The Big Pedal/ Scoot-a-thon

On your marks, get set …… GO!  We are planning to participate in the Sustrans Big Pedal 2021, the UK’s largest inter-school cycling, walking and scooting challenge. We shall take part from 26 – 30 April and are looking to have as many of us as possible from Smithton Primary School to be involved.

On each day of the challenge, schools compete to see who can record the greatest number of pupils, staff and parents who either cycle, scoot or walk to school.  By taking part, our school will enter a draw to win some great prizes!

The Big Pedal 2021 is a great way to get more of our pupils travelling actively to school and is a simple way to boost their physical and mental health.  It is also a good chance for us to help our pupils to understand the importance of environmentally-friendly travel.

Throughout the week, pupils will be given the chance to take part in some ‘Scoot-a-thons’ in our playground.

All you need to do is encourage your child(ren) to cycle, walk or scoot to school on as many days as possible during next week, and if you can, join them on their way.

Please remind your children about bicycle safety, including the use of a helmet.

Let’s have fun and get active together!

Welcome Back!

Welcome to our new pupils and their families in nursery and the school and welcome back to everyone else. We’re delighted to be back for the next ten weeks and will continue to try meeting the needs of each individual in each class. We urge you to keep up with the homework and extra ideas your child’s teacher gives you to do together. Have fun while you learn!

Head teacher’s weekly learning summary – click here

P3 has a new teacher this term – Ms Ashley Mackay as Mr Speakman has retired. If you see her in the playground, do give her a warm Smithton welcome!

April Pranks and Easter Holidays

There were a number of April Fool pranks today – good fun had by all – both young people and staff!

What wasn’t a prank was that this was Mr Speakman’s last day before retiring from teaching. We had a lovely assembly today where he was awarded a Star Award from every class – all for different reasons. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone more chuffed to get a Star Award before!

We wish Mr Speakman a happy and fulfilling retirement and trust that he will come and see us soon as a supply teacher. He has provided rich learning experiences over the last fifteen years and been dedicated to this community. His final words to us in assembly? Show kindness in all you do and communicate clearly with each other.

P6 wanted to share their expressive arts this week. It’s so important to be able to express yourself and using Kandinsky as a style of art the class really understood the essence of this. Well done!

P5 LM also shared their percussion added to Wellerman’s sea shanty. Watch here and see if you can keep the beat as well as P5! Both classes had a terrific time with Feis Ros and were commended for their engagement despite it all being remote learning. Who knew that we would be engaging with music via a screen and the internet…

What a term. For some of you work has dried up. For others you are snowed under and working flat out. Between us all we are nurturing our families and keeping loved ones going when times get tough. One thing is we trust with the change in the season that it brings hope. When we see the new births in the fields, the leaves bursting out of branches and hearing the birds chirping away in the bright nights it reminds us that our planet is a fantastic place and how resilient it is, despite what we are doing to it. Let’s keep focusing on being there for each other, looking after our environment and doing our bit and investing in the young people in our community.

For those of you who will be celebrating the Christian festival of Easter I trust you will find peace and comfort together. For those of you taking this opportunity for a spring break I trust you will find peace and comfort together.

Next term we will continue to put your children and their well being as a focus as only when there is positive well being can there be true learning. The knowledge, understanding and skills will continue to be developed at the pace that suits your child as much as we can and we know that working together with parents who are continuing to work with their children at home that real progress is being made.

As ever, a huge thank you to all staff for all they do to remain determined and creative in how they provide learning opportunities for the children. Enjoy each other’s company as families and I wish everyone some rest and lots of play in the next two weeks.

Happy hols!

Aileen Mackay, HT

Adventure Trail for the month of April!

Before you look at the adventure trail around Culloden please take a note of this code if you want to find out more about Seasons for Growth. Come and join Lauren on Wednesday night 7pm – 8pm to have any of your questions answered.

Here’s a reminder of her information from last week:

Here’s the code to join and have questions answered:

A Week of Reflection

It’s been everywhere this week – a reminder of how our last 52 weeks have been but your children, while still processing life changes, are settling and trying to get back into the routine of learning together. Life in a primary school continues: friends falling out, people caring for others, older children beginning to think seriously about moving on and parents beginning to get jittery about their wee ones coming to school! Staff remain focused and determined, slipping assessments into every activity to ensure learning is meaningful and progressive but they are so deserving of a holiday.

Enjoy some photos in our gallery today from Star Award winners to Sunflower Van Gogh interpretations, photos showing outdoor learning and Marie Curie/COVID-19 reflections in classes. Out of school there is a great photo of a brother and sister running with active schools – well done!

Have a good weekend,

Aileen Mackay, HT

A Year On…

As we are reminded this is the anniversary of the first call to stay at home because of COVID-19. It has been some year with many of you having direct contact with someone who had/has the virus, have lost your jobs, have felt the sharp edge of mental ill health and who have suffered in various other ways. As the Smithton School whole team we continue to reach out to you and will help in as many ways as we can. There are many things we can’t do but if we can help we always try.

Highland Council has asked everyone to have a minute’s silence at 12 noon today but this time is problematic for us with nursery finishing lunches and infants starting, etc. We had already planned sessions in every class today so we will continue with that and, where possible, will observe the silence at some point. Staff will be donating to Marie Curie today but there is no expectation that young people will be. If young people want to wear yellow today then they are welcome otherwise school uniform as much as possible. (Thank you to those who donated school clothes that had been outgrown and to those who donated cash when picking up new clothes – nealry £60 on Thursday!)

You will have read over the last couple of years about Seasons for Growth – a programme that we run here about change, loss and bereavement for groups of children – never more needed than now. We also have an parent/carer programme that we run which can be for individuals or small groups of parents depending on what you feel comfortable with. We are the only school in Highland that provides the adult Seasons programme and all adults who have received the training at Smithton have been hugely encouraged by the confidence it brings to talk with their children and to clarify their thoughts. And the other main benefit: the children do better with their learning. Lauren, from the PEF Family Team, has created a short video presentation to tell you more. Please click here to see it and remember to click on ‘present’ at the top right hand side to see the presentation from the start with the voice over. There will be a Q&A virtual session Wednesday 31st March at 7pm for anyone who would like to find out more. A link will come out on the blog early next week. If you would prefer to have a session during the day when your children are at school please contact Lauren directly

Have a good Tuesday knowing that together, as always at Smithton, we stand united and put the children first. No virus is going to defeat our youth or deny their learning. As ever, a massive thank you to all keyworkers connected to our school for the ongoing work you do, for the staff here who protect your children daily and who teach with passion and commitment.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Super Powers at Smithton: Healthy and Caring!

Thank you to all those who were able to give a donation today – team work meant that we will be able to send £330 to Comic Relief. It is greatly appreciated how everyone in this community, despite current circumstances, still thinks of other people.

We are the proud winners again of the Substance Awareness Award from all over the Highlands! This is a huge achievement which engages everyone across the school. Healthy bodies and healthy minds will lead to quality learning. So delighted and proud of the school’s achievements in creating diversionary activities as well as tackling the issues in class at all levels.
Delighted to be winners of a new book out as well – Inverness Tax Assist Accountants sponsored EQSports to create well being journals and some of our lovely parents voted for Smithton to receive some. Having the most votes we were able to receive 30 copies free. Thank you all so much for your votes. We will be looking to see how best to use them across the school.

It has been good to see people relax more after Monday’s return for us all to the school building. Some people were just so pleased to be back seeing friends while others had enjoyed learning in the peace and quiet at home. We hope to take all children’s views forward into thinking for future learning so that we can take the best from ‘lock down’ and bring this into school. It was so good to see everyone on screen in their classes for assembly this morning. I hope you’ve all had a good week and not missed your children too much! We’ve certainly enjoyed having them here. They continue to be a credit to you and where there are things to work out, it’s good that we can talk and work together for your children.

We are very fortunate with the school meals that we have at Smithton. Ms Nicol and her team do a fantastic job and really know your children well. Dietary needs are catered for in a caring way and staff work really hard to encourage your children to eat a variety and to try new things. Save this link as it will let you know what’s for lunch after the Easter holidays.

Healthy bodies, healthy minds: that’s what our focus has been all week. What the staff are great at doing is sneaking in assessments that just look like fun to the young people. I can’t thank them enough for their creativity around how they get the best out of your children. We have a couple of teaching students at the moment and one of them said to me today that she was in awe of the class teacher and how she knew just how to turn the activity into an assessment of the child’s learning and find learning opportunities in everything. Feedback so far has been positive between staff and parents about how the virtual meetings have gone, especially with P4-7 having the young person there and taking ownership for their learning. From nursery to P7 we have witnessed engagement and hard work throughout. I’ll give them the weekend off….and then it’s back to it on Monday morning. Can’t wait!

Enjoy the beaming smiles of the Star Award winners and the super heroes today. Have a great weekend but please continue to follow the restrictions…we’re getting there. A continued thank you to all our keyworker parents, carers and community who are keeping us all going.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Dress Up, Dress Down!

Dress up….remember there will be ‘lost property’ in the playground from 2.30pm today and also a school wear sale where you can give a donation to school funds to pick up some school clothes.

Dress down….tomorrow is Comic Relief and remember we asked that the children would dress down and donate £1 in an envelope. There are various activities organised for throughout the day and you may wish to help your child be creative in thinking about what his/her super power would be as that will be an activity! (Having worked with your children since they came back after the second lock down we know your superpower is patience to do everything – work from home, keep everyone calm and make sure the children’s learning was done, too!)

Dress in white/yellow….Tuesday 23rd March is the anniversary of the first day of lock down 2020 and is designated to Marie Curie charity who kept families supported throughout the year and going forward, too. We are going to have a few activities during the day at school around finding the positives in what we learned about ourselves and each other during the pandemic and how we need to keep following the regulations to keep us all safe. We are not asking for any donations on Tuesday as the staff will be giving to the charity but if your child wants to wear yellow or white they are welcome to do so. Staff will be raiding their wardrobes to find yellow and white, too.

Enjoy the sunshine today!

Aileen Mackay, HT

‘The Biggies’ are Back!

A beautiful sunny start to the day today with all classes back and getting stuck in to learning with each other again.

A few people have grown out of their uniforms – we will have our uniform sale in the playground on Thursday from 2.30pm where you can pick up clothes for free or give the school a small donation. We will also have ‘lost property’ so do either come and have a look or get your child to check for missing clothes.

Hope all are having a peaceful day – we’re certainly delighted to be having a buzzing day again!

Aileen Mackay, HT