Andria Zafirakou, a teacher at a London School, has received this year’s Global Teacher Prize.
She was presented with the $1 million prize at the Global Education and Skills Conference in Dubai.
Andria Zafirakou and the other finalists have been selected from over 30,000 nominations and applications from 173 countries around the world.
The Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society.
By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that have transformed young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of millions of teachers all over the world.
Zafirakou is a teacher at Alperton Community School and is the first UK winner of the Global Teacher Prize. She has transformed her school’s approach to reach often isolated young people so that they can engage in school life and perform to the best of their abilities.
She quickly realised that a one size fits all curriculum would not resonate with all her students so she set about redesigning it from top to bottom, alongside fellow teachers, in order to make it relevant to her pupil’s lives.
She helped a music teacher launch a Somali school choir and created alternative timetables to allow girls-only sports that would not offend conservative communities, leading the girls’ cricket team on to victory and winning the McKenzie Cup.
In her own arts class, she worked with an "Artist in Residence" (Armando Alemdar) to creatively redesign the art curriculum to promote inspiration and help pupils confront and cope with the responsibilities of their complex home circumstances. As a result, Alperton has been awarded specialist school status in visual arts.
Thanks to her efforts, Alperton Community School is now in the top one to five per cent of the country in terms of qualifications and accreditations.