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UK teacher wins global best teacher prize

UK teacher wins global best teacher prize
From BBC - March 18, 2018

A teacher from north London has been announced as winner of a competition to find the world's best teacher.

Andria Zafirakou, who teaches art and textiles in a Brent secondary school, has won a prize worth $1m (720,000).

She has spoken of the hardship and overcrowded housing conditions facing many of her pupils.

It is expected that Mrs Zafirakou will use some of her prize money to support art projects - which she says are vital to deprived youngsters.

First UK winner

Mrs Zafirakou becomes the first UK winner of the Global Teacher Prize, beating teachers nominated from more than 170 countries.

The prize, launched in 2015 by an education charity, the Varkey Foundation, was created to give more status to the teaching profession, with an Oscars-style awards ceremony in Dubai.

Prime Minister Theresa May sent a video message commending Mrs Zafirakou and the hard work of teachers.

Racing driver Lewis Hamilton, Olympic champion Mo Farah, former US vice president Al Gore and former UK prime minister Tony Blair were part of the event honouring the north London teacher.

The teacher from Alperton Community School has been praised for her work with the local community as well as with pupils.

She says the mix of people and languages in this part of north London is a "beautiful challenge" which creates a "buzzing" atmosphere.

It is claimed as one of the most ethnically diverse places in the UK, with 130 different languages spoken in the London borough.

She has learned basic phrases in languages such as Hindi, Tamil and Gujarati and has visited homes to build links with the school.

Mrs Zafirakou has been praised for making her pupils feel secure, working with the police to make sure they travel to and from school in safety.

And she will have to stay in teaching, because a condition of the prize is remaining as a teacher for at least the next five years.

Quiet place to work

When she reached the top 10 shortlist, she spoke of the disadvantages facing many of her pupils.

"By getting pupils to open up about their home lives, I discovered that many of my students come from crowded homes where multiple families share a single property," said Mrs Zafirakou.

"It's often so crowded and noisy I have had students tell me they have to do their homework in the bathroom, just to grab a few moments alone so they can concentrate."

The nominations from Andria's school said:

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