The London Irish teachers revolutionising mathematics
The pair want to use digital age to give free tutorials and grinds to all
Two London Irish teachers hope to shake up the way that maths is taught to students around the country by levelling the playing field for those who cannot afford private tuition.
Brian Arnold and Colin Hegarty came up with what they call an inverse teaching method when they started making their own online tutorials for their students to watch at home to be ready to put their methods into practice when they came into class.
Hegarty Maths, which they came up with while working at Queensmead School in Ruislip, meant that students finding it difficult received support in class rather than falling behind when doing their homework alone in the evenings.
And now Arnold and Hegarty are looking to implement it as a nationwide online resource for all students.
They have already set up the website www.hegartymaths.com which all schoolchildren can access, but now they are looking to improve the content and production and ensuring that all aspects of the secondary school curricula are covered in time for the next academic year in September.
Dubliner Arnold says they want to make sure that not only children from privileged backgrounds benefit from additional maths support.
He and Kilburn-born Hegarty, whose parents come from Clare and Mayo, are now competing for £150,000 investment from serial entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson as part of a Virgin initiative for new and growing businesses.
They are currently in the semi-finals of the Rich to Pitch competition, and if they get enough votes will get to pitch directly to the entrepreneur.
Click here to vote for HegartyMaths:
London Irish teaching duo’s pitch to rich
They are fighting for a place to win £150k from Richard Branson
Two Irish teachers from London are in prime position to win an opportunity to pitch their business to Sir Richard Branson to win a £150,000 investment.
Virgin Media’s Pitch to Rich 2015 competition welcomed 2,408 entries from emerging businesses, and the list has now been whittled down to 32 entries at the semi-final stage.
Colin Hegarty, Kilburn-born to parents from Clare and Mayo, and Dublin-born Brian Arnold are currently top of the voting table for their category for their Hegarty Maths business plan.
They have already emerged from two rounds of online voting and judges’ decisions to get this far after impressing for their novel way of teaching maths to children for free nationwide.
The idea came about when they were working together at Preston Manor school, and they decided to experimentally inverse their teaching methods to see how their students would progress.
“Colin, who is the face of the business, and I started making video tutorials the students could access online,” says Brian.
“The idea was that they would learn the techniques of how to solve problems via the videos for their homework, and then actually attack the problems in class. It’s kind of the opposite way to how homework usually works when students learn the method in class and then do the work at home.
“But they’re on their own then. This way we are with them each step of the way, as they learn the technique through the video, and then when they are putting it to practical use in the classroom we are there to help them with any problems they may have.”
Hegarty Maths picked up numerous teaching awards and students across the country accessed the website (www.hegartymaths.com) for help with their own maths issues.
Last year they won a fund from the Teaching Support network, which meant that the board have paid their employers to release them from their teaching timetables to further develop their website.
“It got to the stage when looking back on the videos that we made, they seemed a bit amateur. Obviously when we were making the videos we still had our full-time teaching obligations, and were trying to squeeze them in early in the morning before work and teaching all day and marking work in the evening.
“So the fund was brilliant. We have a former student of ours, Daniel Keeble, who is now the programmer for the site and it’s all coming together a lot more professionally now.”
Colin Hegarty met with David Cameron last November when he won award for the programme’s work.
The team vow to keep the videos free for all children from 8-17 to develop their maths skills, but have moulded it to make money too for their pitch.
“It will always be free for children. That’s the whole point. We feel that some children are at a disadvantage because those that come from more privileged backgrounds may be able to afford private maths tuition to give them an extra helping hand.
“But most children don’t have that option available to them. We want this to be their private tuition.
“However, there will be some sort of option to have a subscription charge for schools and techers who want to access say worksheets or methods to use in their own classrooms. But the videos will always be free.”
When entering Virgin’s initiative there were three categories open to them to enter into; new things, start-up or growing.
“It wasn’t really new, so we went with start-up, because that’s what we’re doing really, starting it all up as a nationwide platform.
“We got a lot of votes over social media for the first round, and then the judges put us in through to the semi-finals.”
Now the team have to come in the top three in their category in order to get to the final where they will pitch to Sir Richard Branson himself and the chief executive of MumsNet at a live event in London where there is £1 million worth of prizes to be won.
“We would love to get that far. At the start of this round all votes were reset down to zero. We are top of the votes at the minute but the group just behind us are closing the gap slowly but surely.
“We know that the top three get through anyway, but we are just so passionate about this idea and campaign that it would be great to come through with the most votes from any of the categories just to really grab people’s attention.”
And are they nervous about having to pitch in front of Sir Richard himself?
“We have to get up and pitch in front of 30 teenagers everyday! Colin is great at that sort of stuff and really looking forward to it, and as we said we believe in the pitch too which helps!
“We also know that Sir Richard is quite a fan of division businesses and hopefully, apart from the fact that it is a free educational tool for children, will jump on that because it really divides up the private tuition industry!”
It’s a cause that the team are extremely passionate about and Brian says: “We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received so far but we’re not in the final yet. I know the Irish are brilliant for supporting our own so I need our people to rally around us and help us over the line. We their help we can make a massive difference to students lives in future.”
Voters, who are over 18 and live in the UK, also be entered into a prize draw to win £10,000 for themselves.