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It all adds up for the new guy

Senior colleagues compare him to a new-season Beaujolais Nouveau, rather than a vintage.

"Fresh, interesting and very palatable" is how they describe 35-year-old teacher Phil Jones in a flattering analogy with the business he left for the classroom.

For after a decade in the wine trade, Mr Jones decided he had had enough of Chardonnay and Merlot and set out on a new challenge. He has since been putting fizz into maths lessons.

Now he has picked up the fifth Welsh teaching award in five years for staff at Eirias high, in Conwy. Named outstanding new teacher in Wales, Mr Jones was praised by the Plato award judges for his classroom style and the results achieved by his pupils.

Now in his third year of teaching at the 1,550-pupil school, he has taken on a pastoral role as an academic development co-ordinator for Year 7 to help raise the performance of underachievers, and supports the special educational needs group.

The business and financial economics graduate took a postgraduate certificate in education course at the University of Wales, Bangor, before joining the staff at the Colwyn Bay school.

Elspeth Crombie, deputy head, said: "Phil is energetic and enthusiastic about his work. He has achieved excellent exam results with all of his classes. He inspires even the most reluctant learners."

Mr Jones has developed several innovative techniques. He uses computer technology, memory hooks and visual aids and encourages audience participation. Sounding positive is a key feature of his teaching style.

He said: "I'm part of a strong and enthusiastic team. We expect a lot from the pupils but they expect a lot from us as well.

"Teaching was always in the back of my mind but I don't think I would be as good if I had gone into teaching straight away. I think you need the experience of dealing with different people."

There was a 100 per cent pass rate in A-level maths at Eirias last year, with 80 per cent of candidates achieving grades A or B.

Mr Jones has attended Basic Skills Agency courses and returned with new ideas about the delivery of basic numeracy.

Ms Crombie said: "There's a potential within Phil that you know will develop to become full-bodied, mature and very interesting. We are keen to watch this as he becomes one of a rare breed - an exceptional teacher of maths."

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