Andria Zafirakou wins $1m as she is named world's best teacher for work at school in one of UK's most deprived areas

Lucy Pasha-Robinson

A woman from north London has been named the world’s best teacher and honoured with a $1m (£717,000) prize.

Andria Zafirakou, an arts and textiles teacher from Alperton Community School in Brent, north-west London, has won the fourth annual Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize – the first UK teacher to win the prestigious award.

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.”

Accepting her award, Ms Zafirakou said: “The community where I teach in Brent is beautifully diverse and indeed is one of the most multicultural communities in the world.”

She added: “It is also a community where many of our students unfortunately live in challenging circumstances. They have tough lives.

“What is amazing, is whatever issues they are having at home, whatever is missing from their life or causing them pain, our school is theirs.

“I know if our school could open at six o’clock in the morning, there would be a queue of children waiting outside at five o’clock in the morning. That’s how phenomenal they are.”

Ms Zafirakou beat finalists drawn from 30,000 entries, from 173 countries, including Turkey, South Africa, Colombia, Philippines, United States, Brazil, Belgium, Australia and Norway.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “Andria’s story of selflessness and dedication is truly inspiring, and I am thrilled that she has received international recognition for her fantastic achievements.

“Great education is all about great people, and Andria embodies the huge difference teachers can make to children’s lives.”

Additional reporting by PA