TeeJay Maths provides what can only be thought of as a new approach to the teaching of Maths. It’s both a core platform and a management tool for teachers and head teachers to use but more importantly, it is a stimulus for children and encourages and enthuses them to want to learn and get embroiled in the understanding of Maths. It uses a bright colourful pupil centred Core Textbook for each year as its focal point with each book supported by a suite consisting of a detailed online course planner, an associated Homework pack, a Curriculum-based Assessment pack and in Primary, a mental pack that not only provides practice, but actually teaches the concept of Mental Arithmetic. We thought it would be interesting to cast the spotlight on one of TeeJay’s Co-founders and Co-owners, Tom Strang. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: What was your background before founding TeeJay?
Tom: I was a Maths Teacher for 35 years, ending up as Principal Teacher of Maths at Clydebank High School. I have always written Maths Materials, from way back in 1972 when I started at Paisley Grammar School and was known as the “banda master” because I could get 5-6 colours on all my Banda support sheets. I produced my own O-Grade Arithmetic Course in 1975.
Q: Describe a typical day for you?
Tom: At TeeJay, there is no typical day. Last year, I visited over 60 schools, offering support and advice on why and how to use TeeJay Maths resources effectively in class. I still write and produce new material (at the moment we are developing a new Higher Maths Textbook). However, I am, also involved in replying to queries from schools and parents, preparing advertising materials, providing children with learning or visual difficulties with electronic versions of our materials as well as doing a spot of childminding for our grandkids on a Tuesday. I occasionally have time for lunch!
Q: What has been your biggest challenge since you founded TeeJay?
Tom: Making the name TeeJay synonymous with value and quality. We built up a reputation through 10 years of providing schools with photocopiable support materials – homework, revision work “slow learners “write-on support sheet (a term not used nowadays). In 2001 we brought out our first TeeJay Secondary Textbook (General book 3G) and our first Primary/Secondary book 5-14 Level E in 2003 – we were established and schools very kindly supported us by investing in our resources. And they have done so ever since. Our new challenge is to try and break into the England market with resources based on our successful Scottish Core Maths Textbooks.
Q: What has been your biggest professional success/achievement?
Tom: We believe we are providing a good well produced Core Maths Resource that we strongly believe is shaping the Scottish Curriculum. It is with a sense of pride that we think that almost every Scottish school pupil, from Primary 1 to Secondary 5, will be opening a TeeJay Maths Textbook at some time every day in school.
Q: What is your favourite thing about working for TeeJay?
Tom: Believe it or not, we really believe in what we do and we at TeeJay feel we are providing a resource that will enable teachers to raise numeracy standards in Scotland. Our resources are in almost every Secondary and Independent school as well as around 95% of all Primaries. Of course, the money is good – that’s a given – but it is in the pride and knowledge we are doing a very “good thing”.
Q: What do you do to relax/unwind?
Tom: If you ask my wife – an ex-Primary Head – she’ll say I don’t! But I do. I like reading and playing the guitar. I’ve recently, after losing what was called a minor digit in an accident, (my pinky), started playing classical guitar again. We love to travel, having been to China, Egypt, India, Australia, The States, Canada, South America, Vietnam and Cambodia as well as the annual family October trip to Teneriffe and my wife and I took up cycling a few years ago. We’re off soon for a weeks cycling in Normandy.
Q: What’s the best piece of work-related or personal advice you have received?
Tom: Persevere and make sure whatever you write and produce is well presented and set at the right level – the level that children will understand, will learn from and will enable them to become embroiled in Maths and want to learn!