FAIRFIELD Primary is one of Penarth’s better-kept secrets.

Tucked away in the quieter streets of 'Poets Corner', it would be easy to pass for one of the larger schools of Penarth - but you’d be making a mistake.

Head Sian Lewis said: “We have a long history of being inclusive and having children in mainstream who have particular needs - we had a an additional learning needs centre until a few users ago

“While we are challenging the pupils across the usual curriculum, we are also ensuring pupils are engaged in the wider world. We want to turn them into respectful individuals with good values and an understanding of issues across the whole spectrum life has to offer.”

The school encourages pupils to voice their ideas, and shape their own education to a degree. They are asked what additions and activities they would like around the school, push for pupil engagement with a range of life experiences, and emphasis the development of their social skills to help them interact with others in different settings.

The idea works well in practice. The students are friendly, confident, and respectful to the teachers. They smile, wave and say hello to the teachers in the corridors.

“This is my eleventh year here,” said Ms Lewis. “I feel privileged to work in Fairfield. It’s a school with a wonderful ethos and atmosphere, and skilled staff who know the children well, ensuring they’re getting the best possible.

“The children really exude enjoyment and enthusiasm for their learning.”

One classroom was filled with children learning their times-tables by singing and dancing, grins from ear to ear. In the school’s on-site nursery, youngsters concentrate on their basic arithmetic, rolling modelling clay into a single sunflower, or a pair of bananas.

The nursery is the most recent addition to the school, having been opened in January of last year. It’s the sort of place you can hear long before you see, as smiling toddlers enjoyed their break time.

The nursery’s addition to the school site would allow for an improved transition for pupils from nursery to reception.

“Children benefit from being challenged with their learning at an earlier stage,” explained Ms Lewis. “We want to make them feel safe and comfortable at the school, and make it as easy as possible to move up to reception.

“We also give our older pupils a chance to experience both Stanwell and St Cyres secondaries around here to give them a smooth move into secondary education.”

There’s plenty on offer at the school, as well.

Opportunities for extracurricular activities is vast, with local community groups using the hall throughout the week, for gym, dance fitness, karate, football and music tech.

The introduction of a ‘Mid-week Muddle-Up’ allows pupils to work across age groups on half-termly projects, which use staff expertise in particular areas for a project that they collectively work on; such as working on the environment in their own conservation area, or ‘Pizza Maths’ combining elements of maths and fractions with cookery.

Pupil groups cover School Council, Sports Council, Creative Committee, Sgwad Cymraeg, Eco-Committee, Team Captains, Digital Leaders, while other groups focus on global issues and the impact of their actions internationally.

Jake Kidby, Ahmed Maher and Georgia Tomalin-Reeves are on the school council.

Though each had a different focus for their enjoyment of the school site, they all agreed they were very happy at Fairfield.

Jake said: “I absolutely love my football and there’s loads of chances to play that here. The new gym trail outside is great too.”

Ahmed said: “I prefer maths and challenges. We thought school council would be a fun responsibility to look after the school, help people and share ideas.”

Georgia said: “ As part of school council we decided to build a ‘relaxation station’ for anyone who feels down. They can bring paper and pens and books. It’s just a wooden den. But we’re putting in shelves, posters. And there’s lot of free space to run around front and back.”

The school has been lauded for its environmental efforts, securing a Bronze Welsh Charter Award last term, and earning a Platinum Flag for their approach to ecological and sustainability issues.

Pupils Isaac Eley and Sophie Wilford were at the school’s conservation area.

They explained to me that the area was first started around 25 years ago, but they had begun pushing for more lessons to be held outdoors.

They hope to add tables, chairs and more outdoor classroom equipment, so they can take lessons in the open air.

“The staff go above and beyond here,” said Ms Lewis. “With increased pressure on funding for schools staff, governors and parents have to really put 110 per cent effort in.

“The PTA has raised an incredible amount for us over the years and have done wonders for our IT departments.

“Parents have helped out in raising money for the new gym trail.

“One father built our relaxation station shed by himself, and the stage on the playground for singing and dancing was also built with parent’s help.

“They ensure we can continue and we can be excellent for all the children’s learning.

“Attainment is high and all pupils make good progress specific to them, and this achievement is something of which we are extremely proud.”

There’s an underlying feeling of positivity in Fairfield, off the beaten path but quietly proud and it seems thoroughly well-earned.