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We are delighted that Jan Balon, Head of our lead partner school London Academy of Excellence, Tottenham (LAET), has been named as Tottenham Hotspur’s Community Captain in recognition of his incredible work in the local area.

Jan has led the school since its inception in 2017 – when 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. In 2020, LAET was named The Sunday Times Sixth Form College of the Year, sending more than 30 students to Oxbridge and many more to Russell Group Universities.

Jan was presented the accolade during a school assembly given by former player and now Club Ambassador, Jermain Defoe OBE. To celebrate Jan’s inspirational work, he was awarded a PL30 Community Captain armband, pennant and a plaque engraved with his name, which has been added to the Premier League Trophy plinth.

L-R Adam Pettitt, Jermain Defoe and Jan Balon

One of the students at LAET attending the presentation said: “Jan is so deserving of this award, he has given us so many opportunities, as well as the academic rigor needed to get to the top and fulfil our potential.”

Jan said: “Winning the award is a great symbol of the work that has gone on here in the last five years, I am proud of myself, but more importantly proud of all the students that have studied here, all the staff and the club who have made the school what it is today. Studying in the environment of an elite institution like Tottenham Hotspur raises the bar for the students and I am so thankful to be part of the academy and encourage more young people within our community to make the most of this opportunity that exists on their doorstep.”

The school is situated in one of the most deprived wards in the country, with 63 percent coming from the lowest two social groups – being described as living in ‘struggling estates’ or ‘difficult circumstances’ – using the ACORN tool for socio-economic analysis. Highgate provides governance and is the lead educational sponsor, seconding 15 teachers and three support staff. A year-round programme of initiatives and events enables pupils to develop meaningful partnerships across the two schools.

Adam Pettitt, Head of Highgate School and Deputy Chair of Governors at LAET, said: “Jan will tell us that LAET’s success is most important in providing the hard evidence of the talent and commitment of Tottenham’s young people and their families. He is right, and I am hugely proud of the achievements which his brilliant team of teachers and support staff have helped bring to fruition: it’s been a massive privilege for Highgate to have played a part in that, we have made firm friendships and found a high-achieving partner in LAET who holds up the mirror of excellence and ambition to all young people. But it does take a leader of integrity, passion and grit to make this happen – I am delighted that the Club is so publicly and brilliantly identifying Jan as that person.”