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Last week, pupils from Highgate and our partner school London Academy of Excellence, Tottenham, hosted their ‘Bridging the Gap’ conference, looking at social mobility and breaking class barriers in education.

A keynote speech from local Tottenham MP, David Lammy, alongside a video message from Chair of the Education Select Committee, Robin Walker MP, focused on themes of attracting teachers, future funding of education and how to break down barriers. Other themes to emerge throughout the day included the ‘gaps’ across the country, the relationship between poverty, socio-demographics and education, and the future of educational policy.

The 100 students in the audience, drawn from other local state and independent schools, also heard from Marc Leckie, the CEO of Tottenham Hotspur Foundation about how sport can break down barriers and encourage collaboration and partnerships.

Donna Ward, the Director of Strategic Policy Directorate for the Department for Education (DfE) took part in a panel alongside two students from LAET and Highgate and their respective heads, Jan Balon and Adam Pettitt.

Adam Pettitt, Head of Highgate, said: “The impressive work of the Highgate pupils alongside LAET is a shining example of what can happen when we unleash the next generation. From organizing speakers from the shadow cabinet, civil service and a high-profile football club, this conference is a testament to the hard work of them all.”

Jan Balon and Adam Pettitt take part in the biennial sponsored walk, one of the many joint initiatives between the two schools.

London Academy of Excellence, Tottenham, is a selective, free sixth form college for children in the Tottenham area. It was jointly founded by Highgate and Tottenham Hotspur to educate local students most likely to benefit from an academically-rigorous curriculum and those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds.

We work closely together to embed a sense of community between the two schools. Throughout their time in sixth form, pupils have the opportunity to meet and collaborate on a variety of initiatives – from academic events, UK and US university admissions workshops, joint performance opportunities, career mentoring and joint fundraiser walks.

Jan Balon, Head of LAET, added: “The students from both schools have done something fantastic this week. Months of their own hard work, initiative and vision have paid off. They have hosted a variety of informative guests, and managed to plan an event where they gave their peers and students from other schools the chance to express their views on areas where they feel inequality is an issue, but also how we can combat it.”