London teacher named as finalist for million-dollar Global Teacher Prize

A London teacher has been named as one of ten finalists in with a chance of winning a million dollars in the annual Global Teacher Prize.

Andria Zafirakou works as an art and textiles teacher at Alpterton Community School in Brent - one of the most diverse places in the country -writes itv.com

She was selected out of 30,000 nominations from 170 countries. Her school says her success comes from her deep roots with the local community there.

Ms Zafirakou said she decided to submit an application after reading about it.

When you read about why they are doing this - sharing good practice, raising the profile of teachers and how fundamental they are in society - that was why I wanted to apply.

– ANDRIA ZAFIRAKOU

The pupils at Ms Zafirakou's school, which is in one of the poorest areas of the country, come from a variety of backgrounds.

She has learnt how to say basic greetings in many of the 35 languages spoken at the school, including Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil and Portuguese, to help parents feel welcome and included.

If you have somebody who can connect with you and appreciate your background, then that's special.

– ANDRIA ZAFIRAKOU

She added that greeting someone in their language "helps to break down barriers and enables families to engage more in the school community".

Ms Zafirakou has helped to set up clubs and societies for students, 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.

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

I also found that some were being forced to play truant to cook meals in the allocated time slot they were permitted to use their shared home kitchen.

Others could not participate in extracurricular activities after school because they had to take on parental responsibilities like collecting their brothers and sisters from other schools.

– ANDRIA ZAFIRAKOU

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AndriaZafirakou AlptertonCommunitySchool Brent
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