope let’s remember what we do have: each other, a roof over our heads and freedom of speech to name a few of our blessings.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Know Your Children’s Social Media

A parent has alerted us to an app which has caused a scare in her home – thankfully she is a vigilant parent with her child but do look out for IMVU. I attach a support sheet for parents.

A good website that we have shared before for parental guides is National Online Safety – well worth a look. Do please check your child’s internet and app use regularly as I have discovered a number of parents who are unfamiliar with their children’s accounts or apps. Not trying to put any fear into homes – just as you would check on who they are playing with, etc check what they are viewing and interacting with online.

Aileen Mackay, HT

COVID Update from Highland Council

You will see the date is 9th December but was only disseminated to certain schools, ours included, today.

Can I take this opportunity to thank the vast majority of all of our parents and carers who are putting everyone in our community first by continuing to wear masks, by remaining socially distanced and keeping your children at home if they have any symptoms. It is vital as we head into the holidays that we continue to do what we can for each other.

Aileen Mackay, HT