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Tuesday 24 May 2016

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Teacher in line for global prize pleads for 'home learning and home support'

Published 12/03/2016

Colin Hegarty is in the running for the award
Colin Hegarty is in the running for the award

A teacher in line for a million dollar prize after creating over a thousand maths videos explaining the subject has said he hopes to help youngsters who cannot afford private tutors.

Colin Hegarty, who has been shortlisted for the second annual Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, has set up a new website showcasing his tutorials which he wants to reach as many pupils as possible - especially those who would benefit the most from extra maths help.

The maths specialist starting creating films on the subject around four years ago, after an A-level student had to take time off to see his sick father and was worried about falling behind.

The idea took off, and after creating more than 1,000 videos which have collectively had around six million views, Mr Hegarty took a sabbatical to establish a dedicated maths website. It is currently available in around 70 schools.

Speaking ahead of the Global Teacher Prize award ceremony in Dubai this weekend, Mr Hegarty said: "I would like it to reach as many children as possible, and especially those who need it the most. I want to help the children who can't afford personal tutors."

"This is an opportunity to help home learning and offer home support," he added.

Children can learn whole maths concepts through the videos, try them out and test themselves on what they have learnt.

"If nothing else, this is a way to reach pupils more effectively," he said. "It's something that can really help them to learn."

One in four pupils have had a private tutor to help with exams or school work, according to a poll published by the Sutton Trust last year, up from 18% in 2005.

The charity has warned that poorer children whose families cannot afford private help can be put at a disadvantage.

Mr Hegarty said that since he was shortlisted for the accolade, interest in his website has grown, with thousands of school and parents asking for information.

He said he is hoping to find a technology company will now work with him to extend the site's reach.

"I hope this website will make a drastic difference to maths education, and I can find a backer," he said.

The Oxford graduate, who became a teacher six years ago after previously working as an accountant for Deloitte, said he is excited about being shortlisted for the prize, which recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to teaching.

"I'm particularly excited about meeting the other people shortlisted," he said. "One of my favourite things is watching other teachers teach."

The other nine finalists are drawn from around the world, including Pakistan, Kenya, Palestine, the USA, Japan, Finland, Australia and India.

The winner will receive one million US dollars (around £630,000) and be asked to serve as a global ambassador for the Varkey Foundation, attending events and speaking about their work.

But they will also be required to remain working as a classroom teacher for at least five years as a condition of winning the award.

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