Jan Balon has been named Tottenham Hotspur's Premier League Community Captain in recognition of his incredible work in the local area as headteacher of the London Academy of Excellence Tottenham (LAET).
LAET is a sixth-form academy sponsored by Spurs and located on the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium campus, in partnership with co-sponsor Highgate School, a top Haringey independent school, seconding 15 teachers and three support staff as well as governors.
Jan was presented with the accolade during a school assembly given by former player and now Tottenham Hotspur 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.
LAET prioritises local students who are most likely to benefit from an academically rigorous curriculum and those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, giving Tottenham's brightest students the best possible chance of accessing top universities.
This is in the context of the school being situated within one of the two per cent most-deprived wards in the country, with 63 per cent of its student body 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.
Jan has overseen the school's incredible progression within a short space of time. It was named The Sunday Times Sixth Form College of the Year in 2020, sending more than 30 students to Oxbridge and many more to Russell Group universities.
Jan, who has masterminded partnerships with independent schools across London to support his students’ learning and success, has been the school’s head since it opened in 2017 and has been awarded the Community Captain prize for his enthusiasm, inspiration and dedication to the students.
The Community Captain accolade is being given to more than 100 members of the public who have made an outstanding contribution to their club and local community, as part of the Premier League’s 30th anniversary celebrations.
Presentations to the Captains form part of the Premier League Trophy Tour, which is visiting more than 50 professional, non-league and women’s clubs across England and Wales who receive funding from the Premier League.
Defoe said: “I am so excited to be here to give Jan this award today. He is someone who has inspired hundreds of students on their way to success, including helping those with disadvantaged backgrounds achieve their potential.
"Growing up in the East End of London, I would have loved an opportunity like this to further my education and fulfil my dreams.”
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.”
One of the pupils 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.”
A driving ethos behind the club building its new stadium was the regeneration of the local area and the opportunities it would bring to young people in our community.
The Club provides financial backing and facilities for LAET and also helped raise £30,000 in an auction of player-signed merchandise to extend its mental health provision for students.