Institute of Education


Alumna named as Global Teacher Prize finalist

15 February 2018

Andria Zafirakou

UCL Institute of Education (IOE) alumna Andria Zafirakou (PGCE Art and Design) has been named as a top 10 finalist in the 2018 Global Teacher Prize.

Ms Zafirakou, who works at Alperton Community School in Brent, was shortlisted from more than 30,000 people for the award, which has a prize of $1 million.

Technology billionaire Bill Gates revealed the nominations, commenting that education is the "master switch" for progress in society and individual lives.

Aside from her work as an art and textiles teacher and member of the senior leadership team, Ms Zafirakou was nominated for earning the trust of her pupils and their families to help understand the complex lives they’ve come from. With this knowledge, she redesigned the curriculum across all subjects from scratch – carefully working alongside other teachers – to have it resonate with her pupils.

She helped a music teacher launch a Somali school choir and she created alternative timetables to allow girls–only sports that would not offend conservative communities.

Her work has included helping vulnerable pupils to stay out of danger by escorting them home, visiting their families, and setting up clubs and societies to keep them off the streets. Gangs regularly target the secondary school, which is in one of the poorest areas of the country, to recruit pupils – but the school does everything it can to keep them safe, Ms Zafirakou said.

She also leads on professional development within Alperton Community School in order to help teachers develop their skills. The school is one of fewer than 10 to be honoured with the prestigious Quality Mark Platinum Award.

Ms Zafirakou is also a graduate of Leadership CoLab’s National Professional Qualification Senior Leadership programme. This is a partnership between the London Centre for Leadership in Learning (LCLL) based at the IOE and over 200 schools and partners.

The Global Teacher Prize committee makes its assessments based on the candidates’ success in the classroom, their innovative teaching practices, their achievements in the wider community and their example to others who might want to become teachers.

The prize serves to underline the importance of educators and the fact that, throughout the world, their efforts deserve to be recognised and celebrated. It seeks to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers – not only on their students but on the communities around them.

The prize was set up four years ago by the Varkey Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation established to improve the standards of education for underprivileged children throughout the world.

The winner will be announced next month at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.


Rowan Walker, UCL Media Relations
+44 (0)20 3108 8516