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London maths teacher in world's top 10

A maths teacher from a London comprehensive has reached the top 10 finalists for a global teaching prize.

Colin Hegarty, from Preston Manor School in Wembley, has reached the final stages of a competition to find the world's most exceptional teachers.

The winner will receive a prize of a $1m (£690,000) at an awards ceremony in March.

Mr Hegarty said it was good to see a competition that "elevated the status of teachers".

The Global Teacher Prize, set up by the Varkey Foundation, the charitable arm of the Gems international education firm, is aimed at "unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that have transformed young people's lives".

The final top 10 shortlist has been published, after entries were received from teachers in 148 countries.

Mr Hegarty is the only UK finalist, alongside teachers from the United States, Australia, India, Finland and Kenya.

Mr Hegarty describes maths as "quite addictive" and has set up a website with videos teaching how to solve maths problems.

The idea began when one of his pupils had to go overseas to care for his sick father - and Mr Hegarty put materials online so that he could keep up with his maths lessons.

Mr Hegarty, who rejects the idea that some people are inherently "good at maths", says that the subject lends itself to being taught through online videos, because pupils can benefit from looking at something repeatedly until they understand.

He says there is no simple "formula" for what makes a good teacher, but he says that like being a good student, it can be about sticking at it.

"It's about hard work. If you get stuck, just try harder."

Mr Hegarty says this was the lesson he learned from his own family. He grew up in a London council flat and went on to get a first-class degree in maths from Oxford University.

He has already won a UK prize, in the national teaching awards run by Pearson.

Mike Ellicock, chief executive of National Numeracy, welcomed the recognition of the importance of maths teaching, saying: "We know that good numeracy is the best protection against unemployment, low wages and poor health.

"We also know that there is no 'maths gene'. Instead everyone can use numbers and data to make good decisions - and it is fantastic to see this recognition for Colin's work to enable that."

Last year's global teacher prize winner was Nancie Atwell from the United States, who donated her prize money to her school. Richard Spence from Middlesbrough had reached the top 10.

The awards were presented at a ceremony addressed by former US president Bill Clinton, with contributions from Bill Gates.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said he wanted the prize to "shine a powerful spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over the UK and throughout the world every day".

Since last year's prize, Mr Varkey announced that he was signing up for the Giving Pledge, in which the very wealthy promise to give away most of their money to philanthropic causes.

He is the first education entrepreneur to join the pledging project, set up by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, his wife Melinda Gates and investor Warren Buffet.

UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon backed the teachers' prize nominations, saying: "I count my teachers as among the most influential people in my life."

BBC Article

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