North London teacher Andria Zafirakou becomes first UK winner of $1m international teaching prize

A north London teacher at an inner-city school has become the first ever UK winner of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, which is worth $1m (£717,000).

Andria Zafirakou, who works at Alperton Community School in Brent, north-west London, was congratulated by Theresa May for her “enormous dedication” to the profession as she was awarded the prize on Sunday.

She had spoken of the hardship and overcrowded housing conditions facing many of her pupils. And it is expected that Mrs Zafirakou will use some of her prize money to support art projects she says are vital to deprived youngsters.

Mrs Zafirakou, an arts and textiles teacher, today became the first UK winner of the prize, beating teachers nominated from more than 170 countries. 

Praise: She was commended for her work with deprived pupils in the borough

She was one of 10 finalists shortlisted for this year’s competition.

In a congratulatory video message broadcast to the ceremony in Dubai, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “You have shown enormous dedication and creativity in your work.

“Being a great teacher requires resilience, ingenuity and a generous heart. These are the qualities that you share with your students every day. So, thank you for all you have done and continue to do.”

Teacher: Ms Zafirakou holds extra lessons out of hours

She was commended for her work with deprived pupils in the borough, where some children are forced to do homework in the bathroom because they live in such crowded houses.

Ms Zafirakou holds extra lessons out of hours for such pupils and works across other services, such as police and mental health specialists, to help children in the community.

She has helped to set up clubs and societies, redesigned the curriculum with her fellow teachers to make it relevant to pupils’ lives, and is known for taking time to understand her students’ lives, such as visiting their homes, taking the bus with them and welcoming them at the school gates.

Source :