Breakthrough Maths breaking down anxiety surrounding maths for pupils across Cork and Ireland

Breakthrough Maths breaking down anxiety surrounding maths for pupils across Cork and Ireland

TJ Hegarty founder of Breakthrough Maths. Picture: Dan Linehan

AN online maths school that was founded by a Cork man in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to double in size over the coming months.

Breakthrough Maths started a year ago in a local community hall in Cork with just 24 students and two teachers.

Demand increased after classes moved online in October 2020, and 100 students were enrolled by the end of the academic year.

Breakthrough Maths caters for students from fifth class in primary school right through to Leaving Certificate level in secondary school. The classes are taught in small groups of six or seven pupils. Each student attends two lessons per week, all taught through Zoom, consisting of a 50-minute class and a shorter quiz to track progress.

Breakthrough Maths was set up by Whitechurch man TJ Hegarty in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The purpose of Breakthrough Maths is to inspire pupils to love maths,” TJ explained.

“It is the subject that causes the greatest anxiety, and worry for students and we want to change that.

“I started teaching maths privately almost 10 years ago. I taught hundreds of students in the evenings and weekends. These students were across all ability levels, from pupils with autism through to students who obtained 625 points in their Leaving Certificate.

“I was working full-time in sales, but one student in particular inspired me to change my career and set up Breakthrough Maths. I began working with Fionn when he was in second year.

“Fionn has autism, and his parents were told that he would be unlikely to cope with mainstream school. The progress Fionn has made during those five years is remarkable.

“He received his Leaving Cert results last week, achieving a H4 in higher-level maths and is off to MTU to study engineering. We helped to take the anxiety away from maths with Fionn, and he blossomed. That was all the inspiration I needed.”

Breakthrough Maths now employs 13 people and has already seen huge demand for this coming semester.

“So far this term, we have had a phenomenal reaction,” TJ explained.

“Over 150 students have signed up for September, and 75% of those pupils are from Cork.

“The feedback is phenomenal, parents have told us that their child’s whole attitude to school has changed for the better thanks to our classes,” he added.

“The students who struggled most with maths are now teaching their younger brothers and sisters and are helping them with their homework.

TJ Hegarty founder of Breakthrough Maths. Picture: Dan Linehan
TJ Hegarty founder of Breakthrough Maths. Picture: Dan Linehan

“We also have testimonials from pupils who received the points to get into a college course that they never expected to achieve. It’s inspiring.

“There is no other school offering what we do,” said TJ.

“We have small classes of six or seven pupils of matched ability and young, enthusiastic, 600-point teachers. Students receive two lessons a week. We use Kahoot! Quizzes to track progress each week. We also have over 50 pages of notes on the Maths syllabus. It’s comprehensive.”

JT explained that Breakthrough Maths does more than just teach the subject, it also breaks down the anxiety surrounding it.

“We show students how to solve complex mathematical problems simply,” he said.

“We show students how to use maths in their everyday lives, and we have lots of fun while doing it.

“We cater for students from fifth class in primary school right through to Leaving Certificate level in secondary school,” he added.

“The online classes also fit around the students’ life, meaning they still have time to play a match or enjoy another hobby in the evening.

“An average student saved 45 hours that would otherwise have been spent travelling to and from grinds.

“We are even able to teach them the night before their exams.

“We believe that online classes are the way forward for tutoring. Why would you go to school for seven hours, come back home, and then go back to another school setting for another hour? That’s exhausting.

“Breakthrough Maths is such a simple system — ‘small classes in a click’.”

Looking forward with the academic year just under way, TJ explained that he has big short-term and long-term plans for Breakthrough Maths.

“The concept of ‘small classes in a click’ has a lot of scope to expand,” he said.

“It’s a simple system, all you need is six or seven students of matched ability and a tutor who inspires a love for maths.

“Our short-term plans are to teach over 250 students in Ireland this year and to do a trial in the UK market. We also plan to hire an additional 10 tutors over the next year.

“There is also a clear need to support students in DEIS schools and students with additional needs, and it’s something that we’re looking forward to exploring over the coming months.”

The small group classes began on Monday, September 6.

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