Letter To Parents/Carers – December 2023

Dear Parent/Carer,
As Christmas fast approaches, it has been a time for us all to reflect on the school year so far. It has been a rollercoaster of a term filled with deeply sad times but also incredibly happy times. As always the Orchard Brae community pulls together through the good and the bad and we end the year on a high with our successful school show. The introduction of the stage made a real difference to our performance, with pupils, staff and parents enjoying the view.
This term many exciting activities both in and out of school have taken place, the big run for our P6 pupils, trips to the theatre, theatre companies visiting school, standing bikes, Santa’s grotto, to name but a few! I can honestly say I think we all need a well-earned break.
Next year we have two exciting projects that will hopefully see the installation of our outdoor classroom and our memorial tree. The school have been working closely with Fairhurst over the past 2 years to secure an outdoor classroom and we intend to “break ground” in February (weather permitting) with the full installation starting in the Easter holidays. The school is very grateful to Bob McCracken and Stuart Thompson of Fairhurst who have made this project possible.
The school is also working with NESCol in Fraserburgh, who will be designing and constructing our memorial tree. Some of the SLT visited the college last week and saw some of the wonderful work of the engineering department and are thrilled to be partnered with them to deliver such an important addition for the Orchard Brae community. The outdoor area just left of the gate as you come in will be the site of our tree and be at the centre of our “Garden of Memories”, which we hope to develop in partnership with the parks department and others.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all, pupils, parents, friends and staff of Orchard Brae for your continued support and wish you and your loved ones a restful Christmas and a New Year that brings health and happiness.

Important dates:

Term starts – Monday 8 January 2024

Mid-term holiday – Monday 12 February 2024

In-service day – Tuesday 13 February 2024

In-service day – Wednesday 14 February 2024

Term ends – Thursday 28 March 2024

Spring holiday – Friday 29 March to Friday 12 April 2024

Letter To Parents/Carers – December 2022

Dear Parents, Carers and Friends of the school

New Post

Mrs Karen Gebbie-Smith, Head of Primary will be stepping down to take on another new and exciting role within the ASN service. 

Karen started in June 2010 and has given dedicated service to both Woodlands and Orchard Brae Schools and although this is not goodbye, we will miss her not being around school daily.  However, I am pleased that we will still be able to call on her skills and knowledge to help support our ever-growing Orchard Brae ASN community.

Karen takes up her new post on January 16th and we wish her all the very best.

Retirement? Really?

Mr Jim Johnston will be leaving his post as class teacher at the end of this term.  Jim has worked with many pupils and families and has also given many years of dedicated service to both Orchard Brae and Woodlands Schools.

Orchard Brae staff, pupils and their families will miss Jim with his pupil centred, nurturing approach.  However, I am sure you will join us and colleague’s past and present in wishing Jim a long and happy retirement.

Performing Arts

Through the power of technology, we made an appearance at the Evening Express Carol Concert and this year, we also opened the Music Service Concert on Tuesday night.  Once again showcasing our talented group of signers, #proudheidie moment!

The adverse weather we have had recently has meant the postponement of our first live Christmas Show in 2 years until Tuesday 20th December, we have limited space in the hall so are only able to allocate 2 tickets per family.  I look forward to seeing you then.

And finally, a thank you to you, the whole team in Orchard Brae and our wider community.  Despite the many challenges we have faced, we do it together, this has been wonderfully exemplified by the care and thoughtful support provided recently by our neighbours at Heathryburn.  I wish them and you all the very best Christmas wishes and look forward to seeing what the new year brings


Important Dates

Thursday 22nd December – last day of term

Monday 9th January -return to school

Tuesday 10th January – potential strike day – school closed to all pupils

Monday 13th February – Mid-term holiday

Tuesday 14th February – In-service day – school closed to pupils

Wednesday 15th February – In-service day – school closed to pupils

Letter To Parents and Carers – August 2022

Dear Parent/Carer

Welcome back to the new session at Orchard Brae and a special welcome to all the new families that join us this year.

After a two-year break, it was great to see all the pupils enjoy a more social lunchtime as they all came together in the hall.  I was amazed and delighted to see them all having a positive experience with their peers.

The transport since we started has become slicker but we will continue to look at ways to improve this, including looking at the external layout for buses and taxis.  I will keep you posted with all developments.

Our Orchard Brae @ Ashgrove campus has enjoyed a good start to the year.  The seniors have had a great time and are well settled thanks to the warm welcome of the existing staff and pupils.  More improvements to the outdoor and indoor environments will be happening there over the year but again I will keep you posted.

The opening of the swimming pool continues to be delayed despite efforts during the summer to resolve this.  I am aware that many of you are concerned about this but I want to reassure you that the team here at OB are working with central officers to get the pool back up and running. Our parent council, OB Connect, also continues to collaborate with us in this matter and have been proactively seeking solutions to help resolve this, my thanks to them for their ongoing support.

We would like to extend a warm welcome to our newly appointed teachers Sarah Little (Rm 5), Sharon Reid (Rm 12) and Dawna Reid (NCCT) are new to OB and we have Nicola Cruikshank (Rm 14), Tania Morrice (Rm 3) and Sam Wildi (Rm 15), who enjoyed it here so much, they decided to stay. 

There have been a few changes in the Senior Leadership Team, I have listed these below.

Clare Russell – Head of Secondary – no change

Karen Gebbie-Smith – Head of Primary (Mon/Tues/Wed)

Naomi Farrimond – Head of Primary (Wed pm/Thurs/Fri) and PT Secondary (Mon/Tues/Wed am)

Lesley Parker – Head of ELC – no change

Lorraine McLean – PT PEF (Mon/Tues/Wed am) and PT Secondary (Wed pm/Thurs/Fri)

Amy Dunnett – PT Primary – no change

Heather Liebenberg – PT ELC – no change

Our annual family barbeque organised and run by the Friends of Orchard Brae will take place this weekend from 11-2pm.  We look forward to welcoming everyone to enjoy some exciting activities, stalls and a burger (or 2!).

Many thanks


Head Teacher’s Easter Blog

HT Easter Blog

It’s the Easter holidays already, wow, that was a fast term and again another busy term for our Orchard Brae community.  This term has brought it challenges with COVID having an impact on our staff, even I couldn’t escape it, but there is light to be seen and with the new term will come less restrictions.

We hope to resume our educational trips in the community and at long last get back into the water.  Our school will be opened back up to the community and we can welcome parents and visitors back in, it will be great to see you all in person again. 

We have a few ideas for events in the summer term and we will keep you informed of all the dates and our plans. 

Our building is almost fence free and our plans to revitalise the outdoor space are well underway, thanks to our fantastic outdoor learning team Roddy and Sharon.  The arrival of our all-terrain bikes was a great to see and once the weather gets a little bit warmer, we will be out in full force getting maximum use out of them.

After the holidays we will be sending out a questionnaire to gather our school communities’ thoughts on the changes we have made to some processes and what you would like to see change/develop moving forward.  All ideas welcomed!

Congratulations to Naomi Farrimond who officially took up the post of PT Secondary this term.   

Important Dates

  • Term ends – Friday 1 April 2022
  • Term starts – Monday 18 April 2022
  • May Day holiday – Monday 2 May 2022
  • In-service day – Tuesday 3 May 2022
  • Polling Day – Thursday 5th May (Orchard Brae @ Ashgrove, closed to all pupils)
  • Queen’s Platinum Jubilee- Friday 3 June 2022
  • Term ends – Friday 1 July 2022

Parents/Carers evening will be in June but no date has been set yet – more information to follow after the holidays.

Letter To Parents and Carers – 25th February 2022

Dear Parents and Carers,

I wanted to give you a quick update on a few things.  Firstly, the lifting of COVID restrictions and their implication on school life.  We anticipate that further guidance will come out from the Scottish Government re mask wearing and social distancing.  As of Monday 28th, we will be removing the need for staff to wear their masks outside, we continue to wear masks inside as we cannot socially distance the adults in the classroom safely.  I will ensure that you are updated with any other changes to our risk assessment and ensure it can be accessed on our web page.

Swimming Pool – my hope is to re-open the swimming pool after the Easter holidays.  As you will all be aware this will be a great step forward, but it does still require some careful planning, as we will have to limit the number of staff in changing areas due to mask wearing and social distancing rules.  Classes will have to be split in half to access, meaning that your child/young person will have a fortnightly slot to begin with.  Your class teacher will be in touch with more details closer to the holidays.

Orchard Brae Holiday Club – all parents and carers of pupils attending the school should have received an information poster and return for our holiday club.  This will run for the first week of the Easter holidays from 9.30-12.30.  Places are limited and you cannot be guaranteed a place, but the information will help us to organise future clubs and holiday access to activities.

Buildings – Our building is undergoing a transformation on the outside.  The removal of some of the slate from our building has started which means that we will soon be rid of all the Heras fencing.  We do also have plans to create our little garden areas outside each class which allows us to remove the temporary fencing as well.

Finally, we have received word that our report/letter from the latest HMIe visit will be published on the March 1st.  Once it goes live you will find access to it via this link on the Education Scotland website at www.education.gov.scot.  I would like to thank all of you for your continued support in making Orchard Brae the best it can be and hope to have a thank you gathering in the summer term to celebrate our wonderful community.

Kind regards


Head Teacher Christmas Blog

As Christmas fast approaches, it has been a time for me to reflect on my first four months as Head Teacher.  It has been a wonderful time getting to know all the pupils and families better and despite the pandemic we have achieved so much in a short space of time.  Following a very supportive visit from HMIE, we can now focus our attentions on driving forward with our improvement priorities.  It has been a very busy term for pupils and staff, there been exciting learning and teaching, preparation for our winter festivities, appearing in concerts and making our wonderful digital advent calendar, all of which you will see on our website.  Once again, a big thank you to Keith and Emmeline for their continued contribution to our musical endeavours!

Now, we move on to the holidays and I am mindful of the need to take time for ourselves over the Christmas period.  We are still faced with the ongoing issues and potentially further restrictions that this pandemic brings.  Therefore, it is important that we look after our health and wellbeing as we need to be reinvigorated for the year ahead.  We want to be able to welcome our whole school community back in January.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all, pupils, parents, friends and staff of Orchard Brae for your continued support and wish you and your loved ones a restful Christmas and a New Year that brings health and happiness.


Important dates

  • Last day of school – Tuesday 21st December 2021
  • First day back – Thursday 6th January 2022
  • Mid-term holiday – Monday 14th February 2022
  • In-service day – Tuesday 15 February 2022
  • In-service day – Wednesday 16 February 2022
  • Term ends – Friday 1 April 2022

Thank You From Caroline

Dear Parent/Carer,

I have been overwhelmed by your gifts and kind words and I cannot begin to express how grateful I am.

This week has been filled with tears of laughter as well as sad tears but I have so many fond memories to reflect back on.

I have left my gifts to the school with Elaine – a set of working traffic lights and some bird feeding poles for the outdoor areas in school and both the nurseries.

I am going to miss so much when I leave but I am looking forward to a slower pace. Orchard Brae will always have a very special place in my heart. 😊

I wish all a great summer and all the very best for the future.

Take care

Kind regards

Caroline 😊 XXX

Letter To Parents & Carers – 3rd June 2021

At last the sun has made an appearance and the temperature appears to have recovered when the haar doesn’t make an appearance.

I am pleased to announce following interviews on Wednesday 2nd June, that Elaine Thomson is the preferred candidate for the Head Teacher post. I am sure you will all join me in sharing our congratulations. Elaine will be in touch in due course with more information regarding end of term activities and any information relating to next term.

As the end of term approaches in 3 weeks I have been invited into classes to join their snack. I have had great fun spending time in many classes. I have had such an array of snacks and treats and been very well looked after. More visits over the next few weeks. 😊

I am delighted to say our Holiday Fun Club will be running for the first 4 weeks of the holidays. More information on how to book sessions will follow shortly.

I have attached the most recent updated Covid-19 risk assessment with the changes highlighted in green. Despite the fact that we move to protection level-1 from Saturday 5th June there has been no changes to the guidance for schools.

I hope you all have a good weekend when it comes.

Kind regards


Letter To Parents & Carers – 17th May 2021

Dear Parent/Carer,

Today we move into protection level 2 which has been long awaited by everyone. I have listed below what this means as a guide as I know how confusing it can get trying to keep track of what is and is not permitted within the different protection levels.

At Level 2:

  • you can meet socially in groups of up to:
    • 6 people from 3 households in your home or theirs – and can stay overnight
    • 6 people from 3 households in an indoor public place like a café, pub or restaurant
    • 8 people from 8 households outdoors
  • under 12s do not count towards the total number of people or households meeting outside but do count towards household numbers indoors
  • you do not need to physically distance from family and friends in a private home
  • you can travel anywhere in Scotland in Levels 0, 1 or 2 but must not enter a Level 3 or 4 area unless for a permitted reason
  • you can travel to England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands – before you travel you must check the travel rules in those countries
  • you can provide informal childcare, for example to look after a grandchild
  • up to 50 people can attend weddings and funerals
  • tradespeople can carry out any work in your home such as painting, decorating or repairing
  • you should work from home where possible

What can open at Level 2

Places and business that can open at Level 2 include:

  • cafés, pubs and restaurants
  • all shops and stores
  • all close contact services including hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons
  • gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools
  • tourist accommodation
  • visitor attractions
  • public buildings like libraries and community centres
  • cinemas, theatres, concert halls, amusement arcades, casinos, bingo halls, bowling alleys and snooker/pool halls
  • stadiums and events – with maximum numbers

What must close at Level 2

Places and business that must close at Level 2 include:

  • soft play, funfairs, nightclubs and adult entertainment

This is not a full list. You can get more information in the sections below.

Full details can be found in the link below.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) protection levels: what you can do – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Once I have received the updated school’s guidance from the Scottish Government, I will update our Covid-19 risk assessment and share it with you.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact school.

Take care

Kind regards