IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Global Teacher Prize winner stresses the importance of the arts in UCL Institute of Education talk

8 January 2019

The arts are crucial to education and are not being given the attention they deserve, UCL Institute of Education (IOE) alumna Andria Zafirakou, winner of the Global teacher Prize 2018, has declared in a talk held at the IOE.

Andria Zafirakou delivering Global Teacher Prize lecture at UCL Institute of Education

Mrs Zafirakou (PGCE Art and Design) delivered the annual Global Teacher Prize lecture to a packed audience and explored her experiences of teaching at Alperton Community School in Brent and the role of the arts in schools.

Stressing that the arts are important as they are inclusive and give pupils a voice, Mrs Zafirakou noted the opportunity the subjects offer to explore different materials, time, and resources. They possess the power to "dismantle stereotypes, convey journeys and voice opinions of societies", she added.

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Following being named the world’s best teacher in March 2018, the first UK winner of the Varkey Foundation prize, Mrs Zafirakou has met educationalists throughout the world and she expanded on some of this international work in her lecture.

An important part of this work has been the creation of her charity ‘Artists in Residence’ which aims to get more artists and arts organisations into Britain’s schools. She set up the organisation using the $1 million prize money she received upon winning the award.

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Theatre director Michael Attenborough, who is one of the project’s artists in residence, spoke of his experience working in the arts and why he became involved with the project, declaring the right to self-expression for a child is a basic human right. 

Andria Zafirakou, Becky Francis and Michael Attenborough with pupil's artwork

Mrs Zafirakou noted the importance of creating stimulating environments that people enjoy learning and teaching in and highlighted the importance of kindness in creating these environments. She ended by paying tribute to all teachers, declaring that they are role models offering children hope. 

Andria Zafirakou is a graduate of the IOE’s PGCE Art and Design. She 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. She was awarded an MBE for services to education in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List

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Credit: John Cobb