TWO Irish teachers in London have a simple ambition — to host the number one maths website in the world.
They’ve done the sums, know it’s possible — and are now hoping Virgin founder Richard Branson will agree.
Dubliner Brian Arnold and Preston Manor teacher Colin Hegarty, who grew up in Kilburn in a Clare and Mayo family, already have the HegartyMaths website up and running on YouTube.
Their vision is to bring maths for free into the homes of students, aged 8-17, across the globe.
Brian, who has been teaching in England for five years and is now based at Chessington Community College, said: “So far, it’s gone really well — the HegartyMaths lessons on YouTube have already had hits from 220 territories round the globe, and almost five million people have logged on.”
Many people can’t afford extra tuition in subjects that are vital to career advancement, Brian says.
“Our dream is to level the playing field in maths education. Our content will always be free to students.
“We’ve developed a platform that delivers the best explanations from teachers who are masters of their craft — Colin won Teacher of the Year award and I haven’t been graded less than Outstanding since my induction year.”
In order to further this ambition, the pair entered the Virgin Media Business Pitch to Rich competition.
They have now reached the semi-finals of the contest out of over 1,000 entrants.
The public continues to vote for their favourite entrepreneurs and the three most popular sites on June 16 will then go in front of Richard Branson, before the Virgin boss picks his winner on June 26.
Brian, whose enthusiasm for maths is palpable, wanted to be a teacher since he was 14 and believes their videos offer a valuable resource to students.
“We take them from the basic principles of the subject, such as addition and subtraction, through to more complex concepts such as calculus or algebraic equations. Every single skill you need for maths is looked at, and linked to other lessons,” he said.
“Our website teaches children maths in a way that makes them feel confident, fills in the gaps in their knowledge, helps them succeed and makes them feel like they have their own free private tutor at their side to always help.”
Currently the pair are on sabbatical in order to concentrate on the website.
Their funding comes from the Let Teachers Shine body, and a former pupil, Daniel Keeble, has even been taken on to help with the business.
So has formal teaching seen the last of them?
“I don’t think so,” says Brian. “We’re both passionate about teaching, and I wouldn’t want to lose the connection with the classroom.”
He added: “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.”