Mon, 12 April 2021

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm BST

Melvyn Bragg Meets Andria Zafirakou, Winner of the $1 Million Global Teacher Prize

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The world’s ‘most exceptional’ educator delivers a wake-up call that shows what life is really like for schoolchildren today.

Andria Zafirakou was always a rule-breaker. At her school where over thirty languages are spoken, she sensed urgent needs; mending uniforms, calling social services, shielding vulnerable teens from gangs. And she tailored each class to its pupils, fiercely believing in the power of art to unlock trauma, or give a mute child the confidence to speak. Time and again, she would be proved right.

So in 2018, when Andria won the $1 million dollar Global Teacher Prize – dubbed ‘the Nobel of teaching’ – she knew exactly where the money would go: back into arts education for all. Andria set up Artists in Residence, a charity that brings professional artists into disadvantaged schools across the UK. Because today, the UK government’s cuts and curriculum changes are destroying the arts, while their refusal to tackle the most dangerous threats faced by children – cyber-bullying, gang violence, hunger and deprivation – puts teachers on the safeguarding frontline.

In conversation with Melvyn Bragg, she joins us to explore the new realities of the classroom today as well as the huge challenges and cherished successes of the other heroes of the coronavirus pandemic: teachers. She will call on us to recognise the true value of the arts for children across the UK, and share moving stories of her pupils which echo the everyday experiences of schoolchildren not just across the UK, but the wider world.

Praise for Andria Zafirakou:

‘A magic combination of belief and compassion’ – Financial Times

‘Andria Zafirakou should be an inspiration to all’ – i Paper

‘Zafirakou’s generosity offers a gleam of hope in a world that can seem unremittingly dark’ – Guardian

‘An amazing person . . . What struck me was just her sheer joy’ – Jeremy Vine, BBC Radio 2

‘Where others might have given up, Andria has made it her mission to ensure [her students] get the best possible start in life’ – Daily Mail

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Melvyn Bragg

Broadcaster and award-winning author

Melvyn Bragg joined the BBC in 1961, and published his first novel For Want of a Nail in 1965. By that time he had become a Director on Huw Wheldon’s Arts programme Monitor. In 1977 he started The South Bank Show for LWT which he continues to edit and present for Sky Arts. He has presented the Radio 4 programme on Science, History and Religion, In Our Time, since 1998. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society and of The British Academy. He is a member of Chelsea Arts Club and The Garrick.

Andria Zafirakou

Teacher and World Economic Forum Cultural Leader

Andria Zafirakou has worked her entire teaching career of fourteen years at Alperton Community School, where she is an art and textiles teacher and Associate Deputy Headteacher. Her willingness to go above and beyond for her students saw her win the Global Teacher Prize in March 2018. In 2019, she was appointed an MBE for her services to education. She is a Culture Leader for the World Economic Forum and a member of the Global Future Leaders Council, and has been named one of the top ten most influential people in London by the Evening Standard.