COVID-19 Latest – and Star Awards

Apologies for no blogpost on Friday with photos but I was waiting to see what would happen with COVID-19 so you didn’t need to open two separate messages.

Certain staff and young people remain ill and we all hope for a speedy recovery for them. Nearly all have had lesser symptoms and I know some of you have been anxious for their health. We have had one or two children taken to hospital for short spells but all are doing well. However – we can’t be complacent. Just this morning a child who was negative on Friday has returned a positive result today. We are indebted to NHS and all who protect us – we can never stop saying this.

While I have to gather the absences, etc and pass on to health professionals and while Kim the Cleaner comes during the day as well as the cleaning team working hard each night, the clerical staff do an amazing job. Mrs Matheson for three days a week organises the clerical side for nursery, for orders and many other tasks, as well as answering the door and responding to staff and young people that come to the office. While she is doing that, Mrs Cornish is answering the phone to all. She is the first port of call to the school for many of you other than email and Dojo. Have you ever seen her in a flap? At the moment, on a daily basis to save me looking up our database system she compiles the daily absences, including new COVID cases. If it weren’t for Mrs Cornish I’d be struggling even more. I can concentrate on making sure the right teacher or PSA or EYP is in the right class at the right time. I then have time to have all the right information for the health team so they can make a decision about how to keep your children safe. The school gave Mrs Cornish some flowers on Friday to thank her and to acknowledge all our thanks in how she is playing her part to keeping us all safe. It is so important to stop, look around and acknowledge each other either as families, colleagues or classmates. Every person is integral in making things work either at home, school or work. Let’s make it our determination as we go into a new week to notice and thank those around us. (Do you say thank you for whoever makes your meal? Or makes sure there’s clean clothes? Or who puts the bin out from the staffroom?!)

A huge thank you to P4-7 parents who managed to juggle work and home to allow the children to finish at 2.30pm. We have only one or two staff coming back and now others are off so I have been given permission again from the council to finish P4-7 classes at 2.30pm for this week. I don’t know the future but the probability would be back to 3pm next week going on who is absent and who would be back, based on symptoms and illnesses. Again I will be in the playground from 2.30pm if circumstances mean it’s easier for you as a family that way.

COVID-19 has, at last, really started to attack the nursery. There are lots of staff off as well as young people. You may find that this week it’s not the usual staff but we’re keeping open, as long as the health team lets us and as long as I can find staff to cover. If you have not got yourself onto the ELC Google Classroom yet please contact me directly Often decisions by the health team are taken in the evening so it’s better to tell you all at once what is happening as you can imagine if I started to phone individuals at 9pm someone would have to have the call at 11pm by the time I would get around everyone.

Here are last week’s star awards. Fewer as some classes were isolating on Friday…stay strong, everyone and remain vigilant for this virus – hands, face, space.

Aileen Mackay, HT

COVID-19 Update

I’m still waiting for clearance to allow P2/3, P4JM and P7 AN to come back to school on Monday. You will be alerted by me through Class Dojo as soon as the email comes in to me. Until then, the youngsters need to remain in isolation. Some who tested negative yesterday are testing positive today, including teaching staff so there will be some more changes for next week:

As you know from Friday’s blog post I am determined to keep classes open to help with continuity of learning, routine and links to positive mental health for your children as well as allowing you to keep working.

To be able to keep Smithton open to all classes I can do it if all P4-7 children leave at 2.30pm Monday 14th – Friday 18th. I shall make myself available in the playground 2.30pm daily so that if you want your child to remain on school premises until 3pm then they will have access to me there. However, if possible, it would really help if your child could come home half an hour early each day next week.

If you have younger children who finish at 2.45pm we can be flexible to accommodate them leaving at the same time. Children being picked up for after school clubs would remain in the playground with me until 3pm.

As parents and carers you have been incredible partners, particularly over the last two years and I can’t thank you enough for your patience. Despite everything, your children are learning and achieving and this doesn’t happen by accident: parental engagement coupled with outstanding staff attitude is a great combination.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Resilient Community

What a week of illnesses and worries. We’ve clapped for the NHS and, once again, I’m in awe of the work that they do when I know some of my young people have needed medicine and support this week. If I’ve been worried sick how must their families have felt! Illness is an emotional drain as well…and inevitably the kids bounce back while we’re still recovering from the sleepless nights!

But we did it. We kept the school open and all staff doubled up doing a variety of jobs around the school. Hopefully we can remain open next week but please continue to be vigilant – COVID is not on its way out in our area with three classes having to work from home today. As ever, this is a team that cares and goes the extra mile – thank you everyone. It does mean that usual communication hasn’t been as great. Please continue to bear with us as we catch up and contact you back.

We couldn’t manage our usual assembly this morning so not all Star Awards have come to me – we’ll get them onto the blog next week but we have a few. A cracker this week is Layla in P5 who ‘cashed in’ her Dojo points to be ‘class teacher for the day’. While I would take her on in a heart beat (watch out Mrs Mitchell) she made it clear that teaching wasn’t for her – she’d rather work with animals! We have some great measuring and a super picture from Aria who has been stuck at home this week – but working hard reading up about women who changed the world on International Women’s Day on Tuesday. Mrs Stevenson is, as usual, playing. She calls it drawing out learning by learning through play. Aye. Life is good as a PSA at Smithton! A great moment was shared by the House Captains over at the site of The Haven on Wednesday as I shared during the week. What a privilege to be part of history and a legacy for the future in our community.

Enjoy the longer daylight but please keep covering your face around the school, staying two metres where possible and stay safe together.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Smithton – A Great Community!

What a privilege for the House Captains to be part of the first digging of the foundations of the new building project across the road from the school. Many of you have been raising money and/or awareness (remember painting sunflowers on stones last year??) for The Haven – a place where there will be respite, job opportunities and activities for many vulnerable people. Nine years they have been working away to make this happen. Believe – you will achieve!
Smithton Primary is aiming for a smoke free generation by the year 2034 when the current youngsters will be adults.

You many know that today was No Smoking Day in Scotland. For the last three years we have raised awareness around the school on this day but as The Haven had a big celebration today we have left our event until tomorrow. We have an event that all friends, relatives and school are invited to tomorrow – virtually. Imagine walking around a market, browsing stalls and asking the stall holder questions about their product…we’ve tried to produce something like this but virtually! Instead of walking around, you can sit at home with a cuppa and click on the various icons and then engage with the presenters who will be sitting and waiting to chat with you.

So, Thursday at 2 – 4pm there will be live music with a young, Highland musician who will talk about how getting into hobbies and clubs can help you avoid getting into bad habits… never giving up and practising hard. From 2.15pm onwards there will be presenters ready to discuss their local charity, work or club – everything from The Good Food project in the area to adult learning, sports clubs for kids, how to get involved in family walks and we even have a group of P7s presenting on some of the things they have learned in their substance awareness lessons which go throughout the school. Join in at any point – it’s a drop in, drop out event but if you can, join us as at 2pm to listen to James playing and click on the icons to have a chat with presenters.

Click here:

Please join us as a local community but feel free to send on the link to friends and family across the world who might want to join us when normally they wouldn’t be able to. Need to find the positive in all these restrictions!

Aileen Mackay, HT

Safety First

There are a number of staff absences this week for a variety of reasons. Your child may have a different teacher or PSA this week and you won’t see me at 8.45 beside the car park. If anyone is parked in a dangerous place please just take the number plate and contact the police on 101.

I urge you to continue to be patient as we try and keep the school open.

Aileen Mackay, HT

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