'They think I'm a cyborg' says maths supremo as Sparx programme gifted to six Brent schools

Colin Hegarty, centre with Newman Catholic College staff, and Balfour Beatty

Colin Hegarty, centre with Newman Catholic College staff, local schools, and Balfour Beatty Vinci Systra - Credit: Sparx Learning

More than 7,000 school pupils in Brent are to have free access to an award-winning mathematics teacher's new project.

Balfour Beatty, Vinci and Systra (BBVS), the joint venture that is managing the construction and delivery of the HS2 Old Oak Common station, is providing Sparx Maths. This is an award-winning online maths homework tool, free of charge to six secondary schools in Brent.

Newman Catholic College students using Colin Hegarty's Sparx 3

Newman Catholic College students using Colin Hegarty's Sparx maths programme - Credit: Sparx Learning

The programme is the brain child of Colin Hegarty, a former mathematics teacher at Preston Manor School in Carlton Avenue East, Wembley, who was voted one of the world's top 10 teachers in 2016

Alperton Community School, Newman Catholic College (NCC), Capital City Academy, Crest Academy, Queens Park Community School and St Claudine's Catholic School for Girls have all received funding from BBVS to access Sparks Maths for five years.

Sparx Maths provides personalised maths homework to students and has been proven to increase students’ progress and improve grades.

The system, used in some 2,000 schools in the UK and abroad, serving 1.7million pupils, builds a learner profile for each student using millions of data points so that every student gets homework questions which are just right for them.

There are tens of thousands of maths questions and, if a student is unsure, there are about 10,000 video tutorials.

Best Teacher in the World 2016 finalist Colin Hegarty explaining his mathematical Sparx programme 

Best Teacher in the World 2016 finalist Colin Hegarty explaining his mathematical Sparx programme - Credit: Sparx Learning

Colin, now director of Education for Sparx Learning, was star guest at an event at NCC, on October 5, where pupils were astonished to find he wasn't "a cyborg".

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"It was such a good event, I know this school very well and the kids are just lovely," said the father-of-two.

"The kids were so welcoming. They knew me because a lot of them have listened to my videos so they were a bit shocked that I actually exist. They sort of think I'm some sort of cyborg or robot or something so they were all a bit surprised."

The maths supremo then went round the classrooms to see students using the programme, joined by engineers from BBVS and HS2.

He explained: "They already use Hegarty maths so we were launching Sparx. It's like a more enhanced version of Hegarty Maths using artificial intelligence and a data driven approach, really high technology.

"It’s our expectation that classes using Sparx Maths will have a 100 per cent homework completion rate, which helps students to really learn about the power of practice to improve."

He added: "It's helping more kids that the one I built. It's more inclusive, it helps more children, it's personalised, so each child, whilst they are getting a homework on a topic the teacher wants them to learn, every single child's homework is personalised to them.

"The kids like it because it feels like it knows them it's about them, it's helping them it's specific to them, Hegarty Maths wasn't like that.

"This one kid said he didn't mind doing his homework. Don't mind from a kid is as good as it gets."

He thanked BBVS for gifting the programme to the schools saying they were "helping the children's capability over a long period". 

Newman Catholic College students using  Colin Hegarty's Sparx 6

Newman Catholic College students using Colin Hegarty's Sparx maths programme - Credit: Sparx Learning

Nicky Vitamore, head of maths at NCC said: “BBVS’s support is already having an impact this term. Sparx Maths is encouraging independent learning and we’ve seen a real improvement in students’ progress in maths.

"Mathematics is a vital foundation for so many professions and Sparx Maths will help our teachers to develop the engineers, architects, construction experts, data scientists and accountants of the future.”

Newman Catholic College students using Colin Hegarty's Sparx programme

Newman Catholic College students using Colin Hegarty's Sparx programme - Credit: Sparx Learning

Elliott Murphy, skills, employment and education manager at BBVS said: “Maths is central to our work at the Old Oak Common station project so we’re delighted to be supporting maths learning in this initiative with Sparx Maths – particularly to overcome the acute learning loss caused by COVID-19.

"It’s our hope that some of the students using Sparx Maths today will pursue careers in engineering and construction, and even become apprentices and employees at the Old Oak Common project.”

The c.£1 billion Old Oak Common station project is scheduled to be completed between 2029 and 2033. 

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