ALBERT Primary School is a place you can hear long before you see it.

Approaching the school the sounds of children having fun during their morning break carries some way down the street.

This colourful, cheerful atmosphere permeates every brick of the school.

The school has approximately 460 children from Reception to Year 6 including the 72-place Nursery Unit.

I was shown around the site by headteacher Andrew Gilbert, with support from deputy head Aled Williams.

Mr Gilbert said: “Albert is a happy, vibrant school where all children are given the opportunity of learning in a caring, stimulating environment. We believe it is important that all families feel welcome in the school. Education is a partnership between home and school with a shared responsibility based on trust and mutual understanding and the co-operation and participation of parents with our school in the education of their child is positively encouraged.

“A good relationship between school and home builds a child’s confidence, aids their learning and helps them to fulfil their potential in all areas.”

They stressed that the children had an equal say in their education, through the use of techniques like ‘Immersion Days’ – where pupils have a multi-sensory experience of any given topic.

These learning opportunities have varied from using LEGO in building new robot designs and solving problems, to visits from STEM experts. businesses and education experts.

The pupils develop a basis from these experiences from which to draw questions and interests, while the staff ask for pupils’ ideas about how they would like to learn further.

“We recently we had an Immersion Day on the topic of volcanoes,” said Mr Gilbert. “A few of the pupils mentioned ways they would like to learn more about the subject. When we followed their suggestions a few weeks later, they were incredibly enthused – it really focuses them, develops their engagement.”

These pioneering techniques of giving the children an equal say in their education have a proven record.

Albert Primary featured in Estyn’s ‘Recognising excellence in education and training’ publication for its innovative approach.

The publication said: “The school provides pupils with an excellent range of high quality learning experiences.”

Mr Gilbert said: “Most importantly the inspection report captures the ethos of our school and, in particular, it confirmed that we are achieving our aim to make the school a happy and secure place in which pupils grow in confidence and independence.”

Albert Primary also earned an award for being the top performing primary school in Wales in recognition of their implementation of the Renaissance Reading programme, and the impact it has on their children’s reading progress.

The staff were experienced and enthusiastic. During the tour, I was treated to a brief rehearsal of the school’s summer production – The Lion King. The youngsters performing looked genuinely thrilled to be involved, and were remarkably talented singers.

There is plenty of sport provision, with the deceptively spacious grounds playing host to several open tarmac areas and courts. Football, basketball, rounders, cycling and more were on offer, along with chess, drama and music clubs. For those looking to go off school site, Belle Vue Park is feet away from the front entrance, and often works with the school.

This year, Albert Primary has been awarded the prestigious Platinum Flag Award after previously gaining three Green Flag Awards thanks to the environmental education programme, Eco-Schools.

But no school is without its problems.

A major concern for Albert Primary is having to balance a large deficit budget. In order to do so the school has lost a number of agency learning support staff, with the deputy head taking on a greater teaching commitment next year to make up for the shortfall.

Another blow came after four years of saving and planning to convert a disused toilet block into a teaching and community centre.

The funds, totalling £50,000, had to be used to offset the deficit budget instead. The proposal was to refurbish the existing outbuilding to provide a new classroom facility for the oversubscribed main school to use, alongside the community.

The governors are currently creating a task group of stakeholders to address future funding sources.

But the spirits of the pupils and staff have not been dampened by financial difficulties.

“I believe that we are extremely fortunate in Albert Primary to have created such a positive and vibrant environment in which our children can learn,” said Mr Gilbert. “It is the dedication and commitment of its staff and everyone associated with the school that makes Albert Primary the school that it is today – successful, happy and continually improving.”

Albert Primary was founded in 1876 to accommodate all ages of children up to school leaving age.

Much of its original character has been preserved and it now holds Grade 2 listed status. The school has some unusual Victorian artwork by Norton Nante and parts of the school were designed by highly respected Victorian architect J Coates Carter.

A Victorian mural on the front of the building shows several children hard at work. One of them is holding a pet mouse on a lead.

It is clear that this quirky attitude to learning has been present and successful in the school for a long time.

Long may it last.