$1m prize for London educator named ‘world’s best teacher’

By Verity Bowman for Theguardian.com

A woman from north London has been announced as the first British winner of a prize worth $1m (£720,000) for the world’s best teacher.

Andria Zafirakou, an arts and textiles teacher from Alperton community school in Brent, north-west London, was presented with the fourth annual Varkey Foundation Global Teacher prize in Dubai on Sunday.

She collected the honour at a ceremony attended by the former US vice president Al Gore, Tony Blair, and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.

In a congratulatory message played during the ceremony, prime minister Theresa May said the award was a “fitting tribute” for everything Zafirakou had done.

Zafirakou, who is the first UK teacher to win the award, told reporters: “I was shocked. I was completely overwhelmed. I didn’t realise it was me.”

She said teachers in the UK “work extremely hard”, adding: “This award goes out to all of us.”

Asked what she will do with the prize money, she said: “I’m going to be patient, I’m going to reflect, but as you know I think it would be really fantastic if I could think about how the arts could be celebrated even further within our school community.”

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