COVID Update from Highland Council

You will see the date is 9th December but was only disseminated to certain schools, ours included, today.

Can I take this opportunity to thank the vast majority of all of our parents and carers who are putting everyone in our community first by continuing to wear masks, by remaining socially distanced and keeping your children at home if they have any symptoms. It is vital as we head into the holidays that we continue to do what we can for each other.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Photos this time

…sorry – no idea what I did/didn’t press last night – here’s the slideshow now, hopefully!

Hopefully the weather is good for the Torchlight Nativity tomorrow at 5pm. Enjoy!

Aileen Mackay, HT

Christmas Hope

We’ve had a few children end up in Raigmore this week due to this awful tummy bug but thankfully no one has had to stay in – just get rehydrated. Thank you, NHS once again, for looking after our young ones! We hope everyone is improving – staff and children- as our attendance this week has been decimated.

For those of us who were here it was a case of learning and figuring out answers to big questions such as how did the pyramids get built and what causes big ships to sink. By expecting the young people to work through enquiry means they are more engaged and more likely to find out answers for themselves. We hope that through learning skills of enquiry at all ages at Smithton we will be problem solvers, will be keen to find out answers and will gain more knowledge about a wide range of subjects.

Chief Cook Ms Nicol and her team made an amazing Christmas Lunch today! Look in the slideshow for the quality of food – Masterchef here they come! There was turkey and all the trimmings as well as a lentil and oat loaf followed by mince pies, Christmas tree biscuits and ice cream or fruit. P7s and staff served the school and did a terrific job. Between the team work of the kitchen staff and the waiters/waitresses it all ran very slickly. As there were many Christmas jumpers, tinsel, hair grips and Rudolf antlers and with P7 DJ keeping the music going it set us in the mood to party so there were people dancing to the music – and outside there were strip the willows happening spontaneously! There are a few photos showing the conga and strip the willow.

Eva and Millie made a paper chain this week..look out for it in the slideshow…guess how many loops?? Check out the marvel comic snowflakes as well – it’s amazing what you can find on the internet. There’s also a photo of Isla enjoying the freedom last Friday night having been part of the class that had to isolate who were then free to get ‘back to normal’ where she went exploring the lights of Inverness. Star awards were great this week, as always, and the young people are always to grateful to be nominated.

Have a good weekend and, as ever, stay safe and look out for each other. Your children remain precious to us and we are hopeful for their growth, development and fulfilling their potential.

Aileen Mackay, HT

How many more sleeps??

Watch this wee video of Ava telling her story…and wait for the joke at the end – my kind of laughs…and I think Gnoma would like it, too!

Christmas has crept up on us! Next week sees the infants finalising their nativity play that will be filmed and then given a premier 21st December where you can ‘stream live’ on the blog here. Also on Friday 10th (next Friday) we will be having our Christmas lunch at school and wearing Christmas jumpers alongside many businesses and schools in the MFR area. Please do not go and buy a jumper if your child doesn’t have one – just decorate with a piece of tinsel or add a Christmas badge…or just wear the school jumper. If you have jumpers that are too wee please send them in and we can use. School lunch is exactly the same price and we are not asking you to donate money for wearing the jumpers as we have already asked for poppies and children in need this term. If you want to donate then please do so to MFR Cash for Kids.

Parties: 16th – P6, P6/7 P7; 17th P4, P5; 20th P2, P2/3, P3; 21st P1, P1/2; 22nd ELC

Notice about a Christmas community event – all welcome:

I thank you again for your patience with us and our communication. We have a number of staff absences which means everything runs more slowly but we’re trying to ensure that action takes place for the young people and that learning remains as undisturbed as possible. As ever, we are indebted to staff covering and going beyond duty – everyone here is determined to work hard and achieve as much as possible with and for your children. It’s a real privilege to work with you as families.

As you inevitably start shopping and getting the last few bits and pieces stay calm, friendly and positive as you shop. Bring Smithton cheer wherever you go and let’s keep the reason for the season first and foremost in our minds! Stay safe and protect each other.

Aileen Mackay, HT

Parent Council Minutes

You can find the latest minutes, AGM report and HT report here on the Parent Council page of our website. Thanks to the staff and parents who give up their time to attend these meetings and also to the vast number of parents and friends of the school that volunteer when specific tasks are required. Every parent is part of the Parent Forum so everyone should feel safe and welcome to air their views and suggestions. The Parent Council exists so that it can represent everyone’s views so if the Council asks for any thoughts please do contribute.

We also like to make sure that there are people represented from all areas of the catchment area who can come to occasional meetings. Even if you can’t come to a meeting you can still share your views and they will appear in the minutes and actions.

For the last fourteen years the parents have influenced the curriculum through choosing British Sign Language as the second language taught here, the Religious and Moral Education programme, sex and relationships policy, the promoting positive relationships and anti bullying policy, social studies and science programmes; substance awareness policy, overseeing the new build project, raising huge amounts of money for playground equipment (should be coming next week!) and transport for class experiences…and the list goes on!

As Fiona Devlin hands over the responsibility I want to say a personal thanks to her for her support, diligence and utter hard work through the pandemic to keeping open lines of communication. She has been a remarkable link between school and parents and I can’t thank her enough.

On a different note: please be patient with us as we cope with staff absences and no cover. Invariably it means staff are covering for each other meaning when they are out of class they can’t get the work done they are supposed to…and obviously that includes me too as I’m covering classes, PSA and nursery. This isn’t meant to provide excuses but just a reminder that we, too, are going through the pandemic and might not get back to you as quickly as we would like or you are used to. Thank you, in advance, for your patience!

Aileen Mackay, HT

I guess winter is upon us…

What a bitterly cold day today but we’re made of strong stuff at Smithton – out playing and learning regardless! Thank you to all families for making sure gloves, hats and scarves also have their names in them!

Unfortunately the weather is to turn for the worse early evening and so we are having to cancel Funky Friday club for P7s tonight – sorry guys – but we don’t want to encourage you to be outside tonight and it would be quite nice if both Andrew and I got home safely, too.

If you know of someone who is looking to start nursery or school for the first time please pass on these dates: P1 enrolment is 31st January – 4th February and nursery enrolment is 14th February to 18th February.

Thanks to everyone for your patience this week with so many staff absences we’ve been a little slower getting back to you if you have tried to communicate with us. Maybe a good thing about the cold snap is that some of the bugs will be killed off and we’ll all be back to health and strength! A number of our young people have been absent, too. Please know that we will help them catch up when they are fit and well. We don’t just teach a curriculum – we try to meet the needs of every child in our care at the point of his/her learning.

Every term staff have to submit how well your child has been doing to me and I can see at a glance how things are going. This is then followed through with class teachers, Mr Lyon and me so that we can support class teachers to have the right resources and time to get things right in the classroom. Getting back into classrooms to monitor has meant that we can have meaningful conversations about individuals so it’s such a great privilege to be a part of your child’s learning journey from nursery to P7.

Enjoy the photos this week: homework, star awards, autumn and nature amongst other things. Your children really are growing in maturity as well as their learning. Stay safe, warm and dry this weekend!

Aileen Mackay, HT

Coughs and colds…But we’re still learning!

What a week for young people and staff absences! We hope you are all beginning to feel better as each person is missed when you are absent. It’s strange as it’s a fairly big staff and a fairly big number of young people at Smithton yet you can tell when even one person is missing. A huge thanks to staff who all mucked in to help out across the school – what a great team. For our young people coming back after being off sick – it can be tricky as you can feel immediately left out or worried that your friends will have made friends with other people without you. This is normal! Parents and carers, you can help by reassuring your child that coming back and getting ‘stuck in’ straight away is the best thing to do.

For the rest of us we have played with Pudsey, smiled and said, ‘Smelly Socks,’ read, counted, shared our views, solved problems, learned from each other, received Star Awards, read to friends and younger children, practised our sounds, division skills and estimated lengths of flight paths! See Florian’s feat of engineering here! Never a dull moment, that is for sure. Out of school Ross has amassed loads of badges in the BBs – well done, Ross. A reminder that school isn’t everything – we learn every moment of every day at home, at school, out of school clubs, with families and friends and children learn what they see…no pressures being a parent, are there?!

Have a good weekend and enjoy the full moon and skies over the next few days.

Aileen Mackay, HT