End of Term One

Eight weeks gone…just like that! We’ve welcomed new pupils into the school and had sad farewells to families who have moved away. We’ve had new staff join us and dealt with COVID, chest infections, broken limbs, bumps and bruises. But we’re resilient! Despite setbacks around the pandemic children and young people are learning. They are settling into class routines and they are happy, polite and willing to take responsibility. They are a credit to you – their families and friends.

P2 have been looking at road safety this week. As the nights ‘draw in’ it’s important that all of us use road safety rules to keep us from getting hurt. Watch this short video and please share on all your social media platforms to remind parents driving around the school that precious people are trying to cross a road. Please park safely and allow extra time if you are coming to pick up by ‘park and striding’ thanks to Smithton Free Church for allowing us to park there.

Stuck for an activity to do over the October holidays? Watch this short video and paint a green heart on a stone for our community! Please bring them into school the first week back after the holidays. Thanks to Becky who works for the Barn Church and King’s Fellowship for organising this.

Have a look at the photos in the slideshow. There’s great Star Award reasons as well as Baxter runners (including a marathon running teacher!), a Mod winning Gaelic singer, a ten pin bowling champion and snapshots from classes around their ‘big question’ week.

Continue to stay safe and know how much staff are striving to help your child be the very best he or she can be.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Home Learning/Learning Together

…but firstly new athletics from Active Schools:

Active Schools Athletics

Parent volunteer Jenna Gray has kindly offered to lead athletics sessions for all P4-P7s at Smithton Playing Field starting on Wednesday 27th October with the last session on 24th November 4.30 – 5.15pm pending daylight with a view to starting up sessions in February when the days begin to stretch. No experience of athletics required. These sessions will not start unless we have parent volunteers to assist with small duties such as taking a register, helping with set up/clear equipment, encouraging the group and perhaps overseeing a station. Please let me know which dates you can support if you are available. Please ensure your child(ren) brings a water bottle. Toilet facilities will not be available, so please go before arrival. Do not come to the session if you are unwell, have experienced any covid-19 symptoms in the previous 7 days, or are in Covid related quarantine or self-isolation. Anyone in the higher categories/shielding should be aware that attending places them at increased risk. Booking link is https://booking.highlifehighland.com using code 4506CULL. Contact Active Schools Coordinator Lynne Fraser for more information lynne.fraser@highlifehighland.com

Apologies for delay in getting the new draft homework policy out to you. Thanks to Student Learning Council, Parent Council and staff for working on this together. We will trial it until the end of the school session and ask for feedback from the three groups. The grids will be a work in progress until we get it right. Please contact me directly if you want to give feedback before we ask for it officially.

Aileen Mackay, HT

School Uniform

If you have any uniforms or jackets that your child has grown out of, please send them in and we can use them. This is a great way to save money and have extra jumpers, etc for when they get muddy….

Autumn Arrives

October holidays are upon us – see Highlife Highland’s events for over the holidays here.

What a week of changeable weather! However, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just right clothing needed. Great to see so many togged up with coats with hoods, wellies and all in one suits to continue having fun outdoors. Please note that we will be trying to maintain a third of our days accessing the outdoors for our learning even in the cold.

With autumn comes those darker mornings and often we snuggle into our warm beds rather than getting up. Or maybe the days are a bit windier and more dreich. This can lead some people to be a bit later resulting in taking the car to school rather than walking. We know it’s a small car park and we also know to park on pavements and on the grass can obscure the vision for people crossing roads. Parent Council has sent out a message to advise against breaching the highway code and I will do spot checks and move people on but really, this is something that we all need to tackle for ourselves. Please consider parking at the Smithton Free Church as they have said we can use it to ‘park and stride’. However we are also so proud of our young people who cycle, walk or scooter to school – the numbers are ever increasing so thank you to all of you who do this.

The dreaded COVID paragraph…please continue to be vigilant. There seem to be many cases in the school but NHS ‘test and protect’ team assure me on a daily basis when I call that the cases are not related to the school and if any in the future are then action will be taken for the whole class. Information will come either from Dojo if it affects your child’s class or via the blog if it’s general information. Not signed up to your child’s Dojo or Google Classroom? Don’t be embarrassed if you’re not sure how to do this – contact your child’s teacher or me directly.

I promised you a look at our new draft Learning Together Policy this week but with staff absences it hasn’t been possible to get the final wording with staff. Early next week! It’s almost there. Anyone who is keen to see it early please contact me directly aileen.mackay@higland.gov.uk.

Finishing on a good note: these photos are great for showing learning in action – interactions in maths week, tsunami and global understanding, star awards, use of speech marks and taking advantage of what’s happening right here, right now to develop literacy, science and well being! (Did you learn about speech marks using pasta?! The tooth fairy has been busy in P2/3 so Mrs Tough got fairy houses lit up and imaginative stories out of this!) Keep up with your class’s news daily on Dojo and Google Classroom.

Have a good weekend and as the House Captains say at assembly each week to us all, ‘Stay out of trouble!’ As if…

Aileen Mackay, HT

Last Friday in September…

…and we’re still in T shirts and welcoming the sun most days!

It’s not too late to request a parent/teacher contact time so please complete the survey for each child you have. Sunday at 6pm is the cut off time but we will be able to fit you in after that if you don’t get round to reading the blog until Monday. (Lots of you have filled in already so thank you very much.)

Don’t our new house captains look smart? Not only do they look smart, they are all smart with multiple intelligences. The interview process meant that they had to come up with new ideas and also pledges for home, school and personal goals which will have to be fulfilled during the year and with consistency. As there were so many brilliant applicants they have been requested to become leaders of learning across the school. Some are under way already with their planning and recruiting younger members to their teams…watch this space on Monday for our Gardening Leader and his requests.

Also next week, look out for our new homework policy. The name will change to the Learning Together Policy. We want to engender the joy of learning and not the trudge of work. We have taken the ideas from the young people through last year’s Learning Council as well as from the Parent Council in December and staff this term. Thanks to the disruptions to the year (can’t think of any, can you?!) it has taken longer to be able to consult with everyone but we’re hopeful that it has taken as many people’s considerations into account as possible.

Enjoy the photos this week of the Star Award winners as well as poor Mr Jamieson having to walk the plank (well, he did get his grammar and spelling wrong so the class took action!) and children learning indoors and outdoors, practising team work, sharing knowledge and concentration skills as well as improving learning. P6 were practising their handwriting…by sewing! (Fine motor skill practice – using innovation to engage and stimulate learning.)

Have a happy, safe weekend and enjoy each other’s company.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Parent Contact Sessions via Googlemeet

But firstly…..P1-P3 Athletics Club

Parent volunteer Jenna Gray has kindly offered to start an athletics club for P1-P3s at Smithton Playing Field (opposite the school). Initially these fun sessions will run for 7 weeks starting on Wednesday 29th September with a view to continuing pending support from other parents. Parents must book on the High Life Highland booking system at https://booking.highlifehighland.com Code 004249CULL. It is not a drop-in session. You must book in advance. These sessions are open to all pupils in P1-P3 at Smithton Primary on the following dates at 3.30-4.15pm: 29th September, 6th October, 27th October, 3rd November, 10th November, 17th November, 24th November. No cost. Please ensure your child is wearing suitable clothing, warm layers, jacket and appropriate footwear for this outdoor activity. We are looking for additional parent helpers to support this club so please contact Lynne Fraser if you are available. Contact Lynne Fraser, Active Schools Coordinator at lynne.fraser@highlifehighland.com for more information. Mob: 07795825603

Staff are keen to have a parent/teacher virtual meeting with you before the October holidays. It will be an opportunity to highlight what has been working well, how your child has been working at home and what you think the next steps are. While it is frustrating that we can’t yet have face to face meetings we are hoping that this will be changed as the year goes on. In the meantime, it is an important part of your child’s education that parents and teacher communicate so we hope that you will be able to join us online or by phone call.

The meeting will last no more than ten minutes, similar to having our usual face to face meetings. As you will not be called into school for the meeting your child’s teacher will allocate a date and time. If this is not suitable please reply directly to your child’s teacher.

If you would prefer a telephone call then please let your child’s teacher know. Please complete the survey by Sunday 26th September at 6pm so we can sort out the timetable for the school. School parents will be notified with a google link through Dojo. Please use this link to let us know if you would like a meeting

Aileen Mackay, HT

Get Outdoors With Us!

As Autumn slowly creeps up on us remember to have a jumper and jacket for your child as we will still be planning outdoor learning each day. If you find your child’s jacket seems to have gone missing we have a very fine collection in ‘lost property’! Please do ask your child to check…

The Family Team has organised another walk for parents and carers this Friday but this time, the plan is to drive and then walk. Fresh air, good company and getting away from the house for a while…what better way to start your weekend? Please let Lorraine know if you are planning to come so we can make sure there are enough lifts to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.

Have a good week!

Aileen Mackay, HT

Short Week – But Lots Packed In!

Staff worked hard Monday and Tuesday but it’s not the same without the children and young people so it was good to welcome them back on Wednesday. The Star Award winners are showing they can use the school values in whatever they do – delighted with the way people continue to learn from their mistakes, show to be good examples towards others and develop caring attitudes to the whole school community.

We have a Health Development Officer working with us this year and I’m delighted that Andrew Kyle has taken on responsibility to create a club in the early evening on a Friday for P7s. We’re hoping that this will be extended so that next year, when they are S1 that they will still come back and also be joined by the new P7 group. They will play games, enjoy sport, bake and cook as well as other activities that they choose. We want to encourage all our young people to find good use of their free time and to enjoy each other’s company in a positive way.

Parent contact sessions are due in a fortnight’s time – look out for information next week as, unfortunately, we will still have to meet virtually.

Thank you to all parents for your patience around changes in staff with your children and also keeping your children at home while waiting for tests. We all remain concerned and anxious at some levels around COVID-19. We are trying to reassure the children and young people all the time about what we can control (wash hands, keep them away from your face and trying to keep your distance!) and what to leave to adults and the medics to help us. As we head into autumn and winter don’t hesitate to contact me if you remain anxious or need a chat.

Have a good weekend,

Aileen Mackay, HT