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Head won fight for more space

"Like a dog with a bone," is how one parent described headteacher Peter Jones in his crusade to secure funding to extend and refurbish his school.

And it is this drive and determination that was recognised when Mr Jones was named primary head of the year at the recent teaching awards, held at Cardiff's city hall.

When a 2001 inspection report praised the teaching at St David's Church in Wales primary, in Cardiff, but condemned the classrooms for being too small and cramped, Mr Jones used the verdict to campaign for Assembly funds to upgrade the premises.

And, thanks to his initiative, the first stage in a three-phase upgrading project will kick off next March, equipping the school with an outdoor theatre and two enclosed, vandal-proof courtyards where pupils can plant gardens.

The new school buildings will allow us more scope for creativity," he said.

"Now that the pressure of Sats has been removed, we have the opportunity to develop the children in a more holistic way."

St David's is situated in the Pentwyn district of Cardiff, an area of social deprivation and challenges.

Mr Jones, 50, who took up the headship seven years ago, feels that it is important to create a warm and positive atmosphere within the school.

"We have a supportive culture here," he said. "And the parents value our caring ethos."

Mr Jones was nominated for the award by Nigel Davies, whose three children, Huw, 10, Olivia, six, and four-year-old Theo, attend the school.

"He has a very hands-on approach and is as much a part of the pupils' lives as their class teacher," said Mr Davies. "His energy filters down. Even though he's extremely busy, he always has time for everyone and is approachable and friendly."

Outside school, Mr Jones relaxes on the golf course, and at home in a converted cowshed on the family farm where he grew up.

His daughter, Gemma, is a recent graduate of the Welsh College of Music and Drama, and his son, Barry, freshly out of school, is trying his skills as a professional golfer.

His son Gareth, a promising rugby player,was killed in a car accident in October 2001. It was a trial that Mr Jones says was made more bearable by the compassion of St David's staff.

"The support and understanding I received helped carry me through," he said.

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