|Ms Zafirakou with Alperton students (Photo: BBC)
Andria Zafirakou an art and textiles teacher at Alperton Community School in Brent is a finalist in the Global Teachers Prize sponsored by the Varley Foundation. She has been nominated for her work with deprived pupils, working with their families at home as well as in the classroom.
She told the BBC that some pupils at her Brent secondary school have to do their homework in the bathroom, because their housing is so overcrowded.
By getting pupils to open up about their home lives, I discovered that many of my students come from crowded homes where multiple families share a single property. In fact it’s often so crowded and noisy I’ve had students tell me they have to do their homework in the bathroom, just to grab a few moments alone so they can concentrate.She had learned basic phrases in the 35 languages spoken by pupils at the school and helped teachers work with other services, such as local police and mental health specialists.
I also found that some were being forced to play truant to cook meals in the allocated time slot they were permitted to use their shared home kitchen.
Others could not participate in extra-curricular activities after school because they had to take on parental responsibilities like collecting their brothers and sisters from other schools.
In response, she organised extra lessons during the day and the weekend, including giving pupils a quiet place to work.