End of ELC/School Year

Mr Aitchison will be here with me next week so we will lay out your children’s belongings either outside or if the weather isn’t dry (as if) in the foyer on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I have set out allocated times for year groups. If you have children in different year groups, please come to the earliest timetabled session and either Mr Aitchison or I will go and collect the rest of your children’s belongings. If you can’t manage at the allocated time, please email me aileen.mackay@highlandschools.net and we’ll fit you into the Thursday section or some other mutually convenient time.


As those who have been on the whole school video meets know, I have clear models ready for going back in August if we are to be at reduced times however I don’t want to put people into a panic at the very time you should be closing screens and relaxing together. If anyone wants to see the dates from August to October should you require forward planning then please email me and I’ll forward on. You will all get copies of your child’s ‘treehouse’ and group days in school by post if we have to go to ‘Plan B’. The Scottish Government has made it clear that if all remains as under control as the virus is at the moment then we have to plan for full return and no restrictions. We’ll wait and see but as I have said before, we won’t know anything until late July/early August. As soon as I can after that, I will start the video meets again and explain how it will all work.

It is with regret that we have to say cheerio to Mrs Carson who was with us in P3 from October until now. She was a real asset to the school and I know her genuine smile was welcomed by her class and all her colleagues.

Muriel, our long standing cook has retired! We will have a celebration for her in the new session – no one gets to leave here quietly after years of service…


This is another person who is leaving us – she has served Highland Council for 44 years. Her name is Shiona Alexander and has been our educational psychologist for many of those years. You may never have met her but there are countless people in education that help class teachers shape the lives of your children and Shiona is one of those. Her advice, support and genuine care for the youngsters in this school has amazed me. Thank you, Shiona, for your dedication to education and for how you have helped so many people and families as well as teachers.

Did you all manage to get through singing, ‘As We Go Now’ in assembly today without tears?! We truly are precious to each other and let that remain as we go forward connected and determined together.

Staff will not be available during the school holidays but if you have any questions, or worries don’t hesitate to contact me. The Family Team is working some of the holidays and I will be in and around work so don’t feel lonely or worried. We all need each other.

From staff to you all: thank you for making our work a pleasure. Your support is invaluable and Smithton is only good when we work together. Forgive us our mistakes over the year, celebrate with us as we celebrate your children and know that, either physically distanced or not – we will be here for your children in August ready and willing to be part of their lives. Please take care.

Aileen Mackay, HT


P1 Parent Extra Session, P7 Refund

Apologies for technical difficulties last night. The new P1 parents and I have found a time where we can meet with anyone who didn’t get on last night. Here’s hoping this link still works tomorrow! The session will be 11am – 12 noon tomorrow, Wednesday 1st July. We will repeat what was said last night but if anyone wants to hear it again they are also welcome to join back in with us.

There is still no news of childcare or flexibility for nursery children. This information will now not come out until August. We appreciate this is not ideal and ask you to bear with us until we get the information given to us.

Glencoe Trip Refund: If you can come and collect your cheque for the full refund please do so tomorrow, Wednesday from the school foyer between 9.30am and 12.30pm

Aileen Mackay, HT

Monday news

Click here: Meeting for P1 parent meeting tonight 6.30pm – 7.30pm

Anyone who has a child starting in P1 are warmly invited to come and ‘meet the staff’ and see the changes that we are proposing.

It’s picnic week this week across the UK! If the weather stays kind, how about a teddy bears’ picnic in your garden as a family or physically distanced with your friends? Send a photo to your classroom…but watch teddy doesn’t eat all the strawberries!

All teachers will be engaging in a video meet with their new classes at some point this week and there will be a timetable for video meets on Thursday so you can say good bye to your teacher and classmates. We will build in a ‘proper’ farewell to your class and teacher early next session, if we are not restricted.

There will be a closing assembly on Thursday morning but our plan is for us to have a ‘proper’ assembly early in the new session, probably a Friday afternoon, so we can really celebrate the nursery children moving into P1 and the P7s moving onto secondary school. We will hand out the awards when we are together so there is a good atmosphere! All nominations for classes have been agreed at staff level so it will be a case of wait and see in late August, assuming there are ‘no restrictions’. A revised plan will take place if we are back to contingency planning.

Please keep looking to the blog for any updates. From now on if there is any news I will put in the heading ‘update’ so that you can search and get all the latest if you can’t remember  what the update said…I don’t know about you but an update seems to only last 5 minutes and then we get a new update…but not always updating on the previous information! I’ll always try to be as brief and succinct as possible.

Aileen Mackay, HT


Thursday Already!

Early years activity can be found in the ELC tab or here

The last survey about home learning link is here and, again, please help us get things right, should we need to continue with a blended approach after the holidays. Please note that next week there will be another survey but it will be around technical and other resources for coming back to school – this will be in your best interest to fill it in and return to me.

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister announced on Tuesday that the hope of the Scottish Government was that all schools and early learning centres would be back in August ‘without restrictions’ so long as the virus was under control.

For some of you this may be a welcome statement, for others this might cause worry or pressure. We will continue to work together and analyse the way forward.

At this moment in time we abide by the 2m distancing rule and have made our arrangements with you. This stands until we are told otherwise. Obviously it will be good to be back with ‘no restrictions’ when the time is right. I will keep the blog updated over the holidays and nearer the time I will make sure there are video meets for people to talk through any issues that may arise between now and 12th August.

For those who have managed the video meets recently I have information ready to be shared with you all but we still haven’t had any information about early years so it would be wrong of me to issue without the full information. Please know that I will share as soon as possible.

We’re still hoping to share classes and teacher names with you tomorrow and this will be around 2.30pm via Dojo. However, there have been changes already to the staffing even this morning and I am still waiting for confirmation about other posts which will have a knock on effect for classes so…watch this space! As we say every year, things may change so these will be provisional classes only.

Finally, sit back and read this book. We might not be able to fly around the world yet (or even if we could have afforded it anyway!) but Maya in P2 has worked all lock down creating this book from around the world. The polar bear story tickled me…

Aileen Mackay, HT

Support over the Summer

This has just come in:

We here at ‘inSpires at Inverness Cathedral’ have been successful in gaining a Wellbeing Grant which we are using to facilitate a ‘Lunchbox Club/Activity Pack’ Summer Holiday club.  There will be lunchboxes to collect as well as age-related activity packs.  While collecting their lunchboxes, there will be the opportunity to complete an application for School Uniform and Winter Jacket banks for all families.


Lunchboxes/Activity Packs can be collected from Kenneth Street Halls, 9-11 Kenneth Street, Inverness IV3 5NR on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11am to 1pm.  The project will run from Monday 6th July to Friday 7th August.


We require that children are registered for this to ensure we meet health and hygiene/Covid-19 regulations as well as ensuring that any dietary/allergy requirements are suitably catered for.  We hereby enclose the link for the online form which requires to be submitted for our LUNCHBOX CLUB.  I hope that you can forward to those families who you feel are best able to utilise this club so that we can gauge supply and demand.


If you have any questions, please get in touch by replying to this email.


With kind regards

Lynne McWhinnie

Project Co-ordinator, inSpires at Inverness Cathedral



Lunch Club/School Uniform & Winter Jacket Banks





Results of Survey

Model 1 (two consecutive days, changing each week) 82

Model 1 (fixed day per week; one in three Thursdays) 58

Don’t mind 107

Model 1 it is….It should be easy to scale up to two days per group per week if we get the go ahead for 50% if restrictions are lifted somewhat in 8 weeks’ time. Thank you all so much for your contributions.

Next steps most likely from the end of this week,into the last week of term but certainly before August 12th when the children are back:

  • share classes and teachers names with you
  • share the information about where classrooms are, what time your children will be starting and finishing
  • getting a  calendar of dates for each family sent out to you when you will be in school August to October
  • new class teacher to set up new google classroom and hold google meets with you
  • a virtual tour video created when the classrooms are laid out in the way they will be after the holidays
  • signage and one way systems put in place
  • gate up at main entrance
  • fence up outside the nursery (where herras fencing is still in place)
  • answers to questions such as whether the school can be used for keyworker hubs and various others!

It’s all changing so quickly based on medical evidence and we have to keep adapting. Please bear with us as we endeavour to keep your children safe and keep you up to date.

Thank you for your patience.

Aileen Mackay, HT

School Updates

Morning, everyone. There has been no news coming out over the weekend about staff updates, nursery hours and updates for how nursery will look.

As soon as I know anything I will pass on. This is always an anxious time for parents and young people as it’s around change: change of class, teacher and perhaps classmates. We appreciate that it is good to be able to guide you and your child as much as possible through change and transition. All I can ask you to do is to remain calm when discussing changes with your child and reassure that their teachers and school staff are working really hard to make it easy and safe for them to come back to school in August. As you reassure them, please be reassured yourself.

All we know is that it will continue to be blended learning i.e. some time in school, some time at home. This will continue to be disruptive to you, we appreciate but we mustn’t take chances with this virus. I suggest getting in touch with your employer about how best you can go back to work, if that is a concern and please wait until our final plans have been accepted by Highland Council.

Again, with a fortnight to go it is very last minute but I can assure you that we are doing all we can with the knowledge that we have.

Here is tonight’s video link for anyone who missed last Thursday’s meeting. There will be no different news so if you attended on Thursday, please leave the spaces for others.

We have been promised nursery/ELC news today so we will go ahead with tomorrow night’s video meeting for nursery parents. The video link will be available tomorrow. Meanwhile, have fun with this nursery activity using ice cubes!

Have a good week,

Aileen Mackay, HT