Open Menu Close Menu Open Search Close Search

This document will summarize the 2021 Cohort Laidlaw Central Project options. Below is the list of potential projects and the details are included in the following pages.

  • Biteback Research projects – Virtual projects Jamie Oliver’s UK non-profit solving nutrition issues
  • Change the Code – Starting a local program focused on closing the STEM gender gap
  • Durham University – Chris Brown MAT education research projects

Other non-profits could also be considered for Laidlaw projects but would need prior approval by the Laidlaw Administrator.

  • Biteback Research projects

1·  Local area health mapping: we know our unhealthiest high streets are very often our poorest.  But do we really know what they look like?  Do we know what it’s like living there and the options young people walking those streets have?  We want to understand the health of our five unhealthiest high streets and the people that live there.  Can we map the health of an area through advertising, takeaways, food outlets near schools; can we interview young people in places where they hang out in local communities to develop a plan of how an area could become healthier; can we find a way to bring this lived reality to life for decision makers and public health officials so they make different policy choices? Can you communicate this in a creative way through Google maps, filming high streets, developing an app.

2·  Campaign development: support Bite Back 2030 to develop campaigns on three major issues in 2021.

o Water: away from convenience stores and offers on fizzy drinks, 50% of young people started drinking more tap water under lockdown. They want it to continue.  It’s healthy, sustainable and free.  But how do we do it?  Water fountains are unattractive, not every young person has a water bottle (is it cool?), and all the marketing pours into energy drinks, soft drinks and fruit juices.  How do we shift the system to make water the go to drink for young people?

o Sports sponsorship: delayed by a year 2021 will see the Tokyo Olympics.  Its main sponsor…Coca Cola and McDonalds.  Any idea who the main sponsor was for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics…big tobacco. Think about how our attitudes have changed about tobacco.  Is it right our main sponsors for the biggest showcase in world sport are fast food?  How do we start a campaign to stop this?  2022 is the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.  Could this be the first healthy games?

3·  Policy development:

o Fiscal reform: the Sugar Tax introduced in 2018 has been phenomenally successful.  It has driven down sugar in drinks by 28% and generated revenue for school sport.  What should be the next wave of incentives, taxes and subsidies to drive healthier food production and consumption?  It ties into sustainability too – there’s been talk of red meat taxes – and health such as a saturated fat tax or salt tax.  Help us define how HM Treasury should nudge the food market.

4·  Youth movements/Bite Back 2030 review: this is a research project looking at mobilisation and organising models for activism that will define Bite Back 2030’s strategy.  Youth activism and youth-led movements are growing around the world.  Fridays for our Future, the A Level marches, the Sunrise Movement.  Can you interview young people engaging with Bite Back 2030 to understand our model, find out what is effective, research global organising models like XR and then propose changes to the Bite Back 2030 model to improve it.

5·  Youth insights 2.0: when Bite Back 2030 we started with three insights that would engage young people in a healthier food system.  They were food and sustainability i.e. future of the planet, food and injustice e.g. Rashford’s food poverty campaign, and food and manipulation i.e. how fast food create ads to manipulate young people into buying their products.  We want to undertake the next phase of research into youth insights to understand key issues related to young people and the Bite Back 2030 mission and go deeper into what drives their behaviours e.g. why do young people hang out in chicken shops or not eat school food.  We can then use this to look at how the youth insights align to our impact goals and shape campaigns and communications.

Potential Scholars will need to define a research topic in one of the above areas and find an academic supervisor who also works in this field.

James Toop is the CEO of Biteback  and he can be contacted by email on (


  • Change the Code 

This initiative was set up by a former Laidlaw scholar  Chhavi Sharma – an HKU Scholar who launched an organisation called Change The Code. They aim to close the gender gap in STEM by offering free coding workshops to young girls in schools. For now, they are operating in Hong Kong and India but would like to expand globally.

The purpose of the organisation?

The goal behind Change the Code is to bridge the gender gap in STEM fields. The team at CTC is dedicated towards providing exposure to girls at a young age and encourage them to pursue subjects related to science, technology and engineering. We want female students to gain scientific/technical skills, receive mentorship and guidance and become a part of a strong positive encouraging network.

Progress to date?

Change the Code has been up and running since 2019. We spent the first few months building our teams, getting funding, getting mentors, building a curriculum before actually reaching out to students.

Till now we have recruited and trained 20 tech instructors, conducted 4 workshops, in 3 countries for over 100 girls with age ranging 10 years to 24 years. With every workshop that we conduct, we tackle new problems and find solutions to make the process more streamlined and effective in order to make maximum impact.

Plans for the future?

Change the Code is rapidly expanding across the globe. With the pandemic we saw an opportunity to expand to various different locations without needing to be physically present. While we have teams based in India and Bangladesh locally, the executive body is able to oversee all activities in all locations in real time. In the coming months we want to focus on developing more curriculum to improve the technical skills and exposure of our students. We also want to collect data to conduct research on which of our best practices work better than the others in order to continue doing what we do well and improve what we don’t. Finally, we want to reach as many girls and women as possible and provide them skills alongside mentorship and support to learn, grow and achieve their dreams.

How can the scholar assist?

A scholar can wear multiple hats and contribute immensely towards our cause.

A first year scholar focused on research can understand the working model we have in place and conduct research on any aspect of it that he or she might appeal to. Some examples are: (i) why girls choose non-science based careers (ii) how females contribute to a workplace (iii) impact made my online mode of teaching vs offline in class teaching (iv) how much time it takes for students to grasp STEM concepts vs non STEM concepts (v) how many lessons are needed to truly get a girl interested in technology (vi) which course curriculum is more appealing and why (vii) prevalence of STEM subjects in socially disadvantaged societies This is merely scratching the surface. There is a plethora or research opportunities in the field all of which can be extremely intriguing as well as add value to CTC and other organisations with similar goals. A second year scholar focused on leadership can help start their own local chapters of CTC. They can recruit new members (volunteers from local schools and universities) or work together to build their team. A lot of work goes into a successful workshop: (i) building teams (ii) building curriculum ( they can choose to use our preexisting curriculum or build new based on their research findings) (iii) marketing to students, subsequent communication, etc. (iv) design posters, material for social media campaigns (v)

training instructors to teach the curriculum (vi) looking for suitable chief guest/mentors (vii) managing the meeting real time ( breakout rooms, etc. ) (viii) raising funds if required (ix) collaborating with local NGOs, schools, universities to deliver workshop, build network, find mentors and mentees

Activities, outcomes and benefits?

Apart from the above, activities can include: – Daily tasks like sprint meetings (agile team, working style), – First few days to identify role and responsibility within the team, make a plan of tangible weekly goals – Weekly catchup with us or representative of Laidlaw foundation – Writing emails to schools, NGOs, students, guest speakers, etc, cold calling, sending calendar invites – Designing graphics/posters for social media campaigns, certificates for participating students – Designing presentation slides for the curriculum delivery – Training teaching instructors ( try to make teaching style, methodology uniform across different cohorts)

Any leadership / team work experience will teach you how to: – Manage a team – Delegate work – Learn to listen, have empathy – Dealing with conflict – Social skills, emotional intelligence – Problem solving – Organisation skills, being methodical, adhering to timelines

What skills are needed to do the placement successfully and any logistical issues?

Any student passionate about the cause and driven towards making an impact can be places successfully in the program. Having technical skills may be a plus but is definitely not a pre requisite for being placed. Anyone who is proactive, takes initiative, is a team player and has a good work ethic will be a good fit for the program.

What support the scholars will receive from you and your co-workers?

All of us at Change the Code are extremely excited about the collaboration and would be ready to help in any and every way possible. We are available for daily/weekly catchups. We can help the scholars work out a plan of action in the first few days for the remainder of the summer. We can be mentors and can help them navigate situations with their other teammates better. We can share our curriculum with the scholars, share are best practices, teaching tips. We can also loan our instructors in case technical expertise is needed to design curriculum as well as teach it. We would like to provide support in any which way the scholars or the Laidlaw foundation needs from us.

Change the Code Contact Information:


  • Durham University MAT Projects

Proposed Laidlaw Scholar work programme

Professor Chris Brown, Durham University School of Education (

Topic area 1: Achieving effective home school relationships

Subtopic 1: home schooling

·       Year 1 question: What does it take to make home schooling effective?

·       Year 1 or Year 2 question: What support is required to help families engage in home learning effectively?

·       Year 2 question: Which strategies are most effective at enlisting parents to support literacy

Subtopic 2: connecting with hard to reach parents

·       Year 1 question: What are hard to reach parent’s views on school and schooling?

·       Year 2 question: How can we engage more effectively with hard to reach parents (including the role of peers/peer groups and communities)?

·       Year 2 question: what are the social networks of hard to reach parents – who are the opinion formers?

Subtopic 3: building effective networks that can aid learning

·       Year 1 question: What are the cultural and social capital networks of children and parents in disadvantaged households?

·       Year 2 question: What are the barriers and enablers to building broader cultural and social capital networks that can lead to improved family and student outcomes?

Subtopic 4: transition

·       Year 1 question: How can parents help with effective primary to secondary transition?

Topic area 2: MATs and the wider community

Subtopic 1: Area-based (and multi-service) approaches to enhancing children’s outcomes

·       Year 1 question: What are the needs of the wider communities (being served by Laidlaw Foundation MATs)? Which agencies do or might potentially address these needs?

·       Year 1 question: How can the MAT catalyse wider community service providers to support children improve their educational outcomes (barriers and enablers to working together effectively)?

·       Year 2 question: What is the role of other service-provider leaders in ensuring area based approaches can operate, sustain and deliver change?

Topic area 3: MAT networks, leadership and approaches to improvement

Subtopic 1: Network based approaches to school improvement

·       Year 1 question: How might Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) be used to improve teaching and learning across MAT schools?

·       Year 1 question: What is the role of school leadership in ensuring PLNS can operate, sustain and deliver change?

·       Year 2 question: What is the role of teachers as change agents in their schools?

·       Year 2 question: How do social networks operate within schools and which teachers are most influential?

Subtopic 2: Evidence-informed school improvement

·       Year 1 question: What is the view of MAT leaders and teachers on using research and data to improve teaching and learning? What are the barriers and what are the enablers?

·       Year 1 question: To what extent should MAT’s embrace a consistent approach to T&L and a standardised curriculum through their schools?

·       Year 2 question: How might approaches such as lesson study and joint practice development be used to generate continuous and evidence-informed approaches improvements in teaching and learning?

·       Year 2 question: How can we ascertain impact most effectively and use impact tools to ensure MAT schools are employing the most effective practices?

Topic area: 4: Digital Learning

Subtopic 1: Learning from home

·       Year 1 question: What are the digital lives of students? How might we use social media, and video games as a way of enhancing teaching and learning?

·       Year 1 question: How do we create a seamless blend of in-class and at-home learning?

·       Year 1 question: The relative merits of synchronous and asynchronous teaching

 Subtopic 2: Digital Pedagogy

·       Year 1 question: How can the gamification of learning produce behaviour change?

·       Year 1 question:  What is the impact of AI on learning acquisition, differentiation and retention?

·       Year 1 question: Whose content delivers the best results? How do schools choose from third party content providers and teacher produced lessons?

Other topic areas for students to propose research on:

  •       Mental health and well-being
  •       Aspiration and careers
  •       Values based assessment
  •       Sport and nutrition