Season's Greetings from the Laidlaw Foundation! ✨

Reflecting on our 2023 milestones and wishing the Laidlaw community warmth and joy this holiday season!
Season's Greetings from the Laidlaw Foundation! ✨
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Card design by Tashreen Kaur Khurana, Rehan Ahmed and El-Jae Bell - Year 5 pupils at Thomas Walling Primary Academy, a Laidlaw Schools Trust school

As the year draws to a close, we have a lot to remember and celebrate.

Laidlaw Scholars

One of the highlights of the year was our Annual Laidlaw Scholars Conference. Hosted simultaneously at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Toronto, and online, over 400 Scholars and Laidlaw programme managers from our 17 partner universities came together to share their research and Leadership in Action experiences, collaborate, network and build their leadership skills.

The theme of the conference was “Conversations: The Art of Transformative Dialogue”. In an increasingly messy and polarised world, Laidlaw Scholars embraced the transformative power of being genuinely open to opposing views, actively exploring diverse and unsettling perspectives as a means of tackling complex global challenges. At the conference, our new ethical leadership partner, the Oxford Character Project, delivered the first of a series of workshops.

Laidlaw Scholars Conference - University of Toronto

The difficulty of leading in a complicated and unaligned state is one of the issues raised repeatedly in our Leadership Lab series, which we launched this year. Heartfelt thanks to our incredible guests: François Ortalo-Magné, Professor Dame Sally Mapstone, Gautam Mukunda, Christina Paxson, Linda Doyle and Eloïc Peyrache, all of whom gave so freely of their time and expertise, in fantastically candid, unfiltered answers to why leadership is hard and complicated, what they have learnt during their leadership journeys and advice that they would give to aspiring leaders. 

With travel restrictions finally a thing of the past, other highlights from our year were attending the first research symposium at EPFL, a superb poster presentation at the University of Hong Kong, and visiting our partner universities in North America.

As so many mature leaders in every sector and geography demonstrate an unwillingness to listen and dialogue, as well as a dearth of moral fibre, the Laidlaw Scholar’s critical thinking skills, openness to hearing opposing views, and commitment to ethical leadership give us enormous hope for the future.

EPFL Research Symposium
Visitng The University of Hong Kong Laidlaw Scholars

Laidlaw Schools Trust

The links between each of our programmes continued to strengthen in 2023. Laidlaw Scholars mentored students at the Laidlaw Schools Trust this year, providing not just valuable academic support but inspiring role models for some of our most disadvantaged pupils.

This year, Sedgefield Hardwick Primary School, which joined Laidlaw Schools Trust in 2022, was named as the most innovative school in the UK, one of the top two in Europe, and one of the ten most innovative in the world.

Sedgefield Hardwick Primary Academy named the most innovative school in the UK

The former Head, Sally Newton, was appointed as co-CEO of the Laidlaw Schools Trust, along with Rob Hughes, previously the deputy CEO.

In September, we welcomed Beacon of Light, an alternative provision school, to the Laidlaw Schools Trust. Within a month of joining, they were inspected by Ofsted and received a “good” judgement, a superb step-up from their previous judgement. We are thrilled to have them as part of the Laidlaw family and support the incredible work that they do.

This month, in partnership with Public First, we published our ground-breaking research into what schools should really be held accountable for. Building Tomorrow’s Healthy, Confident and Productive Citizens: an Education for our Children details findings and recommendations for how we can re-think education in Britain, based on extensive polling and focus groups of parents, teachers and educationalists. Its proposals have been welcomed by Labour and the education community.

Beacon of Light joined the Laidlaw Schools Trust, becoming it's ninth academy

Women in Leadership

Naveen Kler, one of our LBS Laidlaw Alumni, joined the Laidlaw Foundation Board of Trustees this year. Princess Agina, an SBS Laidlaw Alumna, joined the Foundation as our new Community and Project Management Executive. We are so delighted to bring their expertise and lived experience to our thinking and programming.

In November, we welcomed HEC Paris to our Women’s Movement. HEC Paris is the top-ranking business school in Europe. Their commitment to inclusion, diversity and social impact is exemplary. We announced our scholarships at a Women in Business dinner in Paris to celebrate fifty years of women at the business school. Applications are now open for Laidlaw Scholars, so if you know of anyone who would benefit from their world-class education and networks, please encourage them to apply.

Women in Business Laidlaw Scholarships announced at HEC Paris

Earlier this month, our CEO Susanna and Lord Laidlaw had the enormous privilege of visiting the founding and second cohort of Laidlaw Trailblazers at Trinity College Dublin. We talked about leadership, the power of role models and paying it forward.

Like our undergraduate scholars, our Trailblazers and Women in Business Scholars are extraordinary: ambitious, brave, curious about other ideas and cultures, determined to make a positive impact in the world, and fundamentally good.

Our holiday wish for us all is that we continue to strive for, and see in others, those values.

With thanks for all your support and best wishes for a wonderful 2024,

—The Laidlaw Foundation Team

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