Another Glorious Week…

…and the weather was good, too!

Children and young people settling well with class reps for the Pupil Learning Council underway and House Captain applications coming in from P7s. Nursery children smiling, learning and laughing together – so good to see all over the school and nursery that staff and young people are enjoying their time together and making the most of every day.

We continue to spend our time learning outdoors, learning together in pairs and groups and using digital technology throughout the day so there is a variety for all. Staff are planning new learning alongside their classes and support staff are targeting children’s needs at all levels to ensure all are being stretched.

COVID-19 is still an ever present threat. Thank you to all parents and carers who are wearing masks and remaining at least 1m away from adults. Please remain vigilant and not complacent. It’s all rather tricky to navigate the restrictions and rules as each case has to be investigated by NHS which sometimes comes up with different outcomes for different people. Please don’t feel alone – if you are worried do call us and if we don’t know the answer we can find out. We’re happy to help. Just keep safe.

There are a few after school club news items below. Please read and see if any are of interest at the moment:

Girls Football P3-P7 Culloden Pitches

Parent volunteer Rory Black is continuing to offer girls football every Friday this term 3.30-4.30pm providing we have additional parents available to support with the sessions. Please book on to the High Life booking system using code 04117CULL at https://booking.highlifehighland.com These sessions are all about developing basic footwork, ball skills and working together as a team. Lots of fun games and activities to develop communication and coordination by playing football. No experience of playing football is required so give it a go! All girls P3-P7 welcome. 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. Parents must be present to sign your child in and out of sessions. All risk assessments are in place with a safe environment for your child to participate. Open to all girls P3-P7 whether HLH member or not. Contact Lynne Fraser, Active Schools Coordinator Mob: 07795825603 if you are able to help with these sessions.

Shinty P2 – P7 Culloden Pitches

Parent volunteer Steven Grant is continuing to offer shinty every Monday this term 4.15-5.15pm providing we have additional parents available to support with the sessions. Please book on to the High Life booking system using code 004120CULL at https://booking.highlifehighland.com  A great opportunity to learn basics skills of the game by playing lots of fun games and activities. Please wear suitable clothing and bring a waterproof jacket. Bring a water bottle. Toilet facilities will not be available at this venue, 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. We require parent helpers with this activity. Please be in touch with lynne.fraser@highlifehighland.com if you are available to help as we need extra adults to support this club.

Running Club parent volunteers

Running clubs are becoming extremely popular in the Culloden ASG either as an after school club or in the community. I would like to start a club in the Smithton/Cradlehall and Balloch areas and currently seeking any parents in the cluster who would be interested in getting involved. Absolutely no experience is required and you certainly do not need to be a runner. All that is required is a sense of humour, enthusiasm, organisation and a passion for working with youngsters. The day and time of the club can be your choice and does not need to be after school or a week day. If weekends suit then that is when you can run the club. Active Schools can provide lots of support to any parent who is keen to support a club along with funding for courses. If you are interested and have some spare time to devote to establishing a running club please be in touch with Lynne Fraser, Active Schools Coordinator Lynne.Fraser@highlifehighland.com or Mob: 07795825603

The 1st Culloden Boys Brigade are now recruiting for Session 21/22. If your child is aged 6 years old or over then they are eligible to join the company. Anchor boys is for boys in Primary 2 & 3 and is held from 5pm to 6pm every Thursday night in the Barn Church, Culloden.
Every week the boys take part in a variety of activities and learn new skills. They have great opportunities to make friends and have lots of fun whilst also learning about Christian beliefs. Our new session will commence on Thursday 2nd September. For further information please contact Neil MacKenzie on 07919850671 or send an email to Neilandlouise7@aol.com.

We look forward to welcoming you to the company if your child wishes to join us.

Enjoy the following photos. Please look at the words that the children came up with in assembly today about leadership qualities that they aspire to. You have amazing children.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Friday Faces are Happy Faces!

Well done, everyone. We’ve made it to the end of the first week. Routines are back in place, bikes and scooters are in the sheds, learning is happening and teachers are happy! What more could we want? Here are a few photos to give you a flavour of how our week has gone.

Looking forward to a full week next week and seeing all our new staff and young people settled in. Have a great weekend, everyone.

And We’re Back!

Trust this finds everyone well, rested and ready for the new school session ahead. Apologies for delay in sending out information but I’m sending as soon as it has been confirmed from Highland Council.

Click here to see details of where the classes are and which entrances to use. In summary:

All adults to continue wearing masks unless you are wearing an exemption lanyard.

All adults should be 1m away from any other adult and, if possible, only one adult per household in the playground. (P1 parents – feel free to come together as it’s the first day tomorrow – totally understand!)

We’re still not able to have every class lining up in the playground so please make sure you have clicked above to find out where your child’s class is and which entrance you should use.

Children and young people will remain in their ‘treehouses’ but will be able to go between classes within their treehouse. Hopefully with no new cases we will be able to open up more and go back to pairing up classes and learning in creative ways.

We ask you to be vigilant with washing clothes, washing hands and packed lunch boxes, please. Staff will continue to do their testing and if you think there are any of the COVID related symptoms please keep your child at home and follow usual procedures.

Nursery children – line up for The Cabin around the back of the playroom. Butterfly and Rainbow Rooms should line up at the gate nearer the school under the roof shelter.

Parents are still not allowed into school so please bear with us. Drop your child off knowing that the adults in school will be supervising but if you are anxious, please get in touch and we will hopefully be able to reassure you during the day.

We have new staff who have been hard at work over the holidays and especially today setting up classrooms and familiarising themselves with children’s notes. We welcome them and trust they will enjoy working with you and your children.

We will be preparing for extra curricular so that when we get the go ahead to mix the classes then we will be ready. More information to come in September.

One more sleep and then it’s back to school! Looking forward to welcoming you all back and especially welcoming our new parents, carers and young people who have moved into the area over the summer.

See you in the morning!

Aileen Mackay, HT

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