COVID Update Face Masks

We have been asked to share this with all our parents and carers. Although we don’t have children coming on school transport nor are we a secondary school, it’s important that you see what is coming to all schools so that you know that what might be expected at Culloden Academy is not what is expected in Smithton.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Dear Parent/Carer,

New guidance for face coverings in schools

Yesterday (25 August) the Scottish Government updated their guidance on wearing face coverings in schools. The guidance, which comes into effect for all schools on 31 August, now states:

“In light of the latest scientific and public health advice, including World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, face coverings should now (unless exemptions apply) be worn:

  • in secondary schools, by adults and all pupils moving around the school, such as in corridors and communal areas where physical distancing is difficult to maintain
  • on dedicated school transport by all children aged five and over, bringing it into line with guidance for public transport

While staff and students can continue to wear face coverings if they wish to, face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom as there is greater scope for physical distancing and face coverings can have an impact on learning and teaching. However, it remains the case that where adults cannot keep 2m distance and are interacting face-to-face for a sustained period (about 15 minutes or more), face coverings should be worn”.

Please discuss this with your child and ensure that your child is provided with a reusable face covering to use on bus transport and at school as required in the guidance which comes into effect from Monday 31 August. Pupils should not be sent home for not wearing a face covering and there are some exemptions to the wearing of face coverings. If you have any concerns, please discuss these with your child’s class teacher/Head Teacher.

The safety and wellbeing of all staff and pupils remains a priority. Covid-19 is still with us, although there is currently no evidence of widespread transmission in Highland. We continue to ensure our settings are as safe as possible, all schools take account of their local circumstances and reflect this in detailed risk assessments. Additionally, local project boards continue to run on a weekly basis with a focus on individual school and community issues relating to transport, catering, property & facilities management and digital issues.

The Council is continuing to work closely with Public Health in relation to all health matters and be directed by national guidance. You can view the updated guidance and the Government’s press release on face coverings for further information. Our webpage is continually being updated.

Finally, the Scottish Government has released a helpful video on how to make a face covering.

COVID Update

The Highland Council has asked us to send out frequently asked questions and answers.

Please check these out and if there are any further questions don’t hesitate to contact me directly . Remember not to compare what’s happening here with other schools as we all have unique buildings, grounds and staff levels. If in doubt about anything, contact me. We have also been given a directive that anything COVID related that we want to share on our blogs and other social media must now go through the Communications department in Highland Council for approval. This may mean a slight delay in any information that I have to share with you but it stops the risk of any school saying anything that is not approved by our health experts.

So many of you have said that the video meets were really helpful in allaying fears or being able to ask questions directly so I will be offering a monthly video meet hopefully at a regular time, one during the day and the other in the evening to hopefully reach as many as possible. I’m just readjusting my diary to allow me to have regular slots for you so that you know it will always be the first Wednesday of the month, etc. I’ll be back in touch by the end of the week.

A huge thank you to all those who are wearing face masks or are able to stand 2m away from other adults while waiting for your children. It’s not easy, is it? We appreciate it’s a worrying time as there are so many with coughs and colds resulting in many being tested for COVID-19. Thankfully, so far, all results back are negative. You are making the right decisions by keeping your child off if you are in doubt. Your family’s health is by far more important than anything else at the moment but staff are working really hard to assess learning and give confidence to your children at their levels. Any child absent will receive help on return to school but not while recuperating at home.  Your children remain a credit to you as the vast majority really understand what needs to be done to keep everyone safe – thank you for all you are doing at home.

Keep on keeping on and remain safe.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Vote now for our very own ‘Lockdown Legend’

In case you missed the announcement in the press on Friday, our very own Mrs Mackay  has been nominated for a national award recognising the support she gave to the whole community during lockdown.

Although the very last person to wish to draw attention to herself in this way, we are delighted that her dedication and hard work have been recognised.  You can read the full article here:

If you would like to add your vote for our truly caring and committed head teacher, you can do so via this link:

Good luck Mrs Mackay.  We all think the world of you!


Friday Round Up

If you are a parent or carer for P1 Ms Blair’s class we want to trial a slightly different way of lining up in the morning to allow parents and carers to physically distance safely. There will be a member of staff there on Monday to guide you. Just come in the same way as it’s just a slight change.

Thank you to all parents and carers for trying to stay 2m away from all adults. It’s not easy, is it? Please continue to stay physically distanced so we all remain safe. Your children have been amazing this week – so responsible from the youngest to the oldest making sure hands are washed regularly and respecting as much of a distance from staff as they can. I have set them a challenge of coming up with a Smithton Greeting now we can’t hug each other or want to show we care. A few brilliant ideas already!


mud kitchen

A massive thank you to Matilda’s grandad who made our nursery (ELC) two mud kitchens. Who needs Mississippi Mud Pies when you can have Smithton ones!


Parents of children in nursery: do you fancy getting together with other parents to look at strategies to help you with your family? Have a look at this letter from the Family Team. Jo and Lauren are keen to meet with you click on – peep blog

We had our first virtual assembly today – a few technical issues but it was lovely to see the classes waving at each other and to hear all the teachers announce the first of the star award winners. As we all have to leave at 3.30pm and work from home I don’t have all the photos from the classes yet so here are a few and the rest will appear on Monday.

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Don’t panic when you see the following photo….



Don’t worry – P5 RJ haven’t fallen asleep – they are practising strategies for overcoming worries or anxieties they may have. This will stand them in good stead for life – as one staff member said today to a child, ‘If you have got through lockdown – and you have, you can face the future in confidence.’ We all need to build resilience, know that we’ve got it in us to solve problems and learn to breathe, staying calm.

Have a good weekend. Stay safe and know you are loved.

Aileen Mackay, HT


COVID-19 Update

Please see the following from Highland Council:

We are aware that positive cases of Covid-19 can cause some local anxiety in the community. Please be reassured that our Health Protection Team is working closely with colleagues within the Highland Council to continually monitor the situation in Highland. Guidance has been provided to teachers in all our schools regarding any incidence of Covid-19 or similar symptoms within the school community.


Pupils and staff should not attend school if any symptoms develop. Please inform the school.


The key message is don’t go to school or work if you are ill


For most people, Covid-19 will be a mild illness. If you develop symptoms you should remain self-isolating at home for 10 days from the date when your symptoms appeared, even if this takes you over the 14 day period currently advised.


Anyone with symptoms will be eligible for testing and further information on testing can be found on NHS Inform. In the event that you develop symptoms, all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.


The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:


  • new continuous cough and/or
  • high temperature and/or
  • a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)


There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with COVID-19



  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards


Please also follow the five rules that are highlighted in the national FACTS campaign –


  • Face coverings in enclosed spaces
  • Avoid crowded places indoors or outdoors
  • Clean your hands regularly and remember to clean hard surfaces that you might be touching
  • Two metre physical distancing remains in place – this is especially important at the school gates when dropping off or collecting your children.
  • Self-isolate and book a test if you have any of the symptoms of Covid19 – a cough, a temperature, or a loss of, or change in your sense of taste or smell


There is evidence of increasing transmission across Scotland. Covid19 is still here and it is important that everyone takes responsibility and follows the national guidance to keep them and others safe. Everyone in Highland, Argyll and Bute has a role to play to keep the number of positive cases as low as possible.


Best wishes,



Fiona Shearer

South Area Manager

Education & Learning


Find me on Twitter – @EQIMSouthHC

Back to Business

So far, children and young people are safe, secure and confident to learn. What a pleasure to see learning in all sorts of ways taking place. All staff have worked so hard this week to sneak in assessments through play and activity as well as being mindful of the pandemic. Kitchen staff have adjusted things already and have been able to respond to our requests. A fantastic team working together: parents, young people and staff. Long may this continue. The following photos came from P2 yesterday – concentration and determination to get back to business.

Have a good weekend and be ready for our first full week since the beginning of March!

Aileen Mackay, HT

A Few Points

We had some photos from the school yesterday so let’s see some children from the nursery today!

We appreciate the nursery start/end of the session takes a while but it was quicker today than yesterday so hopefully once we get into the routine the time taken will be reduced further. Also when we have all your surveys and can get the flexibility up and running we will have fewer people starting and finishing all at the same time.

You will recall that I have said to try and focus only on what is happening at Smithton as our building and staff are unique to other schools. Similarly, the rules for early years, primary and secondary are all different so what happens at Culloden Academy does not necessarily follow in Smithton e.g. children can change for PE at Smithton as many choose to change in the class and each treehouse has its own set of toilets and there is no need for physical distancing in early years and P1.

Can I take this opportunity to thank parents who have contacted the school to thank us for our organisation and care of individuals. It’s good to know when things are not going well so we can rectify them and just as good to hear when things are going well so we can do more of them!

I want to thank Austin also for taking the time to make this video to help us all with our ‘getting home’ routine.  Please share with your children! Thank you to those who made posters to go round the school, too.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any queries or worries.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Happy First Day Back!

We’ve had a great day, overall and not only did the rain stay away but the sun shone! I overheard a nursery child and his dad outside my room chatting about their days.

‘Do you want to come again tomorrow?’ says dad.

‘Can I really?’ says the child.

Here’s hoping we all feel like that tomorrow, too!

I hope all our P7 leavers, now S1 have had a great day too. Definitely Culloden’s gain to have such a spirited group of young people! Well done to Aiden who ran his 150km and raised £2365 – thank you to all who sponsored Aiden.

Jim Lyon

Many of you will know that I do extra work for the council around students, newly qualified teachers and working with universities. Much of this work is done in my own time but I should be getting a day a week to do this. Mrs West, our Depute Head Teacher is cutting down his days and will be working Monday – Thursday only until Christmas so the council has asked Mr Jim Lyon to be an additional Depute Head Teacher for the school until then. He will cover classes and also lead on certain projects within the school, too. Please welcome him if you see him in the playground or your child’s class.

We got some assessments done today and we’re confident that you have all done an amazing job working with your children at home. I hope you’ve had a good day and not missed your children too much. It has been so rewarding to work with them today as a member of staff said,’ A wee reminder why we came into this job’.

Take care and remain safe. Please wash out packed lunch boxes thoroughly, wipe down bags and wash clothes where possible.

See you in the morning!

Aileen Mackay, HT

Final Update (Last Night’s Title…!)

Welcome back everyone – we’re open and website/blog now unlocked!

This is the link to the nursery survey to choose your hours from the first week in September. The sooner everyone puts in their hours the sooner we can get the rotas drawn up. Thank you!

There will be plenty of adults in and around the school grounds this morning to help you if you get lost or have forgotten where your child’s class is. You will also see some P7s at each class entrance with a sign saying the teacher’s name and class. If you are 5 minutes late or less please go straight to the classroom and not the foyer.

We want to welcome a number of new families to the school community and wish you all well!

Please remember we have some juice/water and hankies in the community room if you need some space before you go home or drive away. This is an emotional day for many of us.

Update from classes: children settled and learning from nursery to P7. We may have to change a few organisational things to make things run more smoothly but we will keep you updated.

Have a good day.

Aileen Mackay, HT


Update School and ELC Return

Nursery (ELC) will return on Wednesday 12th August. We are offering sessions of either 8.30am -11.30 am or 12.00pm-3.00pm until Friday 4th September. All parents were sent a letter with this information at the start of the summer holidays. Your letter will have indicated if you have been allocated a morning or afternoon place. If you did not receive this information please contact Mrs Stuart by email

From Monday 7th September we will be able to offer flexible hours from 8.30 am-5.30 pm based on 16 government funded hours.

Please complete the questionnaire as soon as possible to request your hours. This will enable us to plan staffing arrangements. I can’t get it to upload tonight so will post on the update tomorrow.

School lunches

Click below to get the menu for lunches. £2.30 per day for P4-7 unless you are eligible for free school meals and a clothing grant.


Special_Diet_Request_Form Please use this form if you require special diets for your child and you haven’t already done so.

Administering of medicines form issued tomorrow here.

Contact this week

I will endeavour to reply to all phone messages and emails but trying to get the school re opened and ensuring staff are all safe is taking up time. Please know that I will get to your call as soon as I can.

Weather Forecast

Looks not only like rain but thunder and lightning around 9am on Wednesday morning! Virus and storms…nothing will stop us at Smithton! We will have a relaxed start to Wednesday in light of this so if you want to come just on the bell and end up being a couple of minutes late don’t worry. Just head to the fire exit of the classroom and the teacher will let you in. For nursery parents, if it is pouring, please make sure your child is suitably dressed as the chances are we will still be heading outside at various points. You might want to have an umbrella yourselves as there may be a wait to get into the building….

Juice boxes and hankies will still be available rather than tea and coffee for any parent who is finding it emotional leaving their child at school. Please come to the front of the school and we will have someone there to help you settle before you go home or onto work.

Two more sleeps!

Aileen Mackay, HT