A UK teacher who uses Lego in her lessons is a top-10 finalist for the “world’s best teacher” award.
Shafina Vohra, a psychology teacher at the London Design and Engineering University Technical College (LDE) in Newham, east London, could win a prize of one million US dollars (£819,390) after making the final 10 shortlist of the Global Teacher Prize from more than 7,000 nominations.
The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, now in its eighth year, was set up to recognise one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.
Mrs Vohra has been shortlisted after developing new ways of teaching using Lego.
She started experimenting with the toy to teach an active, fidgety Year 7 science class and found that their learning was boosted by the exercise.
From this, the mother of two created a unique curriculum that uses Lego to engage and enhance the cognitive abilities of students at LDE.
She found that the toy is useful for keyword recall, recreating psychology studies, understanding methodology, making links between topics and for game-based learning.
Mrs Vohra was offered a funded PhD to study this kind of learning at Imperial College London.
She then went to Denmark to become a Lego education trainer in robotics and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning to show others how to use the toy as a tool for teaching.
Her curriculum is now used as a free community-based programme that helps children from lower-income areas learn STEM subjects and design engineering.
Sunny Varkey, founder of the Global Teacher Prize, said: “Congratulations to Shafina for reaching the final 10.
“Her story clearly highlights the importance of education in tackling the great challenges ahead – from climate change to growing inequality to war and conflict.
“It is only by prioritising education that we can safeguard all our tomorrows. Education is the key to facing the future with confidence.”
The other nine finalists teach in Canada, India, Pakistan, Ghana, South Africa, America, Chile, France and Ukraine.
The Global Teacher Prize 2023 award ceremony will take place on November 8 in Paris, France.