New Year Honours 2019: 'World's best teacher' appointed MBE

  • Published
Media caption,

Andria Zafirakou accepted her teaching award at a ceremony in Dubai earlier this year

A teacher at a north London secondary school who won a global competition to find the world's best teacher has been appointed MBE.

Andria Zafirakou, who teaches art and textiles at Alperton Community School in Brent, has been honoured for her services to education and young people.

Mrs Zafirakou said the appointment was a "wonderful surprise".

Mrs Zafirakou, 40, became the first UK winner of the Global Teacher Prize earlier this year.

She beat teachers nominated from more than 170 countries to win a prize worth $1m (£790,000).

Since Mrs Zafirakou joined Alperton in 2005, she has set up a boxing club, redesigned the curriculum to improve access for every student, and even conducted personal patrols outside the school to deter gang members from trying to recruit her pupils.

She has also visited students in their homes and learned basic phrases in languages such as Hindi, Tamil and Gujarati to engage with her pupils.

Image caption,
Andria Zafirakou with pupils from Alperton Community School

Mrs Zafirakou, who is an associate deputy at Alperton, said she felt "humbled, emotional and extremely proud" at receiving the honour.

Reflecting on her 13 years at the school, she said her most proud memories were "those wonderful individual stories of children who have succeeded against the odds because of your intervention".

However, she added: "I do not see this as an honour I have done all by myself. I see this as something I am receiving on behalf of my school community."

Mrs Zafirakou said she hoped to keep the news of her honour "low key" so it was "business as usual" for the children when they returned to school in January.