Life in Perspective

There are so many things that annoy us, aren’t there? They small things can grow and fester and before we know it we become really negative about life. Mental well being is not just something to band about – it’s important for every single one of us, young and old alike. Keep talking to each other. One of the things I mentioned earlier in the week was some children accessing images from Ukraine on social media. You may have seen ideas to help you talk with your child to make sense of how things affect them at the moment. I recommend looking at this video as well as reading the webpage but it’s ok to tell your child that we don’t know what is going to happen – because we don’t. Please do let us know if there are worries of any kind that you want to discuss. As I’ve said before, we’re not trained professionals in mental health but we can listen. Life can get into perspective when tragedies happen either in the world or in our families, can’t it? Moaning about the dishes not being done is suddenly not important any more – the fact that I have a warm house with a roof and dishes in my kitchen makes me count my blessings.

On a local, positive note, P5 RJ have been looking at democracy and what this means. P2 and P7 have been sharing their learning, P2 have been preparing their outdoor area for spring and enjoying outdoor learning as well as reading together. The Star Awards are for all sorts this week – look at the certificates to see the wide range of achievements. Well done everyone! Thank you to all parents who are patient with us as we still have staff absences. To my colleagues who are off work at the moment – know you are missed – not just because we need you to work – but you are missed because of who you are and what you mean to us.

Have a good weekend but remember hands, face, space!

Aileen Mackay, HT

Thursday Events Coming Up

A wee reminder about World Book Day tomorrow. Children and young people are free to dress as their favourite book character. There will be a huge emphasis around books and reading for pleasure tomorrow. Why not join in? I say this every year but ditch the housework, tell your boss this is really important and sit back with a book – even for fifteen minutes. Remember to send in photos of you as a family or the young people reading at home to be shared here.

Next Thursday we have a virtual afternoon even running 2pm – 4pm. If you can please join in! Next week sees No Smoking Day where our emphasis will be on remaining healthy and finding diversionary activities. Want to stop or cut down? Want to see what activities are in the area both for young people and adults too? Please join us!

Aileen Mackay, HT

Gaming, Gambling and the Online World

This is an excellent session and I thoroughly recommend all parents and carers to attend:

Gaming, Gambling and the Online World- Webinar for Parents and Carers-Thursday, 17th March 6:30pm-8:00pm

This is a 1.5 hour webinar facilitated by the Scottish Gambling Education Hub in partnership with Highland Council.

The session explores the similarities between online gambling and modern video games, and the associated risks to children and young people.

The webinar will also provide information on where parents and carers can get further resources and support.

The presenters are Donna Brunton, Project Officer (Scottish Gambling Education Hub), Robert Quigley, Collaborative Lead & ICTi Learning, Highland Council & Eliz A MacIntosh, Child Protection, Highland Council.

To maximise privacy and security, we require participants to register on Zoom in advance of the meeting. To do so, please follow this link:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Please have your camera on during the session by clicking on the video icon as the session will have interactive components.

If you are having difficulties joining the meeting, please email Tina, (  who will provide you with assistance.

Fast Forward

4 Bernard Street

Edinburgh EH6 6PP


twitter @fastforward@GamblingEduHub

Bits and Pieces

A parent has sent some information about how we can help Ukrainian families. I checked first that this is not political and have been given clearance to allow this to be posted:

World Book Day is almost upon us again! This Thursday, 3rd March we will see our annual focus on reading for pleasure. As usual, the children are welcome to dress up as a book character if they wish but we know that not all children and young people like to dress up so normal school uniform for those who are not dressing as book characters. If you want to send us photos of your children reading around the house and garden or when out and about please do so and we’ll share them! Why not take 15 minutes yourself and read for pleasure on Thursday with us? I’m sure your line managers won’t mind…. Maybe as a family you could switch off devices for fifteen minutes at some point and spend the time still together but reading rather than looking at your devices….

Talking of devices, there have been a few children looking at images coming from Ukraine on their phones and tablets resulting in nightmares. If the news is on ‘in the background’ be aware that your child can be listening and making assumptions. Please take time to talk through what is happening at the moment and alleviating any fears they may have without giving promises that you can’t keep – we can’t control what we can’t control.

Parent contact with teachers starts from next week so please look out for the survey to complete on Dojo.

And finally, a lovely photo showing one of our P6’s who received a gold medal in her category for ice skating at the weekend. Winter Olympics next??

Aileen Mackay, HT

Busy week for a short week!

Sorry to hear many children and families are feeling poorly at the moment with a variety of illnesses. Please take care and know you are missed.

The photos from the two days are mainly those who received the Learning Council’s stickers for hard work in fulfilling the UNCRC five core rights: be protected, be educated, be healthy, be treated fairly and be heard. Our young people were picked out for, amongst other things, choosing healthy snacks at home and school, helping others in their learning in class, protecting others when friends were sad and upset, for including peers to feel part of a group being treated fairly and being a role model for looking across the playground and seeing where younger people needed support. P2/3’s big question over the last few weeks was ‘Can you still breathe in a land with no trees?’ Have a look at two people’s answers! Engage, empower and enlighten and you will learn.

Here’s to a full week of learning next week!

Aileen Mackay, HT

Schools that play together, learn together

Thanks to the Parent Council for hosting the hopefully last virtual meeting on Tuesday. We’re hoping to be face to face next term but still to have the online facility for those who prefer this. It’s good when we can learn how school is viewed from home as well as school being able to share our evidence, too. I was able to share with those present the real statistics of learning, curriculum and assessment from the school. If you were unable to attend but would like to see the presentation either let me know or you will be able to see it in the minutes when they come out.

It’s great to see classes within their treehouses sharing learning whether it’s younger ones reinforcing their new skills with older children in games or whether it’s older ones being role models so the younger children can see what is expected of them. You’ll see some photos of P2/3 and P6 working together on games the P2 /3 class made reinforcing their two times table.

Another aspect of learning together this year is having focus weeks for the whole school. For example last week we were focusing on young people’s mental health. The Learning Council set a task of finding positive things to do to stay healthy with your well being. They chose Lexie W from P5’s list – again you’ll see it in the photos below.

The winning UNCRC design organised by the Learning Council from a couple of weeks ago has now been made into stickers so as from next week you may find your child has a sticker for showing respect for five of the main UNCRC values: be protected, be educated, be healthy, be treated fairly, be heard. To have these rights means we all need to behave towards others with these values, too. The PSAs got together on Tuesday to list the type of behaviours we will be looking for in the playground as well as in class. We’ll catch them when they’re showing respect.

Many took advantage of snow today and refocused the learning outside yet still maintaining the learning intentions. It was good to see so many in school this week with waterproofs and snow suits so they could remain dry and still splash in puddles. Getting fresh air during the day keeps covid at bay as well as refreshing the brain for the afternoon. We’ve had all weathers this week at lunch time!

Remember there is now no school until Thursday for the children and young people. Holidays Monday and Tuesday with Wednesday as an in service day for staff. Hopefully you can enjoy some family time and you will get better soon if you have been struck down with sickness. Please stay safe and look after each other.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Supporting Your Child

A number of parents are requesting support for a variety of reasons. We’re very glad to listen and help where we can however there are ways of speaking directly with agencies as parents.

If you have a question regarding mental health, communication, attention, parenting advice, etc there is a number you can call. The line is called ‘Just Ask’ and it’s open Tuesdays and Thursdays 1pm – 4pm. Call 03003031365. Someone will answer your call and then a specialist will call you back to hopefully help you.

The Pines website is also very useful for information, training and videos to watch. here’s the latest training opportunity:

We’re really excited to have Tanya Tennant joining us for the next Pines Session. 

Book your place now.  Professionals Click Here to book.  You can also email direct at

Booking is open to parents/carers and professionals within the Highland area.  Let us know the area you work when booking.

                          Thursday 10th March 2022 VIRTUAL PINES SESSION  10.30am-12.30pm  Building Confidence and Reducing Social Isolation with Tanya Tennant Tanya is an autistic trainer and consultant who gives seminars for parents, carers and professionals across Scotland. Thanks to fundraising support, the National Autistic Society Scotland is delighted to welcome Tanya today. The session will look at building confidence in young people, and will have ideas to help social isolation. Tanya is autistic and a mum to autistic young people.    

This promises to be an excellent morning, we hope you can join us.

Kind regards

The Pines Team

Do speak with your child’s teacher, Mr Lyon, DHT or me. we’re here to listen and help point you in the right direction if we can’t find solutions at school.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Love is in the air…

Did you know that Scotland has ‘feeling loved’ as part of the Government’s framework for improvement? We can achieve so much more when we feel secure, loved and confident in who we are. We have ‘relationships’ as the roots of our Vision and Values statement as we know these can make or break attitudes to learning. P6 with Mrs Goodall today were looking at what they love about their school:

Let’s show we love each other by putting others first and then that way, people will also put us first! We need everyone to feel safe, secure and loved at Smithton as we know that is how best your child will learn. The winter months and COVID restrictions are bring down so many of us. Do not struggle on your own. Please contact us and while we have no magic wand or fairy dust we are here to listen, support and try and find agencies to help you if we can’t.

Looking forward to Parent Council meeting tomorrow night. While hopefully this is the last online meeting and we will be able to meet in person next term (please??) having an option to be online will be a feature going ahead. For tomorrow at 6pm, please use this link here.

Aileen Mackay, HT