Education: schools in London

Browne Jacobson LLP

Mark Blois leads Browne Jacobson LLP‘s outstanding education practice, which supports over 1300 schools and academies from its five-office national network. The ‘flexible, conscientious and prompt’ team has a notably broad sector remit, advising on academy conversions and related sixth form academisation, merger and re-brokerage projects, governance issues, as well as pastoral issues encompassing admission arrangements, behaviour and exclusion issues and complex parental and pupil complaints. Another strength for the group lies in defending clients in litigation, including employment and SEND matters. The department is highly recommended for safeguarding work, drafting policies and procedures as well as representing clients during investigations involving high-profile issues such as staff arrests, pupil deaths and suicides. Julia Green in Exeter is noted for property-related work, advising on transfers to academy and trust status and income generation from school assets.

Practice head(s):

Mark Blois

Other key lawyers:

Adrian Shardlow; Dai Durbridge; Julia Green; Richard Freeth; Nick Mackenzie

Testimonials

‘Positive. Effective. Efficient. User friendly. Professional – with that personal touch. Excellent communication.’

‘Julia Green is an excellent partner – approachable, with a broad knowledge and understanding of both the technical issues in the sector and the operating landscape for academies.’

‘There is a helpful blend of specialist knowledge across a range of education functions. The team is flexible, conscientious and prompt.’

‘Mark Blois is approachable with a wide range of technical expertise and knowledge.’

‘They give first-class support and assistance and there is a genuine feeling that they put the client first at all times.’

‘Julia Green has been our link person for some years. She is a virtual ‘one-stop shop’ which means we can call on support that covers all of our very varied needs. She has excellent links with local authority partners which is a huge asset.’

Key clients

Abbey Multi Academy Trust

Academy Transformation Trust

Achievement Through Collaboration Trust

Albany Multi Academy Trust

An Daras Multi Academy Trust

Ansford Academy Trust

Apollo Partnership Trust

Archway Learning Trust

Arthur Terry Learning Partnership

Barnsole Primary Trust – prior to merger with Maritime Academy Trust

Believe Academy Trust

Bright Futures Education Trust

Brooke Weston Trust

Central RSA Academies Trust

Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form College

Coast Academies Trust

Community Inclusive Trust

Consilium Academies

Cornwall Education Learning Trust

Cumbria Education Trust

Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust

Department for Education (RPA)

Diocese of Bristol Academy Trust

Diocese of Hallam

Diocese of Leeds

Diocese of Nottingham

Diocese of Salisbury Multi Academy Trust

Diverse Academies Trust

Dixons Academies Trust

Durrington Multi Academy Trust

E-ACT

Ebor Academies Trust

Education Learning Trust

Elliot Foundation Academies Trust

Exmouth Ac

Work highlights

  • Advised a range of education clients in relation to parent challenges following the Government’s change of approach to awarding GCSE and A Level grades in the summer 2020 examinations.
  • Acted on numerous complex academy projects, including re-brokerages, trust to trust transfers and conversion to academy status.
  • Advised the governors of a school on the reconsideration of a permanent exclusion following an Independent Review Panel decision which quashed the original governors’ decision.

Farrer & Co

Headed up by Jonathan Eley, Farrer & Co stands out for its work for UK independent schools and groups of schools. Key areas of work include Covid-related queries, school M&A, racial discrimination and equality matters, immigration work, and employment and HR issues. The firm has notably strong expertise in child protection and safeguarding work, housing a dedicated safeguarding unit. David Smellie has specialist expertise in safeguarding and child protection work for schools, while Katie Fudakowski, who has a wealth of experience in discrimination and SEND litigation, has advised on peer-on-peer abuse and gender-based violence matters. Sam Macdonald regularly handles high-level restructuring and complex governance issues, and associate Alice Yandle supports schools on employment, education and child protection matters.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Eley

Other key lawyers:

Sam Macdonald; David Smellie; Katie Fudakowski; Alice Yandle

Testimonials

‘Professional. Hugely knowledgeable. Very considerate of the customer. Offer a broad range of subject strengths.’

‘David Smellie is an outstanding lawyer. Very good to work with – considerate, experienced, good strategically.’

‘What makes this team unique is their ability to collaborate and connect with a wide variety of experts in the field in order to meet our specific needs as a company including experts with knowledge of best practices globally, internationally and domestically.’

‘Excellent advice, highly responsive.’

‘Alice Yandle and Jonathan Eley have been brilliant on every issue we have engaged them on. Excellent, thorough advice which is both practical and easy to follow.’

‘Katie Fudakowski has provided guidance on employment issues, TOR and disciplinary procedures. Her judgement is excellent, she is quick and responsive and always understands what our needs are and how to shape our direction.’

Key clients

Winchester College

Eton College

Harrow School

Cognita

Charterhouse

Downe House

Alpha Plus Group

Grey Coat Hospital

Westminster School

Independent Schools’ Bursars Association

Tormead School

Latymer Upper School

Work highlights

  • Supported a wide range of schools on the full spectrum of Covid-related legal issues, including school closures; fee reductions and disputes; parental disputes and complaints; school reopenings; remote learning; centre assessment grade (CAG) exam appeals; mass testing in schools; the implementation of the furlough scheme and associate issues; and in some cases redundancy consultation.
  • Advised The Independent Schools’ Bursars Association – a membership organisation representing some 1200 independent schools – in relation to the test case brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) about whether losses resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic are covered by business interruption insurance policies.
  • Advised Downe House School on the closure of its French school and on the acquisition of its replacement school.

Stone King LLP

Stone King LLP supports numerous state schools, including faith schools, and independent schools, drawing on strong charity and business law teams. It provides a full range of services including handling school collaborations, pupil and parents issues, governance work, employment law issues, social finance matters and construction mandates, and has recently expanded its schools offering in information law, immigration issues and procurements. The specialist independent schools team, led by partner Helen Tucker, has a strong record in handling complex school merger and acquisition projects, school groups and partnerships. Other areas of work include admissions and appeals, pupil behaviour issues and exclusions, and safeguarding and Equality Act matters. Team lead Graham Burns is well known for his expertise in PFI schemes, particularly involving complex challenges with local authorities. Roger Inman heads the overall department, while Tom Morrison manages the FE sub-group.

Practice head(s):

Graham Burns; Roger Inman; Helen Tucker; Tom Morrison

Testimonials

‘Measured advice. Speedy response. Strong knowledge of law as it applies.’

‘All team members are specialists in their field, able to give confident and knowledgeable responses to our queries. They have clear responses, in layman’s terms when necessary, giving us clear guidance to reduce our risk profile.’

Key clients

United Learning Trust

Angelina Learning Trust

Ark Schools

Ormiston Academies Trust

Astrea

Peterborough Diocesan Education Trust

Red Kite Learning Trust

United Church Schools Trust

Inspiration Trust

Girls’ Day School Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised on academy projects through a close collaboration with the Confederation of School Trusts.
  • Advised a prestigious religious body in relation to the guidance and advice they could distribute to their schools in relation to school admissions and the process around this which had been severely restricted by the pandemic.
  • Advised Epworth Education Trust on the merger of two Academy Trusts to create a new combined Trust for Methodist academies across the country.

VWV

The specialist schools practice at VWV stands out for its expertise in charity work and its extensive experience in school transactions. Barney Northover heads up the independent schools segments of the practice, advising on charity law, governance issues, M&A and strategic reviews. Work for independent schools include issues raised by the pandemic and matters relating to leaving or modifying the Teachers' Pension Scheme. Chloe Brunton leads the academies and maintained schools team; as a specialist charity governance lawyer, she has considerable experience in DfE policies, the academy conversion and transfer programme, and multi-academy trusts. Simon Bevan focuses on education employment work, advising on discrimination law and industrial relations; he has a niche in safer recruitment and reporting obligations.

Practice head(s):

Barney Northover; Chloe Brunton

Other key lawyers:

Simon Bevan; Yvonne Spencer; Tabitha Cave

Testimonials

‘Clear advice, good advice, broad knowledge, strong partnership- always someone with the right speciality.’

‘VWV offer absolutely excellent client service along with rapid and expert client advice. They are painstaking, thorough and highly supportive of clients through legal proceedings.’

‘The breadth of coverage across differing specialist areas and their clear in-depth experience, combined with a very responsive and helpful style.’

‘VWV’s ability to bring in expert lawyers for both education and employment work is exceptional. During lockdown particularly, the client care and immediate responses have been truly superb.’

‘Top end practice for schools – good judgment; effective well timed advice.’

‘They know the sector thoroughly. They also have excellent strategic judgment.’

‘They are extremely pragmatic in advising on sensitive matters with the potential for reputational impact.’

Key clients

Sea Shell Trust

Rugby School

Sikh Academies Trust

Cathedral Schools Trust (CST)

The Harpur Trust

Taunton School

Cabot Learning Federation

Clifton College

Cheltenham Ladies’ College

Dean Close School

Work highlights

  • Acted for the Charterhouse in relation to the acquisition of a prep school, Edgeborough School by way of a merger of charities.
  • Advised a number of school, charity and ecclesiastical clients in relation to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
  • Advised Khalsa Primary School on the establishment of a new Sikh-based academies group in the Slough area.

Bates Wells

Bates Wells has significant expertise in advising on the effects of school reform, and has particular experience in academy conversions, the development of multi-academy trusts and the increasing focus and accountability required of academy sponsors. Of note for independent schools is the practice's capabilities in immigration and domestic and international charity law. The team also has a growing area of focus in advising on independent school sales and purchases, and also assists with broader work by the real estate and corporate and commercial practices. Emma Dowden-Teale heads up the regulatory and public law side of the department, and specialises in the regulation of qualifications, SEND issues and safeguarding work. Commercial lead Jean Tsang advises on school M&A and MAT issues.

Practice head(s):

Jean Tsang; Emma Dowden-Teale

Other key lawyers:

Mark Traynor

Testimonials

‘The Bates Wells team as a whole have a superb knowledge of law and practice in the charities sector. Individuals’ areas of expertise are grounded in up-to-date wider understanding of legal regulatory and commercial issues that charities face.’

‘They are not afraid to give clear, decisive practical advice.’

‘They work very closely as a team, well aware of whose special expertise is required when trying to resolve complex and changing circumstances.’

‘We were impressed with Jean Tsang. Jean has great attention to detail and is very precise in her answers, which come quickly and well thought out.’

‘Their skill in understanding both the detail and the bigger picture allows them to provide an exceptionally efficient, holistic and effective service.’

Key clients

Aston Foundation

Walsingham College Trust Association and Walsingham College (Affiliated Schools) Limited

Hatching Dragons

City of London Academies Trust (COLAT)

Dolphin School

Central Foundation Schools of London

Raine’s School Foundation

Shaftesbury Young People

Mulberry Schools Trust

Olive Academies

Quaggy Development Trust

Brightside Educational Trust

Charlotte Sharman Primary School

Work highlights

  • Advised St. Bede’s Foundation on the acquisition of St. Bede’s College, Manchester, a charitable Catholic independent school, founded in 1876 for pupils aged 3-18.
  • Supported AQA in relation to the fast-moving developments in respect of the GCSE and A-level exam series in summer 2020 and 2021.
  • Provided Central Foundation Schools of London with advice relating to designated land held under trust dating back to the 19th Century.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

The schools team at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP works for a broad range of clients across the sector, advising academies, free schools, university technical colleges, studio schools, multi-academy trusts and local authorities as well as maintained and independent schools. School project work is a particular strength, and the team has extensive experience working with sixth form colleges looking to convert into academies, as well as handling estates work, from day-to-day operation and asset management issues through to major developments and funding mandates. National head of education Diane Gilhooley is a highly regarded education and employment specialist. Ben Wood concentrates on advising education establishments on governance and employment matters, and is the practice's national lead for academy work.

Practice head(s):

Diane Gilhooley; Ben Wood

Testimonials

‘Eversheds Sutherland offer a service that is specifically tailored to our sector and they have a wealth of knowledge.’

‘Very strong sector knowledge coupled with strong legal expertise in key areas of data protection, employment and media.’

‘Ben Wood – strong rapport and keen understanding of our areas and concern and the sector’s emerging legal issues.’

‘Without exception all partners that we have worked with across a wide range of specialisms have been both knowledgeable and helpful.’

‘The availability and advice and support from staff is excellent.’

‘Friendly, approachable, responsive service.’

Key clients

Compass Learning Partnership

Beacon Multi Academy Trust

ACS International Schools Limited

The Bentley Wood Trust

Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation Trust

Trinitas Academy Trust

Twyford CofE Academy Trust

Chelsea Academy

Cambridge Meridian Academy Trust

The Prospect Trust

Nova Education Trust

L.E.A.D. Multi Academy Trust

The Delta Education Trust

The Great Schools Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised Dulwich College on the expansion of its international operations in Asia through its joint venture company with Asian investors.
  • Worked with a number of independent schools on exiting from the Teachers’ Pensions Scheme and the introduction of a new defined contribution scheme.
  • Advised statutory panels of the Teaching Regulation Agency (lay and teacher members) on questions of law and procedure.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys

Harrison Clark Rickerbys is a key choice for independent schools, handling demanding mandates across transactions, employment issues and regulatory work; it counts the ISBA and the ISC as clients. Employment is a core strength of the practice, which regularly supports schools with performance management issues, restructurings, grievances and employment tribunal cases. In addition, the group has extensive experience in advising Church of England diocesan boards and diocesan MATs. ‘Exceptionally knowledgeable‘ practice head Kristine Scott advises on issues relating to staff, pupils and parents; she has experience in sensitive dismissals, pupil exclusions and parental complaints, as well as allegations against staff and peer-on-peer abuse.

Practice head(s):

Kristine Scott

Other key lawyers:

Emma Swann; Rachel Parkin

Testimonials

‘The way the education team assisted in our management of teachers’ pensions consultation was outstanding. Their advice was clear and timely and they responded exceptionally quickly to requests for information and approval from our school.’

‘Kristine Scott was exceptionally knowledgeable, straight-forward, understanding and responsive.’

‘The service provided by the HCR education team is consistently excellent. They are always timely in their responses and are never condescending in their replies – no matter how daft the question. They always provide a balanced view alerting us to risk and helping us chart the way forward with tricky issues.’

‘They take the time to build relationships with their clients and get to know their schools intimately. As a result they are trusted partners, providing timely and pragmatic advice that helps Governors and Senior Leadership Teams take informed decisions, often under considerable pressure where reputational damage can have severe consequences. We also value the breadth of the advice available from HCR, knowing that we can draw on experts from a wide variety of different practices, from company law and mergers to detailed planning advice.’

Key clients

Cheltenham College

ISBA

Redcliffe School

Headington School

St Dunstan’s College

Independent Schools’ Council

Moore Barlow

Moore Barlow is highly recommended for independent schools, and has extensive charity law expertise, enabling it to advise on governance issues, fundraising work, conflicts and permanent endowments and foundations. Other key areas of work include complex special educational needs cases, pastoral matters, safeguarding work and child personal data issues. Following the 2020 merger of Barlow Robbins and Moore Blatch, the practice operates out of six offices across London and the southeast. Team head Joanna Lada-Walicki advises on employment and pastoral issues, including allegations of abuse against staff and peer-on-peer abuse matters. Senior associate Adam McRae-Taylor regularly advises schools on proposed exits from the Teachers' Pension Scheme.

Practice head(s):

Joanna Lada-Walicki

Other key lawyers:

Gordon Reid; Ben Collingwood; Adam McRae-Taylor

Testimonials

‘Adam McRae-Taylor is calm, informative, efficient and a pleasure to deal with.’

‘The team are excellent in their responsiveness, they are knowledgeable, approachable, engaging and always willing to help. They have a very clear can-do attitude.’

‘Joanna Lada-Walicki has excellent knowledge and provides clear, concise advice.’

‘Moore Barlow provide a personalised and extremely professional service. They quickly got to know us as individuals and our business. Outstanding communication and availability of our representatives.’

‘The team are incredibly committed and knowledgeable.’

‘I have been so impressed with the whole team’s ability and kindness. The knowledge of the professionals has been superb and the advice given was superb. Quick and efficient throughout!’

‘Ben Collingwood is hugely knowledgeable and hugely skilled in his area.’

Key clients

St Albans High School for Girls

Seaford College

Bede’s School

Eastbourne College

Ditcham Park

Royal Grammar School Guildford & Lanesborough

Charterhouse

Edgeborough School

West Buckland School

Our Lady of Sion

St Neot’s Preparatory School

Elstree School

King’s House School, Richmond

Greenfield School

Effingham Schools Trust

Orchard Hill College Academy Trust

Claremont Fan Court School

Walhampton School

Hurspierpoint College

Brambletye School

Prior’s Field

Work highlights

  • Acted for numerous schools in disputes where parents have relied on force majeure clauses and arguments over frustration of contract in relation to the schools’ provision of remote education during pandemic lockdown.
  • Advised a leading boys’ prep school in Surrey on its successful negotiation with parents of the withdrawal of a pupil with autistic spectrum condition which was presenting as violent behaviour towards peers and staff.
  • Supported numerous schools in the aftermath of the GCSE and A level results in the summer of 2020, based on teacher-assessed grades during the Covid crisis, including dealing with challenges to grades.

BDB Pitmans

BDB Pitmans stands out for its ability to advise on complex charity concerns and compliance issues, making it a go-to firm for independent schools. The team provides operational advice on employment, real estate, planning and development matters, public affairs work and litigation, including debt management issues for schools. Other key strengths comprise school reorganisations, including guiding schools through closures, and M&A transactions. Practice head Penny Chapman has an excellent reputation in charity law; she advises independent schools and other charitable education institutions on governance, constitutional and regulatory matters.

Practice head(s):

Penny Chapman

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Fewster; Nicholas Le Riche

Key clients

Bolton School

Moulsford Preparatory School

Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools (AGBIS)

Finton House Educational Trust

The Independent Schools Bursars Association

Cripplegate Schools Foundation – Lady Eleanor Holles

Westminster School

Work highlights

  • Drafted and advised AGBIS on a detailed Governance Manual (comprising 22 policies) that has been made available as a model for all its of its member schools.
  • Advised Finton House Educational Trust on employment, pension law and governance considerations in relation to the Teachers Pensions Scheme, as well as supporting the school with a wide range of employment matters as they arise, including advising on furlough leave, issues arising from Covid-19 and managing staff.
  • Advised Westminster School on the establishment of the Ben Jonson Foundation as a stand-alone CIO to attract bursary funding to widen access to the school.

Doyle Clayton

The 'professional, experienced and dedicated' Simon Henthorn leads the education practice at Doyle Clayton. Clients include independent and maintained schools, colleges, multi-academy trusts and teaching unions. Key areas of expertise include parent complaints, safeguarding concerns and exclusions, as well as employment litigation, a specialism which has been boosted by the arrival of Peter Daly from Slater and Gordon.

Practice head(s):

Simon Henthorn

Other key lawyers:

Peter Daly; Liz Timmins

Testimonials

‘Simon Henthorn is professional, experienced and dedicated. Simon is a pleasure to work with and enables us to see through problems very clearly, at our level. Approachable, always there when you need him and providing confidence and clarity – first class.’

‘Doyle Clayton works to a consistently high standard and provides detailed and robust advice to us as employer; they deliver excellent training and provide in depth and detailed research.’

‘Our main contact is very knowledgeable, able to handle all of our requests and provides excellent value to our team. We believe they compare very favourably, particularly as they specialise in employment law. We have been very pleased with our relationship with Doyle Clayton and regard them as an expert extension of our team.’

Key clients

Portsmouth Grammar School

Work highlights

  • Advised a large independent day school in relation to securing an exit from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.
  • Advised a large single academy trust in relation to the removal of an underperforming headteacher, enabling the school to replace its leadership.
  • Advised an independent school in relation to a highly contentious dispute between the bursar and the head, dealing with allegations of bullying and age discrimination.

Lee Bolton Monier-Williams

Lee Bolton Monier-Williams stands out for its expertise in Church of England school matters, with a unique 'blend of expertise in charity, education and ecclesiastical law'. The team also advises a large number of other faith education providers, with in-house expertise in Islamic law, as well as non-faith schools. Practice head and senior partner Howard Dellar has provided the Church of England Education Office with extensive advice on the implications of academisation for church schools. Ella Westby specialises in constitutional, land, funding and trusts work within the education sector, particularly in relation to academies.

Practice head(s):

Howard Dellar

Other key lawyers:

Ella Westby

Testimonials

‘The service we receive from Ella Westby is exceptional. She always listens to our requirements and seeks an effective solution. She is incredibly efficient and communicates extremely well. We have used her services for ten school conversions now because the service she provides is so good.’

‘A very knowledgeable company. Able to answer a range of educational questions and queries. Advice is thorough and the service is prompt.’

‘Howard Dellar is both pragmatic and empathetic. He understands where the client comes from and speaks in a way that is accessible and enlightening. Despite his obvious capability, Howard is able to simplify matters and identify the key information that the client needs to know and respond to. His positive manner is encouraging and you always sense a solution is possible.’

‘Expert knowledge in the niche field that we were dealing with.’

‘The practice has outstanding knowledge and experience in the educational and ecclesiastical fields and can be relied upon to provide an excellent service at all times.’

‘The practice is unique in terms of its understanding across the sectors and the breadth of knowledge and expertise delivered. The combination of people to provide clarity on the whole sector of education as it changes rapidly is without comparison.’

‘Excellent team with a wide-ranging but in-depth knowledge and experience over the whole team. Huge knowledge of related educational and charitable legal issues.’

Key clients

QUEST (A Church of England Schools Trust)

Lincoln Diocesan Board of Education

Lincoln Anglican Academies Trust

Liverpool Diocesan Board of Education

Liverpool Diocesan Schools Trust

Oxford Diocesan Board of Education

Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust

All Saints Schools Trust

Yarmouth Church of England Primary School

Children’s Endeavour Trust

Lichfield Diocesan Board of Education

Hereford Diocesan Board of Education

Salisbury Diocesan Board of Education

Chichester Diocesan Board of Education

Canterbury Diocesan Board of Education

Blackfen School

Work highlights

  • Acted for QUEST in relation to the successful re-brokerage of Bolton UTC into QUEST.
  • Acted for Durand Education Trust to bring a claim for Judicial Review, challenging a decision not to pay compensation, claiming breaches of the Human Rights Act 1998, as it had been deprived of its property, and the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Sharpe Pritchard LLP

Sharpe Pritchard LLP stands out for its focus on education infrastructure projects; the team has considerable experience undertaking work for local and central government clients and schools. It houses a dedicated unit handling school construction matters, whole-school infrastructure projects and national procurements. Annie Moy advises on the establishment and construction of new schools and associated community facilities; she jointly heads up the sector group with Tim Farr, who specialises in procurements and strategic public private partnerships. Other key areas of work include ICT outsourcings and advice on apprenticeship training and teacher recruitments.

Practice head(s):

Annie Moy; Tim Farr

Key clients

Imperial College London

King’s College London

Department for Education

Education and Skills Funding Agency

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

The full-service education team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP fields a team of school sector specialists, with a roster of clients including the DfE, school governing bodies, the ESFA and local authorities, as well as academy trusts, independent schools, diocesan trustees and boards of education. The practice has seen significant growth in academy conversion work, and regularly advises on transfers and complex re-brokerages. Kevin Robertson has particular expertise in local authority matters and commercial agreements; while Emma Moody, who leads the charities team, concentrates on constitutional and governance work for independent and free schools.

Practice head(s):

Kevin Robertson; Emma Moody

Testimonials

‘The team lead by Kevin Robertson are knowledgeable and skilful. Readily accessible and supportive. They have a clarity of purpose which instils confidence.’

‘As well as being highly efficient and skilled they also have excellent interpersonal skills.’

‘Their accessibility and rapid response makes them stand out as our preferred firm.’

‘Kevin Robertson is an outstanding individual.’

‘Exceptionally responsive and knowledgeable in all conversion and MAT issues.’

‘Their knowledge, communication and general attitude has been first class.’

Key clients

Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

Department for Education (DfE)

LocatEd

St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Academy Trust

Eden Learning Trust

St Lawrence Education Trust

Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust

Waterton Academy Trust, Wakefield

Newcastle City Council

Castle Trust, Medway

Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School

Pocklington School

Vision Academy Learning Trust

Liverpool City Council

The Constellation Trust

Northumberland County Council

Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust

Skills for Life Trust, Kent

Sewell Education York Limited

Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising the ESFA and DfE on the flagship Free Schools programme which includes UTCs and Studio Schools.
  • Advising multiple governing bodies and academy trusts from the South of England to the North East on their conversion to Academy status.
  • Advised Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust on its significant trust expansion in 2020 as well as the restructure of the Catholic Trust.

Bevan Brittan LLP

Andrew Tobin heads up the schools practice at Bevan Brittan LLP, which is best known for advising local authorities and government entities; it also advises individual schools. Key areas of work include assisting local authorities with capitally funded projects for schools and academies.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Tobin

Key clients

Department for Education

London Borough of Barnet

Welsh Assembly Government

London Borough of Lewisham

Barnsley Local Education Partnership

London Borough of Hackney

City of London Corporation

Bird & Bird LLP

Led by Mark Abell, Bird & Bird LLP's education and schools team specialises in the expansion of British schools into overseas markets, with a particularly strong record in the Far East and Middle East. The practice also advises a number of Chinese companies on acquiring UK schools.

Practice head(s):

Mark Abell

Testimonials

‘Very responsive and well informed subject matter experts.’

‘The team, led by Mark Abell, are the pre-eminent leaders in the development of international school partnerships. The assistance they have provided our organisation has been invaluable.’

‘Complete professionalism throughout the team at all times. Extensive experience and knowledge on all sides of the project spectrum. Very efficient and a good commercial outlook.’

‘Mark Abell has been excellent in our dealings with him. He is efficient, empathetic and helpful. He has answered our questions patiently and very clearly. We have been impressed with his reassuring and pragmatic approach.’

Key clients

Benenden School

Duke’s Education

Gordonstoun School

Yehudi Menuhin School

Kindred Education

Work highlights

  • Acted for the Benenden School on a deal to partner with the education arm of Hong Kong-based conglomerate Chow Tai Fook to develop and operate a number of Benenden-branded schools in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan under a franchising model.
  • Advised the Sri Lankan government on the establishment of schools in Port City Colombo (a new city funded by both the governments of Sri Lanka and China to reinforce the status of Sri Lanka as a hub for South Asia).
  • Advised the Yehudi Menuhin School on the establishment of a music academy in Qingdao, China.

Blake Morgan LLP

Blake Morgan LLP handles a wide range of issues, encompassing transactional matters, litigation, and specialist education tribunal work, acting for maintained, academy, free and independent schools. Areas of expertise include academy conversions, governance issues, M&A and funding arrangements. Sector group head Matthew Smith is a key name for employment work, defending claims of unfair dismissal and discrimination, and whistleblowing proceedings; he also advises on TUPE transfers.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Smith

Other key lawyers:

Tim Forer

Testimonials

‘Specialists in the field of education. Hugely accessible, top quality advice and guidance.’

‘Very good client engagement. Responsive. Open to discussion.’

‘Responsive personal service from partners and their teams who understand our needs. Desire to provide pragmatic solutions.’

‘We feel they always have us covered.’

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

The Gallery Trust

Hamwic Education Trust

Villiers High School

Portsmouth Grammar School

Hereford Sixth Form College/Heart of Mercia

Work highlights

  • Providing a full legal service to the Gallery Trust, an academy trust company which is a Multi Academy Trust and which is dedicated to improving outcomes for pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in Oxfordshire.
  • Acted for the Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust in all areas of law including employment, charity, real estate and litigation and across the Diocesan Curia, parishes, and schools.
  • Acted as legal advisers to the professional conduct panels of the TRA (and prior to that, the General Teaching Council for England) in relation to disciplinary proceedings against teachers.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP advises schools on corporate and commercial work, including conversions and re-brokerages, property acquisitions and the establishment of overseas campuses. M&A and fundraising specialist Jonathan Blackwood is the key contact.

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Blackwood

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP's schools team handles a range of immigration, employment, property, governance and debt recovery work; the practice has seen marked growth in education-specific work, particularly safeguarding queries. Practice head Gemma Woodhouse acts for independent schools, advising on employment matters and discrimination issues as well as safeguarding work and parental complaints.

Practice head(s):

Gemma Woodhouse

Testimonials

‘All colleagues I have dealt with have been first rate. Student Visa work – which is completely accurate – is a fairly rare commodity and Penningtons staff in this respect are outstanding.’

‘Gemma Woodhouse – very pragmatic. Keeps it straightforward but always provides options for consideration. Availability is always good – very much there when needed.’

‘Specialists in the field of education. Hugely accessible, top quality advice and guidance.’

‘Gemma Woodhouse – exceptional practitioner. Her experience and expertise in the field make her invaluable. She is contactable at any time and exceptionally quick in her responses.’

‘Responsive personal service from Partners and their teams who understand our needs. Desire to provide pragmatic solutions.’

‘Gemma Woodhouse – consistently responds quickly, provides straightforward, innovative, commercial advice. Reliable, steadfast and very approachable.’

Key clients

St David’s School

Bishops Challoner School

Wellington College

Hemdean House School

Haberdashers’ Aske’s Elstree Schools Limited

Crosfields School

Cognita Schools

Reed’s School

Caversham Preparatory School

The Oratory Schools Association

Shrewsbury House School Trust

The Licensed Trade Charity

Brampton College

Arnold Lodge School

King’s House School

Association for the Education and Guardianship of International students

Derby Grammar School

Beaconsfield Educational Trust (Davenies)

Prior’s Field School

Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship

Notre Dame Prep School

Cambridge Tutors College

Work highlights

  • Assisting a leading independent school in relation to a breakdown in relationship within its executive leadership team and the subsequent fall out including advising on multiple Subject Access Requests.
  • Acting for the sellers in the sale of Riverston Group Limited to the Chatsworth Schools group.
  • Advising a leading independent school on the proposed withdrawal from the TPS, including collective consultation requirements and potential employee grievances.

Winckworth Sherwood LLP

Andrea Squires heads up the education practice at Winckworth Sherwood LLP, which advises academies and MATs as well as independent schools, handling parents complaints, employment work and governance issues. The team has a specialised offering for Catholic schools and Dioceses.

Practice head(s):

Andrea Squires

Withers LLP

Withers LLP specialises in advising academies, handling conversions, restructurings, governance work and operational issues as well as employment, safeguarding and reputational mandates. EdTech and UK-US education work, led by Alana Petraske from the New York office, are key specialisms. Chris Priestley heads up the charities and philanthropy team, which houses the education practice. Philip Reed joined from Farrer & Co.

Practice head(s):

Chris Priestley; Philip Reed; Alana Petraske

Testimonials

‘Great ethos. Very can-do attitude, will work with you to find the best solution.’

‘Thorough, personable.’

Key clients

Fig Leaf Productions Limited (t/a Maths – No Problem!)

BridgeU Limited

BridgeU

All Saints Church, Binfield

American School in London Foundation