Case studies

8m students, 10,000 years of learning: how an accountant used maths to turn his dream of helping disadvantaged children into reality  

Deloitte alumnus Colin Hegarty describes his journey from chartered accountant to award-winning maths teacher

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. Six years ago, I started making maths instructional videos to help one of my students who had to study from home because his father was terminally ill. I put all of these videos freely available on YouTube so any student could access them. Not only did my student pass his maths A-level and go on to study engineering, the videos also proved extremely popular around the world. Over the next 2 years, I made nearly 2,000 videos that were used by over 8 million students in over 200 territories across the globe - around 10,000 years’ worth of learning all via the internet.

My maths videos proved so popular that in 2014 I was awarded UK Teacher of the Year, and in 2016 I was a top 10 finalist the Global Teacher Prize (the Nobel Prize for teaching) in recognition for my outreach work in the UK. I’m an advocate for the importance of maths for the UK as a nation and in support of social mobility.

With financial support from a charity called SHINE, I’m using this success to increase the impact on schools and students in maths. Alongside a team of fellow teachers and apprentices, all of whom are my former students, I’ve built the www.hegartymaths.com platform, which allows schools to easily monitor education and the progress of every student. We’ve already reached 200,000 students by schools and teachers setting their students home learning from the system.

Before teaching, I spent five years as a chartered accountant within Deloitte’s Corporate Tax business where, through my involvement in the responsible business programme, I discovered my passion for teaching. I joined Deloitte’s Reading Partners Scheme and spent my lunchtime once a week in a London school helping a disadvantaged pupil with reading and literacy.

I found the experience so fulfilling that I resigned to pursue my dream of making a difference for disadvantaged pupils.

As well as providing me with the first steps in my career and the skills I use every day to work efficiently and with purpose, Deloitte has helped me set up robust technology systems. It has also held a strategy workshop day to help me develop a plan to make HegartyMaths sustainable and maximise its impact on maths students. Deloitte invited my apprentice coders to visit the offices for outreach events, which have proved very rewarding for the apprentices and given them ambition and confidence to apply to work in a firm like Deloitte in the future.

The next 12-24 months is going to be an exciting time, and I’m confident we can make a positive difference to maths education.

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