Education: schools in London

Bates Wells

Bates Wells' 'highly responsive, knowledgeable and solution-orientated' education team is led by Caraline Johnson, who has over two decades of experience in the sector. The team's main strengths lie in the restructuring of the state school landscape into academies, the development of multi-academy trusts and contentious matters such as discrimination claims. The firm also offers cross-departmental expertise in areas such as charity law and commercial law to national and international clients. Key names to note include employment lawyer William Garnett, public law specialist Emma Dowden-Teale and Paul Jennings, who is recommended for his expertise in discrimination law.

Practice head(s):

Caraline Johnson

Other key lawyers:

William Garnett; Paul Jennings; Emma Dowden-Teale; Jean Tsang; Megan Read; Louise Rea


‘William Garnett provides superb support and service, which is highly practical and solution orientated. He always goes the extra mile to ensure that his customers get the desired outcome.’

Key clients

Sky School

Mulberry Schools Trust

Abbots Bromley School

The city of London Corporation and the City of London Academies Trust

Bellevue Place Education Trust

Catch22 Multi-Academy Trust

The Urdang Academy

Core Education Trust, Birmingham (formerly Park View Educational Trust, one of the ‘Trojan Horse’ schools)

Cobham Free School

Work highlights

  • Provided advice and assistance to Sky School, an educational organisation, on its successful registration with the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

Browne Jacobson LLP

Browne Jacobson LLP 'epitomises the saying "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" and is simply exceptional' in its delivery of a diverse range of education expertise to its large client base. Led by Nottingham-based Mark Blois, the team is skilled in handling complex merger and restructuring matters, offering tailored and strategic advice to schools and academies, and representing clients in litigation proceedings. Core members of the team include the 'amazing' Julia GreenNick MacKenzie, who is recommended for corporate and governance matters; Richard Freeth; and Adrian Shardlow.

Practice head(s):

Mark Blois

Other key lawyers:

Nick MacKenzie; Julia Green; Lydia Michaelson-Yeates; Adrian Shardlow; Richard Freeth; Ian Deakin


‘The level of service at Browne Jacobson at every level is impeccable. They are both efficient in their response and professional in their service.’

‘Nick McKenzie is simply brilliant. Nothing is ever too much for him. He is professional yet personable, and ensures the very best outcomes.’

‘All the individuals we work with at Browne Jacobson deserve recognition. However, Julia Green is the linchpin and has been instrumental in developing a positive working relationship.’

‘Lydia Michaelson-Yeates has been fantastic throughout. She is always contactable and always responds in a very timely manner, which is invaluable. Lydia also makes the complex subject matter easy to understand by communicating in a way that is relatable, without wrapping it up in legal jargon.’

Key clients

Greenwood Academy Trust

Academy Transformation Trust

Community Inclusive Trust

Chorus Education Trust

Nottingham Diocese

Dronfield Junior School

The Elliot Foundation Academies Trust

Brooke Weston MAT

Thomas Deacon Educational Trust

Atlantic Centre of Excellence MAT

Lighthouse Schools Partnership

Arthur Terry Learning Partnership

Bright Futures Educational Trust

Challenge Academy Trust

Forward as One

Optimus Education

Camborne Science & International MAT

Confederation of School Trusts

Central Learning Partnership Trust

Loxford School Trust Ltd

Outwood Grange Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising various education sector clients on academy transfer and rebrokerage projects.
  • Providing employment and HR advice to schools, academies and multi-academy trusts.
  • Supporting schools, academies and multi-academy trusts with special educational needs legal obligations.
  • Providing a comprehensive range of property law advice to schools, academies and multi-academy trusts.
  • Representing the Teaching Regulation Agency in relation to conduct and competency cases brought against teachers.

Farrer & Co

Farrer & Co's 'high-quality and fully engaged' education team continues to be at the forefront of acting for national schools on issues such as safeguarding, child protection, data protection and immigration. The team is led by Jonathan Eley and Sam Macdonald, and has a strong reputation for handling high-value, complex and sensitive work for clients. Recent highlights include several cross-border matters led by David Copping and David Smellie relating to the establishment of overseas institutions. Other core members of the group include contracts lawyer Paul Jones; newly made-up partner Maria Strauss, who has experience advising faith-based schools; and Ben Longworth.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Eley; Sam Macdonald


‘The team has a real in-depth experience of all the issues faced by schools with a particularly strong focus on safeguarding. They have a great understanding of independent schools and charity governance.’

‘Farrers provide an exceptional level of responsiveness with advice that is second to none. They have strength and depth across the team, with a clear sense of a sophisticated, nuanced house style.’

‘David Smellie is a very good tactical thinker, has oodles of experience and is very pragmatic, which is very reassuring.’

‘Jonathan Eley is excellent – he’s not afraid to challenge the client.’

Key clients

Winchester College

Eton College

Harrow School



Downe House

Alpha Plus Group

Grey Coat Hospital

Westminster School

Independent Schools’ Bursars Association

Work highlights

  • Working closely with the Council of International Schools’ International Taskforce on Child Protection to devise an international protocol for managing allegations of child abuse by educators and other adults.
  • Assisting the Department for Education with the drafting of new guidance relating to sexual violence and harassment between children in schools and colleges.
  • Advising St Paul’s Girls School on its handling of multiple allegations of historic abuse by former pupils.
  • Advised Winchester College on an incident involving a pupil convicted of a petrol bombing on the M3 motorway.
  • Continued to advise a number of leading independent schools on overseas collaborations for the launch of new schools with international partners.

Stone King LLP

Stone King LLP is renowned for its education work and is described as a 'go-to' firm for schools and higher education bodies. The team is skilled in advising state-funded schools on governance matters, high-profile transfers, mergers and establishing separate entities. Graham Burns has particular expertise is recommended for his ability to handle high-value and high-profile M&A in the academy sector, while Stephen Ravenscroft is experienced in advising on education projects and is knowledgeable in the NGO field. The team also provides specialist advice to faith schools, with Lee Coley heading up Church of England schools matters.

Practice head(s):

Graham Burns; Roger Inman; Tom Morrison; Helen Tucker

Other key lawyers:

Stephen Ravenscroft; Lee Coley

Key clients

United Church Schools Trust

The Collaborative Academies Trust

Oasis Community Learning

Future Academies

TBAP Trust

Learning in Harmony Multi Academy Trust

Community Schools Trust

Hasmonean High School

Greenshaw Learning Trust (previously Greenshaw High School)

Enfield Learning Trust

NAS Academies Trust

The Baker Dearing Trust

Peterborough Diocesan Board of Education

The Diocese of Worcester Multi Academy Trust

Leicester Diocesan Board of Education

Coventry Diocesan Board of Education

Greenshaw Learning Trust

David Ross Education Trust (DRET)

Work highlights

  • Handling the establishment of a seven-school multi-academy trust in Leicestershire, involving both academy conversions and transfers.
  • Advising on the establishment of a new seven-school church majority multi-academy trust in Kent.
  • Successfully prevented the issue of judicial review proceedings for a large alternative provision multi-academy trust.
  • Successfully defended a client against a complex disability discrimination claim relating to the exclusion of a child from a school trip.
  • Handled the negotiation of a settlement leading to the withdrawal of a claim relating to the permanent exclusion of a child with obsessive-compulsive disorder.


At VWV, the education practice group has an impressive client roster spanning leading independent schools, academies and colleges. Jointly overseen by Barney Northover and Yvonne Spencer who is recommended for her insight on complex matters such as serious disciplinary cases, the team combines employment and education law expertise to offer a broad service, which includes sector strengths in corporate and commercial, real estate, immigration and litigation matters. Employment lawyer Simon Bevan remains the key name to note. Other team members include Bettina Rigg, Emma-Jane Dalley and Naseem Nabi.

Practice head(s):

Yvonne Spencer; Barney Northover

Moore Barlow

Barlow Robbins LLP acts for an impressive roster of clients which includes several high-profile schools. Led by the 'exceptionalJoanna Lada-Walicki, the team combines charity and education law expertise to cover a wide range of education matters, including employment issues, mergers, commercial contracts and governance. Ben Collingwood has a focus on safeguarding and pastoral care issues.

Practice head(s):

Joanna Lada-Walicki

Other key lawyers:

Ben Collingwood; Gordon Reid


Ben Collingwood is outstanding in his measured advice, wise counsel and ability to analyse situations with great clarity and perception at great speed.

Barlow Robbins’ education and charities department is exceptional due to key partners such as Joanna Lada Walicki, who is exceptional and outstanding in her advice, experience, professionalism, and value for money.’

Joanna Lada-Walicki is an expert in employment law and has worked for a long time in this sector. She understands the sector very well from all angles and gives excellent advice.’

‘Joanna Lada-Walicki is very diligent, very supportive and provides much-valued help and advice.’

Gordon Reid is very helpful and provided very tailored advice when needed.’

Key clients


West Buckland School

Boarding Schools’ Association

Independent Schools Examinations Board

Eastbourne College

Bede’s School

Hurstpierpoint College

Seaford College

Lewes Old Grammar School

Prior’s Field School

Work highlights

  • Advised a leading independent day and boarding school for pupils on complex staff disciplinary and pastoral/safeguarding issues, involving parent complaints and an emergency inspection.
  • Advised a co-educational preparatory school in London in connection with allegations of bullying from the parent of a former pupil, including threatened litigation.
  • Advised a leading co-educational senior boarding and day school regarding concerns about the head of nursing following convictions for drug-driving, disclosure of alcohol dependency, and incapacity due to drug/alcohol at work.
  • Audited a large co-educational boarding and day school’s historic records of allegations of sexual abuse and conducted a safeguarding audit.
  • Advised a girls’ boarding and day school in relation to allegations of malpractice in GCSE coursework assessments.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

The education practice at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP has considerable experience in the academies sector and is renowned for acting as a 'one-stop-shop' for all of the legal needs of schools. Jointly overseen by Ben Wood and Diane Gilhooley, the team has sector strengths in commercial property (where Charlotte Tanikal is particularly active), corporate law and regulatory matters, enabling it to handle complex restructurings, mergers and conversions. The team also handles judicial review proceedings and the management of social media issues such as defamation. Other team members include Glynne Stanfield, who leads the international education practice area; employment lawyer Nicola Bennison, who leads the national student team; and Helen Cairns. The corporate education practice has been strengthened with the appointment of Jon Baskerville to the partnership.

Practice head(s):

Diane Gilhooley; Ben Wood

Other key lawyers:

Glynne Stanfield; Nicola Bennison; Helen Cairns; Charlotte Tanikal


‘Helen Cairns is an outstanding legal professional. Her support and advice is always incredibly measured. Helen’s calm demeanor immediately enables one to relax providing assurance as nothing is too much trouble’.

‘High level of expertise gained through substantial experience working in the field of education’.

‘A personal approach is gained through developing relationships which are supported by regular update/keep in touch meetings’.

‘Not a group of personnel who are office-bound as they are keen to visit schools conducting face to face meetings resulting in positive, effective communication’.

Key clients

L.E.A.D. Multi Academy Trust

Twyford Church of England Academy Trust

Nova Education Trust

ACS International Schools

Beacon Multi Academy Trust

Compass Learning Partnership

Batley Multi Academy Trust

The Education Alliance

The Delta Education Trust

The Bentley Wood Trust

Harrison Clark Rickerbys

Harrison Clark Rickerbys represents a range of schools in high-value matters pertaining to development projects and construction, as well as non-compliance and regulatory issues. Practice head Kristine Scott is known for her expertise in sensitive matters such as dismissals, pupil exclusions and parental complaints. Other team members include Emilie Darwin, who provides employment expertise, and head of academies Emma Swann, who is recommended for restructuring and conversations.

Practice head(s):

Kristine Scott

Other key lawyers:

Emilie Darwin; Emma Swann


‘The team has a vast knowledge of the sector, experience and pragmatism. There are very experienced partners and very able junior staff.’

Key clients

The Pointer School

The Independent Schools Bursars’ Association

The Independent Schools Council

Association of Governing Bodies for Independent Schools

Boarding Schools Association

Cranleigh School

Cheltenham College

Cheltenham Ladies College

Dean Close Foundation

Work highlights

  • Providing specialist procurement and construction advice to Gloucestershire College for a new £18m further education campus in the Forest of Dean.
  • Advising the University of Gloucestershire on a wide range of issues associated with its £35m multi-phase university campus redevelopment project.
  • Representing the Independent Schools Bursars’ Assocation, the organisation which supports and advises the bursars and senior management staff of 1,000-plus independent schools across the UK and overseas.
  • Represented The Pointer School, a leading mixed independent school for children aged up to 11.

BDB Pitmans

Penny Chapman oversees the education and charities team at BDB Pitmans, which provides 'consistently good advice' to its national clients on all areas of education law, combined with its charity law expertise. The team has handled mergers and restructurings, regulatory work and real estate matters over the past 12 months and has seen a strengthening of its client base, with several independent schools joining the roster. The practice takes a cross-departmental, with real estate group head Jonathan Fewster advising schools on property matters. Senior associates Alice Unwin and Harriet Ainsworth are also key members of the team.

Practice head(s):

Penny Chapman

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Fewster; Jesper Christensen; Alice Unwin; Harriet Ainsworth

Key clients

Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools (AGBIS)

Eltham College

Grange Park School

Plymouth College (formally known as Plymouth College and Dunstan’s Abbey Schools Charity)

The Mount School (York)

Cripplegate Schools Foundation –Lady Eleanor Holles

Queen’s College London

Connaught House School (prep)

Westminster School

Merchant Taylors School

Work highlights

  • Providing ongoing, comprehensive advice on charity governance, commercial, corporate, employment and property matters to Grange Park School over the past year.
  • Acting for Plymouth College, and its two subsidiary charitable trusts, in relation to a loan facility being obtained by the client and the related security that each of the three charities are being asked to provide.
  • Undertaking a detailed constitutional review for longstanding client Eltham School, as well as advising on the composition of the board and the requirements of the Companies Act 2006.
  • Advising the Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools (AGBIS) on a detailed model school governance manual that is now available on the client’s website for its member schools to download for free usage and adapt for their particular schools.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP's education team is led by Lynn Povey and is known for its advice to private schools on matters such as mergers, restructurings, data protection and sensitive staff issues. The practice also draws on the expertise of the firm's private wealth team to advise education clients on establishing charitable trusts. Mike Scott has specialist expertise in the area of educational institutions and charities, while newly made-up partner and deputy head of charities Sarah Rowley has advised on a variety of projects for educational institutions.

Practice head(s):

Lynn Povey

Other key lawyers:

Mike Scott; Sarah Rowley; Penelope Byatt

Key clients

Westonbirt Schools

City & Guilds

Eton College

Michelmores LLP

Michelmores LLP is adept at handling a variety of education matters and is known for its advice to state-funded schools, colleges and local authorities. The team led by Antony Power handles complex and often high-value matters relating to re-brokerage and establishing new institutions. Charlotte Antoniou is particularly experienced in advising on governance structures, while Russell Holland, who splits his time between Bristol and London, is recommended for his employment law expertise.

Practice head(s):

Antony Power; Charlotte Antoniou

Other key lawyers:

Russell Holland; Carol McCormack; James Baker; Tom Briant-Evans; Sally Rice


Michelmores offer a personalised and prompt service and all of their lawyers are extremely knowledgeable about their field of expertise. The speed of action is the best facet of this firm.’

‘Michelmores is a firm which takes time to listen to client needs, prefers face-to-face meeting and is responsive to requests. The advice is clear and well communicated.’

The education team at Michelmores always go above and beyond and have a rapid response time. They instill so much confidence and one feels well supported. They really do know their stuff.’

‘Antony Power, Russell Holland, Charlotte Antoniou and Tom Briant are the standout colleagues.’

‘Michelmores always have the client at the heart of their service.’

‘The administrative efficiency of all the team is fantastic.’

Key clients

Aspirations Academies Trust

Astrum Multi Academy Trust

Bright Tribe

One Day Trust

Wandle Learning Trust

Bellevue Place Education Trust

The Sigma Trust

South Devon College

Exeter Diocese

Link Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised Bourton Meadow Academy Trust on the re-brokerage of two private finance initiative-funded schools into the trust.
  • Advising Astrum Multi-Academy Trust on the opening of a brand new Early Years and Key Stage 1 Special School.
  • Advising One Day Trust on converting into a multi-academy trust to enable it to take on the unique London Screen Academy.
  • Advising Aspirations Academy Trust on a complex school transfer in Poole, Dorset.
  • Advising Discovery Schools Academies Trust on the transfer of a nursery provision previously run by a private provider.

Sharpe Pritchard LLP

Sharpe Pritchard LLP is known for its breadth of work for public sector clients on infrastructure and project-related education matters. Jointly overseen by Annie Moy, who specialises in the public sector construction market, and contracts lawyer Paul O’Sullivan, the group is skilled in advising on construction, capital projects, commercial property and governance matters. Other core members of the team include Catherine Newman, who works extensively for local government, and senior associate Rachel Murray-Smith, who advises on procurement law.

Practice head(s):

Annie Moy; Paul O’Sullivan

Other key lawyers:

Tim Farr; David Wall; Gemma Duncan; Catherine Newman; Rachel Murray-Smith

Key clients

London Borough of Newham

Milton Keynes Council

Education and Skills Funding Agency

London Borough of Southwark

Work highlights

  • Advising a council on several education-related schemes, including the development of new school premises and facilities and academy conversions.
  • Advising the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) on the closure of a multimillion-pound procurement for adult education budget training providers and on the procurement of apprenticeship training providers for employers who do not pay the government’s apprenticeship levy.
  • Advised the London Borough of Southwark on the construction of two new schools in circumstances where the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the freehold proprietor of the land on which the schools are to be built using funding from the ESFA.
  • Advised on the PFI academy conversion of the Cumberland School.

Winckworth Sherwood LLP

Winckworth Sherwood LLP has experience advising the full spectrum of education clients, including schools, colleges, multi-academy trusts and universities. Andrea Squires leads the team and has a specialty in strategic projects. The wider group includes employment lawyer James LynasAnna Shadbolt, who is recommended for corporate structures and commercial transfer agreement matters; and Owen Carew-Jones, who acts for trusts and schools. Theresa Kerr heads up the school support service team.

Practice head(s):

Andrea Squires

Key clients

London Borough of Haringey

Newham Community Schools Trust

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's national education team is overseen by Newcastle-based Kevin Robertson and has vast expertise in conversions, transfers, complex mergers and governance matters. Head of charity law Emma Moody is 'excellent' in handling restructuring matters and undertaking advisory work for public sector clients, and Iain Greenshields has significant experience in procurement projects. The group is noted for advising high-profile national clients on major mergers. Other members of the team include charity law specialist Samantha Pritchard and Esther Masisi, who advises public sector clients.

Practice head(s):

Iain Greenshields; Kevin Robertson; Emma Moody

Other key lawyers:

Samantha Pritchard; Esther Masisi

Key clients

Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

Department for Education (DfE)


St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Academy Trust

St Oswald’s Catholic Academy Trust

Trent Academies Group

Zaytouna Education Trust

North View Academy

Whitworth Park School

Woodham Academy

Tees Valley Education Multi Academy Trust

St Lawrence Education Trust

Carmel Education Trust, Darlington

Waterton Academy Trust, Wakefield

Newcastle City Council

Castle Trust, Medway

Tauheedal Schools and Academies Trust

Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School

Pocklington School

Illuminare Multi Academy Trust

Vision Academy Learning Trust

Liverpool City Council

The Constellation Trust

Northumberland County Council

Doncaster MBC

St Helen’s Council

Nicholas Postgate Academy Trust

St Hilda’s Catholic Academy Trust

Our Lady of Light Catholic Academy Trust

Skills for Life Trust, Kent

FocusEducation (Lincolnshire) Limited

Sewell Education York Limited

Romero Catholic Academy Trust

Trinity Multi Academy Trust

Horizons Specialist Academy Trust

Extol Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Continuing to advise the ESFA and Department for Education on the flagship Free Schools programme, which includes university technical colleges and studio schools.
  • Advising 21 Catholic schools across York, North Yorkshire and East Riding on the incorporation of a new multi-academy trust, targeting the simultaneous conversion of all 21 schools.
  • Advising multiple governing bodies on their conversion to academy status.
  • Advised three Catholic multi-academy trusts on the transfer of their 20 academies to the Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust. The merger brought together 25 academies in total, bringing 9,100 pupils into one of the largest multi-academy trusts in the country, which was a significant milestone for the Middlesbrough Diocese.
  • Advised Liverpool City Council on the commercial and property aspects of the conversion of a number of its maintained schools to academy status.  This included drafting and negotiating the agreements for transferring all assets required to operate the school from the council to the incoming trust, as well as the 125-year lease of the school site from the council to the trust.

Blake Morgan LLP

Blake Morgan LLP has a wide education law offering and is skilled at handling high-value transactional work and litigation for schools and academies. Led by Cardiff-based Matthew Smith, the practice group, which spans across six offices, is known for its academy conversions and special education needs (SEN) expertise. The team includes employment specialist Tim ForerSarah Peacock, who provides advice on contentious and non-contentious employment-related matters; and managing partner Mike Wilson, who acts for schools, colleges and other higher education institutions. Penny Rinta-Suksi is also a key name to note for her considerable commercial experience.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Smith

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Peacock; Tim Forer; Mike Wilson

Key clients

Magdalen College School

King Edward VI School

St Swithun’s School, Winchester

Capital City Academy Trust

University of Chichester Multi-Academy Trust

The Portsmouth Grammar School

St Marylebone Church of England Academy

Portsmouth Catholic Diocesan Trust

Stockley Academy

The Cherwell Academy

Winchester Diocesan Board of Finance

Solent Academies Trust

The Gregg School

Work highlights

  • Advising an academy trust company, having been instructed following a successful proposal in mid-2017.
  • Providing governance, employment and education advice to a charitable organisation which operates independent schools in Hampshire.
  • Acted as legal adviser to professional conduct panels of the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) in relation to disciplinary proceedings against teachers that have been referred to the TRA in furtherance of its statutory functions.
  • Acted as legal adviser to fitness to practise committees, investigation committees and suitability committees of the Education Workforce Council (EWC) in relation to proceedings against registered educational practitioners in Wales referred to the EWC in furtherance of its statutory functions.
  • Provided schools within a diocese with advice on all aspects of employment law.

Doyle Clayton

Doyle Clayton's education team 'combines pragmatism and a commercially focused approach' and is led by the 'excellent' Simon Henthorn. The team handles high-value and often high-profile education matters pertaining to contentious employment issues, dismissal cases, child protection and safeguarding. Senior associate Elizabeth Timmins specialises in both employment and immigration advice for education clients. Anna Blackden is also a key contact.

Practice head(s):

Simon Henthorn

Other key lawyers:

Elizabeth Timmins; Anna Blackden


‘Simon Henthorn is extremely friendly, capable and supportive. He always gives of his time, even at unsociable hours, and responds extremely quickly (often within minutes) to requests for advice. He is entirely unpatronising and very good at seeing things from a different perspective.’

‘Simon gives clear and concise advice; communicates effectively and regularly; and fully understands the complexities of the education sector.’

Key clients

Queenswood School

Eton End School

Stanmore College

Christ The King 6th Form College

Creative Education Trust

Ealing Fields Academy Trust

Kings School Ely

Kensington Wade

Kennington Primary School

Portsmouth Grammar School

Work highlights

  • Providing safeguarding and regulation advice to a large independent school concerning allegations against the interim head.
  • Providing pension advice to an independent school – an issue faced by many independent schools this year.
  • Defending a school against criminal allegations.
  • Providing safeguarding advice to a well-known independent school.
  • Providing post-merger advice to the largest education union in the country.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP's national education practice is led by sector specialist Gary Attle and handles a substantial range of matters. The core team - which also includes head of academies Stuart Pemble, Christian BullJonathan Greenwood and employment lawyer Nick Abbott - has advised on high-value and cross-border issues such as development projects, complex discrimination cases and establishing overseas institutions.

Practice head(s):

Stuart Pemble; Gary Attle


Mills and Reeves is a very good firm in this sector and Gary Attle is the key name to note in the team.’

Key clients

North Eastern Universities Purchasing Consortium

University of Brighton Academies Trust

Academies Enterprise Trust

Birmingham City University Multi Academies Trust

University of Wolverhampton Multi Academy Trust

The Diocese of Ely Multi Academy Trust

Uppingham School

Norwich School

Work highlights

  • Advising a school on a term loan facility for a leading bank. The loan was to support the school in its acquisition of another independent education provider and to refinance existing debt.
  • Advising a significant schools group on the English law aspects of the opening of a new school in the UAE in collaboration with a leading independent school. The advice focuses on the corporate and commercial aspects of the transaction, including putting in place the wider umbrella framework for potential future expansion.
  • Advised a trust on all aspects (including corporate, commercial, employment and regulatory) relating to the transfer (rebrokerage) of one of its schools.
  • Advising a trust on a series of conversions of maintained schools into the academy group, including assisting with funding structuring, governance and employment law issues, and the commercial transfer itself.
  • Advised a trust on all aspects (including corporate, commercial, employment and regulatory) relating to the transfer (rebrokerage) of an academy.

Bevan Brittan LLP

Bevan Brittan LLP is experienced in handling large construction and development projects for its education sector clients. Led by head of commercial and infrastructure Andrew Tobin, the team undertakes advisory work for schools, academies, colleges and universities. Bristol-based David Hutton has experience in academy conversions and development projects.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Tobin

Other key lawyers:

David Hutton

Bird & Bird LLP

Mark Abell leads the international education team at Bird & Bird LLP, which has vast experience of advising British schools and universities on their expansion into foreign markets such as the Middle East. The group provides a comprehensive service to education sector clients, covering corporate, commercial, real estate and employment matters.

Practice head(s):

Mark Abell

Other key lawyers:

Nick Green; James Fowler; Nikesh Mistry

Key clients


Sherborne School

Reigate Grammar School

North London Collegiate

Uppingham School

Sedbergh School

Westminster School

The Perse School

Royal Grammar School, Guildford

St John’s College School, Cambridge

Work highlights

  • Advising Westminster School on a deal which will lead to six schools being established in China.
  • Advising Sedbergh School on its deal to build and operate a school in Guangdong.
  • Advising Haileybury on its agreement to bid for funding from the EU to open and operate a school in Malta.
  • Advising London-based early years education company Maggie & Rose on a deal which will establish a family lifestyle business under the Maggie & Rose brand in China, Macau and Taiwan.
  • Advising Vinehall School on its agreement to set up and operate specialist overseas immersion courses in the UK for Chinese pupils.


Elliot Pound is a key name to note in BLM's education team, along with Richard Wilkins. The team has experience handling issues relating to school admissions and exclusions and has sector strengths in insurance and the public sector. Other lawyers in the team include Martin Jensen; Manchester-based Jim Lister, who advises schools on governance issues; Geneviève Rich; and Michael Pether.

Practice head(s):

Elliot Pound

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP's education team combines cross-departmental expertise in immigration, employment, commercial property and governance to advise clients on a wide spectrum of matters, including safeguarding and child protection as well as discrimination issues. Jointly led by Gemma Woodhouse, Hilary Aldred and Daff Richardson, the team has experience in assisting high-profile clients with historic abuse issues and defending against claims arising from this. Other key team members include immigration specialists Pat Saini and Hazar El-Chamaa.

Practice head(s):

Gemma Woodhouse; Hilary Aldred; Daff Richardson

Other key lawyers:

Katie Glendinning; Pat Saini; Hazar El-Chamma

Key clients

Wellington College

Reed’s School

Crosfields School Trust

Godstowe Preparatory School

Beaconsfield Educational Trust (Davenies School)

Shrewsbury House School

The Licensed Trade Charity

Haberdashers’ Aske’s Elstree Schools Ltd

Wellington College Academy Trust

Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students

Work highlights

  • Representing a multi-site school client in respect of safeguarding issues and closure of boarding.
  • Advising a leading senior boys’ school on changes to staff pay scales.
  • Advising a multi-academy trust in respect of inappropriate comments made by a teacher to students, including liaising with external authorities.
  • Advising on the constitution of a leading member association.
  • Advising an education sector client on potential criminal allegations and safeguarding issues.

Withers LLP

Withers LLP has a vast international education practice, with work concentrated strongly in the Asian and American markets, and advises clients on the full spectrum of matters, including establishing international schools, mergers and complex restructurings. Overseen by Chris Priestley, the practice group also draws on the firm's non-profit and employment expertise. Alana Petraske, who focuses on UK-US education issues, has moved to the New York office to expand the team there. Alison Paines remains a key contact and is recommended for her experience in advising charities and other non-profit bodies.

Practice head(s):

Chris Priestley

Other key lawyers:

Alison Paines; Alana Petraske

Key clients

All Saints’ Church, Binfield