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New Year’s Honours: Alperton Community School’s star teacher Andria Zafirakou made MBE

PUBLISHED: 22:30 28 December 2018

Alperton Community School teacher Andria Zafirakou?. Photo by Alperton Community School

Alperton Community School teacher Andria Zafirakou?. Photo by Alperton Community School

Archant

A champion of the arts at school has been made an MBE by the Queen in her New Year’s Honours List 2019.

No stranger to recognition, Andria Zafirakou can add the royal seal of approval to the £720,000 Varkey Foundation Global Teacher prize which she bagged earlier this year for her seismic impact upon Alperton Community School as an arts and textiles teacher.

Now an associate deputy headteacher of the mixed comprehensive academy, the 40-year-old has been recognised by Her Majesty for services to education and young people in Brent.

Andria’s commitment to students takes myriad forms, from forming a boxing club where children can channel their energy, to patrolling the streets outside the school to deter gang members from attempting to recruit her students.

One of her greatest innovations was to bring police officers, mental health workers and teachers together to discuss with the pupils from a 360 degree viewpoint.

Andria has been lauded by her fellow teachers at Alperton for taking the time to understand student lives beyond school by visiting their homes, riding with them on the bus and sometimes standing at the school gates with police officers to welcome pupils as they arrive at the start of the school day.

She has also learnt basic “hello” and “goodbye” greetings in many of the 35 languages spoken at the school, including Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil and Portuguese. This is vital as 85 per cent of kids at the school do not have English as their first language.

After scooping the global teacher prize, and becoming the first British teacher to do so since the award was established 20 years ago, Andria used the funds to set up Artists in Residence, championing creative subjects at state schools in disadvantaged areas.

Her campaign, supported by Melvyn Bragg and Simon Schama, comes at a time when arts subjects are being in squeezed out of the curriculum in the face of cuts from central government.

The project will begin as a pilot involving 30 disadvantaged schools in the capital, before widening to the whole of London and then rolling out to the rest of the UK in 2019.

For more information on how you can apply for the scheme visit artistsinresidence.org.uk.

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