Next Generation Partners

Education: schools in London

Browne Jacobson LLP

Browne Jacobson LLP handles a wide range of educational law matters, working with over 1,300 schools and academies across the UK. Mark Blois has more than 25 years of experience in education law; he leads the practice from the firm's Nottingham base. Nick MacKenzie and Julia Green work together on an array of projects, including M&A and reorganisations. Charlotte Antoniou heads up the London-based education practice; she and senior associate Tom Briant-Evans both joined from Michelmores LLP during 2021.

Practice head(s):

Mark Blois

Other key lawyers:

Nick MacKenzie; Julia Green; Charlotte Antoniou; Tom Briant-Evans


‘Superb in all respects’

‘Incredibly professional, approachable and knowledgeable workforce. The key difference in working with Browne Jacobson is that they really understand the Education sector and are able to answer questions, provide advice and support that is relevant, relatable and really straight-forward to understand and action.’

‘The Education Practice at Browne Jacobson LLP is deeply impressive and hugely knowledgeable. Browne Jacobson is also committed to diversity. Its won the D&I Initiative of the Year award at the British Legal Awards in 2021. This is the fourth national award that the firm has won for its innovative talent diversity and inclusion programme.’

‘The leaders of the education practice at Browne Jacobson, notably Mark Blois and Nick MacKenzie, are completely committed to the education sector and their moral purpose guides their legal advice and practice.’

‘Wide range of sector knowledge provided by access to a range of partners and associates. Excellent range of products to meet the needs of education sector means access to affordable legal advice and guidance.’

‘The customer liaison is excellent, the partners feel like an extension of the team, they make an effort to ensure that they remain up to date on both our Trusts issues and wider sector issues. Training and seminars are always relevant.’

‘Colleagues are highly accessible to our team, very personable and feel like an extension to our own team. They are knowledgable and efficient, providing great reassurance to our individual schools as well as our central Trust team. There is good transparency and openness of communication in relation to charging and the quality of service we can expect to receive.’

‘We have valued the in-depth knowledge they have not only of our sector, but of our own organisation. They have taken time to get to know people and members of the team are able to work interchangeably on case work because of the ways in which they share information. Good humour, professionalism and efficiency are all hallmarks of the way Browne Jacobson work with us.’

Key clients

Apollo Partnership Trust

Accord Multi-Academy Trust

Achievement Through Collaboration Trust

An Daras Multi Academy Trust

Ansford Academy Trust

Archway Learning Trust

Arthur Terry Learning Partnership

Aspire Education Trust

Bath and North East Somerset Council

Bath and North East Somerset Council

Beckfoot Trust

Believe Academy Trust

Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College

Bournemouth Poole and Christchurch Council

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council

Brigshaw Learning Partnership

Brooke Weston Trust

Brunel University

Castleford Academy Trust

Central RSA Academies Trust

Champion Education Trust

Cheshire Academies Trust

Coast Academies Trust

Colyton Grammar School

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


Ebor Academies Trust

Education Learning Trust

Elliot Foundation Academies Trust

Exmouth Academy Trust

Falcon Education Academies Trust

Falmouth Multi Academy Trust

Finham Park Multi Academy Trust

Flying High Trust

Forward as one C of E Multi-Academy trust

GLF Schools

GLF Schools

Greater Manchester Learning Trust

Greengate Academy Trust

Greenwood Academies Trust

Hayes School

Hearts Academy Trust

Heathercombe Brake Trust

Heathfield School

Hope Learning Trust York

Horrington Primary School

Humber Education Trust

Iron Mill College

Kernow Learning

Keswick School Multi-Academy Trust

King’s College London

Kings Langley School

Leading Edge Academies Partnership

Learner Engagement and Achievement Partnership MAT

Learning Accord Multi-Academy Trust

Legacy Learning Trust

Leodis Multi-Academy Trust

Lighthouse Schools Partnership

Linwood School

Lion Academy Trust

Lion Academy Trust

Lion Education Trust

Lionheart Academies Trust

Loxford School Trust

North Somerset Council

North West Academies Trust

Northampton Primary Academy Trust

Nova Education Trust

Oak Learning Partnership

Oak Trees Multi-Academy Trust

Optimus Education

Osprey Learning Trust

Our Lady of Lourdes Academy Trust

Outwood Grange Academies Trust

Pembrokeshire College

Preston Primary Academy Trust

Quantock Multi Academy Trust

Raedwald Trust

Ringwood School

Rodillian Multi Academy Trust

Sea View Trust

Severn Foundation

Shaw Education Trust

South Devon College

South Gloucestershire Council

Spencer Academy Trust

SS Simon and Jude C of E Multi Academy Trust

Steyning Grammar School

Swindon Borough Council

Teaching Regulation Agency

The Castle Partnership

The Enquire Learning Trust

The First Federation

The Inspire Multi Academy Trust

The Levels Academy Trust

The Mead Educational Trust

The Sentient Trust

The True Learning Partnership

The Youth Engagement Schools Trust

Thomas Deacon Education Trust

Timberley Academy Trust

Transform Trust

Trewirgie Junior School

Trinity Multi Academy Trust

Twynham Learning

Uffculme Academy Trust

University of Hertfordshire

University of Winchester Academy Trust

Ventrus Limited

Warrington Primary Academies Trust

Warrington Primary Academy Trust

Warwick Independent Schools Foundation

Wessex Learning Trust

West Lakes Multi-Academy Trust

Westcountry Schools Trust

Westfield School

Wimborne Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised Oak Learning Partnership, providing representation to Hazel Wood High School in a high-profile and complex inquest opened to investigate the death of a Hazel Wood High School pupil, Shukri Abdi, who tragically drowned in the River Irwell.
  • Advised Yew Tree Primary School on a successful judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision not to revoke its directive Academy Order.
  • Advised the Consortium of Outwood Grange Academies Trust, Oasis Community Learning, Harris Federation and Star Academies on all aspects of their bid to create a new Institute of Teaching to provide teachers and school leaders with prestigious training and development throughout their career. This bid was under the DfE’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy with allocated funding of over £120m anticipated over the lifetime of the project.

Farrer & Co

Farrer & Co handles a wide range of educational matters, including issues ranging from harassment to immigration and mergers and acquisitions. In addition to this, the practice advises on the financial and safeguarding sides of schooling across the UK. Head of education Jonathan Eley has been advising schools on withdrawal from the Teachers' Pension Scheme and union issues. David Smellie heads the firm's safeguarding unit, being involved in high-stakes employment band child protection work, including handling serious allegations of child abuse. Sam Macdonald specialises in charity law, advising on regulatory matters and fundraising with regards to schools as charitable trusts. Katie Fudakowski previously spent a decade as a barrister, meaning she brings a decade of experience and insight from a barrister's perspective. Associate Alice Yandle assists with complex employment, parental and pupil issues.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Eley

Other key lawyers:

David Smellie; Sam Macdonald; Katie Fudakowski; Alice Yandle


‘Farrers have a strong team in the educational space. We often use them to help with dispute resolution with parents in our schools and for safeguarding advice.’

‘The quality of advice has always been excellent – pragmatic, supportive and the team shows a real understanding of the education sector. The advice takes into account the sector and the nuances of working in education. The firm is also proactive in providing advice at a general level as situations change which is very reassuring.’

‘A multi-disciplined and talented team is led by a number of partners. The lead partner varies, this is dictated by the area of law that is being advised on.’

‘David Smellie – A figure of national importance as an expert, advisor and thought leader in safeguarding.’

‘The education team is well resourced and managed. Team members have excellent in-depth experience in a wide variety of matters which are relevant to clients in the education sector ranging from employment to complaints to external reviews. They take a collaborative approach, sharing sector knowledge and often working with the charities team to do the same.’

‘Alice Yandle is outstanding, one of the best lawyers I have ever worked with. She is super bright, strategic in her approach and always thinks a few steps ahead and with the ultimate preferred outcome in mind. Add to that her client care skills, diligence, responsiveness and phenomenal grasp of the law and issues in any situation, and you have the real deal: a solicitor who you can rely on and who will look out for their client. It is rare to find an advisor with Alice’s emotional intelligence.’

‘Full service team with great experience in the education sector. Great to have in your camp for regulatory work. Accessible and responsive.’

‘Alice Yandle is our main contact. She is truly exceptional in every way – cares deeply about her work, appears very conscientious and presents her advice to us clearly and with great skill. The advice is always practical and easy to follow.’

Key clients

Alleyn’s School

Alpha Plus Group

Benenden School

Bryanston School



Danes Hill School

Downe House

Dulwich Prep School

Eton College

Grey Coat Hospital

Hampton School

Harrow School

Highgate School

Independent Schools’ Bursars Association

King’s College school Wimbledon

Latymer Upper School

Magdalen College School

Manchester Grammar School

Marlborough College

Methodist Independent Schools Trust

Nottingham High School

Shrewsbury School

St Catherine’s School Bramley

St George’s College Weybridge

St Mary’s School Ascot

St Paul’s Girls School

St Paul’s School

The Bury Grammar Schools

The Mill Hill School Foundation

The Perse School

Tonbridge School

Uppingham School

Wellington College

Westminster School

Winchester College

Work highlights

  • Advised leading independent school, Magdalen College School, on a major new overseas collaboration for the opening of a network of international schools across China and Hong Kong.
  • Assisted an independent review for Winchester College into the activities of John Smyth KC (now deceased) who had groomed and abused a number of boys and young men from top UK independent schools and universities under the guise of evangelical Christianity, including at Winchester College.
  • Advised on a low-level concerns policy: A guide for organisations which work with children that the Department for Education included within Part Four of its revised statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE). This marks a significant step forward for the better protection of children – not just in schools and colleges, but also in any organisation working with children.

Stone King LLP

Stone King LLP  operates across the board on education matters, representing more than 2,000 state schools and 300 multi-academy trusts, with work including advising PFI schools in converting to academies. The team is led by four partners: Graham Burns, who works primarily with academies and high-profile mergers; Tom Morrison, who focuses on college-sponsored MAT structuring with Roger Inman; and Helen Tucker. Laura Berman is prominent in advising on discrimination claims against schools, particularly in reference to transgender issues.

Practice head(s):

Roger Inman; Graham Burns; Helen Tucker; Tom Morrison

Other key lawyers:

Laura Berman


‘The team are swift to respond and the breadth of experience and how they collaborate with the other teams at Stone King means that advice is always available for the non-standard queries. They have really got to know us well meaning that their advice comes with good understanding of our ways of working.’

‘Laura Berman is responsive, solution focused and takes time to talk through options – it’s a pleasure to work with her.’

‘Strong knowledge of the education sector, including; academy conversion process, documents and contacts; PFI arrangements for schools; legislation affecting the operation and responsibilities of schools; land arrangements, management of leases and licences and process for securing ESFA consent when needed.’

‘The legal team have worked together well to meet our needs in a timely way. There is good use of Teams meetings so as to have conversations with multiple people at once which is helpful. Our conference with counsel worked well this way.’

‘I have found the individuals I have worked with to have good understanding and empathy about our context which they bring to bear when discussing our case. This helps because staff who work in schools generally have very limited experience of working with the law in a complex way and sometimes struggle intellectually to focus on the legal issues rather than the wider people/children context.’

‘We have used this firm in relation to conversion of PFI schools into a Multi-Academy Trust, their knowledge and experience in this area has been extremely beneficial. The team working with us are always at the end of the phone or email to answer any question (big or small) that I may have. Communication is clear.’

‘I have worked closely with both Graham Burns and Nicola Andrews. They are extremely good at keeping me informed of what is happening with our individual cases and pushing them forward. They explain things in a way a person without a legal background can understand, their knowledge of PFI is exceptional.’

Key clients

Ark Schools

Future Academies

Learning in Harmony

Leigh Academies Trust

River Learning Trust

Greenshaw Learning Trust

Diocese of Chichester Academy Trust

Kent Special Educational Needs Trust

Ivy Learning Trust

The Kemnal Academies Trust

Leo Academy Trust

The Beckmead Trust

Endeavour MAT

Whitefield Academy Trust

Academies Enterprise Trust

London South East Education Group

Stanmore College



Dulwich Prep London

Felsted School

Wycombe Abbey School

United Church Schools Trust

St George’s School, Windsor Castle

Guildford High School

Wellington School, Somerset

Work highlights

  • Advised the Chelmsford Learning Partnership in connection with a disability discrimination claim lodged on behalf of a student with an EHCP due to join the school in Year 7. The student suffers from autism. Our robust defence of the claim led the claimant to withdraw.
  • Advised a collective group of over 55 academy trusts (over 400 schools) in a successful collective action which resulted in a major concession by ESS and positively affected 70% of the academies in the country who contract with ESS (approximately 5000 academies).
  • Advised Oasis Charitable Trust in relation to the establishment of the UK’s first secure school in Medway. The Secure School policy is led by the Ministry of Justice, working in conjunction with the Department for Education and the Department for Health and Social Care, as well as NHS England.


VWV has overseen investigations into child sexual abuse, as well as advising over 300 schools on the Teachers' Pension scheme in preparation for changes in 2024. The team is led by Barney Northover, who has 22 years' specialist experience in advising independent schools on charity law, governance and M&A, and Chloe Brunton, who specialises in school reorganisation and the academies programme. Simon Bevan advises on a wide range of matters related to discrimination, industrial relations and regulation, particularly in reference to child protection incident management and providing practical and commercial solutions. Emma-Jane Dalley left in January 2022 to join DAC Beachcroft LLP, while contentious specialist James Garside was to partner in October 2021.

Practice head(s):

Barney Northover; Chloe Brunton

Other key lawyers:

Simon Bevan; James Garside


‘They understand the context and have the ability to drill down to get the information required to give very sound advice. All aspects are considered so you would be aware of any dangers or impacts of actions.’

‘Client care is outstanding and the knowledge of who to refer you to in the business is invaluable when you need immediate help and guidance and they are outstanding in this respect.’

‘Responsiveness is always excellent, and the ability for colleagues to pick up urgent issues should our usual contacts no be able. Willingness to explain in layman’s terms what legal terms mean, and the willingness to take time to explain holistically and in context.’

‘Our key contacts are very ‘human’ and relatable. Their straightforwardness makes it easy to work with them. Everyone has a voluntary role in our sector, which gives an insight and broader perspective.’

‘James Garside supports with our parental complaints and I have been extremely impressed with his ability to see a way through complex issues and provide excellent guidance in a timely manner.’

‘Simon Bevan has an excellent understanding of all aspects of our college, which means his advice and guidance are always spot on. His level of work and his commitment to the college could not be more impressive. We are exceptionally lucky to have someone of his calibre supporting us.’

‘The team are personable, they deliver on their commitments and are able to engage with non legal individuals in an effective manner.’

‘Chloe Brunton – the most knowledgeable, empathetic and personable professional I have worked with. Always accessible and no issue too small. well regarded by other people that i know who work with VWV.’

Key clients

Sea Shell Trust

Pangbourne College

Rugby School

Sikh Academies Trust

Three Spires Trust

The Harpur Trust

Taunton School

Cabot Learning Federation

Clifton College

Cheltenham Ladies’ College

Dean Close School

The White Horse Federation

Meridian Trust

Cranleigh School

Bradfield College

Exeter School

Badminton School

Malvern College

Bristol Grammar School

Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools


Christ College Brecon

Lancing College

Work highlights

  • Supported Kingsley School with its merger into the Warwick Schools Foundation. This enabled the ongoing operation of the School but within the framework and support of a broader foundation.
  • Supported a number of schools, on issues relating to peer on peer abuse in the aftermath of heightened publicity about the Everyone’s Invited website following the death of Sarah Everard in March 2021.
  • Advising on the merger of two multi academy trust to form a new merged multi academy trust comprising 12 schools.

Bates Wells

Bates Wells works across the full spectrum of education matters, particularly regarding school reforms. The practice is able to work in collaboration with the wider firm's well-regarded charity law practice, as well as drawing on in-house expertise where immigration matters are concerned. The commercial team is led by Jean Tsang, who handles mergers and acquisitions of academies and independent schools as well as establishing new independent schools. Claire Whittle was promoted to head of the public and regulatory team in April 2022, and specialises in qualification regulations, contentious education matters and safeguarding.

Practice head(s):

Jean Tsang; Claire Whittle


‘Bates Wells are the absolute experts in charity, social enterprise and education practice. They have extensive experience with start-ups, multi-academy trusts and scaling organisations which gives them a fantastic perspective and portfolio. No other firm has this expertise.’

‘Their approach is unique as they build capacity in the sector – with workshops, templates and networking to help increase skills and knowledge and spread their impact more widely than just the clients they work in depth with.’

‘They are always seeking opportunities to connect our organisation with others where there could be interesting collaboration, and this has led to strategic discussions for us and advanced our mission to make education fair.’

‘They are quick to respond with clear answers. Their answers are also jargon- and waffle-free, which is reassuring: concise, well structured, reassuring. There is a clear impression that they have extensive knowledge and experience of the educational market and the legal issues common to it.’

‘I was particularly impresssed with Jean Tsang. She stood out as someone who is keen to understand the client to ensure her expert advice is spot on. And it is so, invariably. She is flexible, and not just able to rattle off stock answers but is very precise in her advice. She also has a great command of the whole project and not just the areas which she deals with directly which is most impressive.’

Key clients

Mulberry Schools Trust

Olive Academies

St. Bede’s Foundation

City of London Academies Trust

Central Foundation Schools of London

Dolphin School

Brightside Educational Trust

Shaftesbury Young People

Raine’s School Foundation


Work highlights

  • Advising Raine’s School Foundation on complex education, charity, trust and property law matters relating to the ownership and dealings with its two East London sites.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP has a track record of handling complex work for multi-academy trusts, free schools and UTCs, including the transfer of church schools into MATs and academy conversions. The team is led by Diane Gilhooley, who handles contentious and non-contentious areas of education governance, including tribunals, organisational change and harrassment claims, and Ben Wood, who specialises in advising educational establishments on governance and employment matters.

Practice head(s):

Diane Gilhooley; Ben Wood


‘The whole team has a very strong customer focus, friendly, professional and approachable. Evidence of collaboration across the organisation to ensure the best placed person is assigned with supporting any query.’

‘The people are intelligent, demonstrate high levels of moral integrity and humanity. They are also very emotional intelligent and able to deal effectively to a wide range of different, and often complex situations.’

‘Billing is timely, fair and you receive a high quality of service. They are not the cheapest but in our experience are the best at what the do and the quality of service they offer.’

‘Ben Wood has been absolutely excellent. He is highly responsive, astute and understands the nuances of highly complex situations very well. He has a high level of emotional intelligence and an excellent ability to engage effectively with a wide range of stakeholders.’

‘The Education: Schools practice at Eversheds Sutherland is experienced, competent and responsive, with a broad base of knowledge in academisation, assets transfers, new building projects and DfE interaction.’

‘Availability of experts in different fields has been invaluable when we have needed assistance in a new area at short notice. Skills, knowledge appear to be of a high standard.’

‘All individuals dealt with over the last year have been professional, knowledgeable and approachable. In most cases response times have been excellent. The service feels like it is a considerable step above that which we receive from other firms’

Key clients

Cambridge Meridian Academy Trust

Chelsea Academy

LEAD Academy Trust

ACS International Schools

Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust

Nova Education Trust

The Harmony Trust

Potteries Education Trust

The Great Schools Trust

The Laidlaw Schools Trust

Beacon Multi Academy Trust

Alpha Academies Trust

Work highlights

  • Advising on a complex array of academy projects including establishing maths schools, closing University Technical Colleges, academising sixth form colleges and advising on PFI issues.
  • Advising schools and academies on their response to social media and other campaigning and threats of legal proceedings by staff, students, parents and third parties.
  • Advising schools and academies on Local Government Pensions Scheme issues arising from the outsourcings and insourcing of services.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys

Harrison Clark Rickerbys  fields a ‘multi-talented, adept, informed and engaged team of lawyers’ with vast knowledge of the independent school sector. The practice’s expertise ranges from employment matters to M&A and trade union issues. ‘Exceptional leader’ Kristine Scott, whose work includes issues pertaining to sensitive dismissals and parental complaints, heads the Cheltenham-based team. Emma Swann brings to bear experience in pastoral, governance, and commercial matters, while Rachel Parkin is praised for providing ‘pragmatic advice and realistic solutions to a range of complex issues’.

Practice head(s):

Kristine Scott

Other key lawyers:

Emma Swann; Rachel Parkin; Kate Hickey


‘A very knowledgeable and responsive team.’

‘Rachel Parkin can be relied upon to provide pragmatic advice and realistic solutions to a range of complex issues. Her education-sector expertise is second to none and she has proven to be a trusted advisor throughout some quite turbulent times.’

‘Kristine Scott leads a multi talented, adept, informed and engaged team of lawyers. The advice is accurate, timely and pragmatic.’

‘HCR’s strength and depth within the Education Sector is very impressive. They are proactive and always on top of the detail specific to our industry.’

‘They have the range of services and departments that you would expect in a top tier law firm but match this with a very high level of responsive and personal service.’

‘Kristine Scott is an exceptional leader of their education team. She provides clear, concise and pragmatic advice. She is always responsive and quickly directs specific requests to relevant departments if she is not best placed to advise herself.’

Key clients


Headington School

St Dunstan’s College

Independent Schools’ Council

Cheltenham College

Wellingborough School

Stamford Endowed Schools

Stowe School

Moore Barlow

Moore Barlow advises independent schools on a wide range of issues, including mental health issues, trade union matters and anti-vaccination protests. Joanna Lada-Walicki  advises on complex employment and pastoral issues, including matters related to bullying, sexual misconduct and allegations of abuse. Ben Collingwood advises on SEN, safeguarding and child personal data issues. Gordon Reid focuses particularly on the charity side of education law, including governance, public benefits and reporting serious incidents to the Charity Commission. Associate Adam McRae-Taylor advises on safeguarding and pastoral issues.

Practice head(s):

Joanna Lada-Walicki

Other key lawyers:

Ben Collingwood; Gordon Reid; Adam McRae-Taylor


‘We moved to using Moore Barlow after a successful reorganisation piece of work which was handled with sensitivity and careful practical planning. Questions and queries are answered in a very timely manner and meetings held in person where possible.’

‘We have a close and strong relationship with both contacts at the firm who have dealt with HR issues at our school. They are quick to respond and clear in their explanations on what is possible and and not possible. Ben Collingwood and Adam McRae-Taylor are always personable in their approach and helpful with honest and practical solutions.’

‘Excellent service in assisting us though an employment consultation. First time using Moore Barlow and looking to move further work over based on our experience.’

‘A well balanced and dependable team, who provide a wealth of sound advice. They are friendly, customer-focussed, understand the sector and have good insight into the business side of a charitable independent school. They deliver good value and consistently high quality advice.’

‘Ben Collingwood quickly grasps complex issues and reduces them to their essential components without over simplifying. He is responsive and gives clear, sound advice. Gordon Reid is dependable and solid, giving a great, reliable service. Adam McRae-Taylor has always reliably and successfully guided us though the complexities of employment law.’

‘Broad and detailed knowledge and experience within the team. A one-stop shop for all education/charity issues. Prompt response to any issues and always willing to help or recommend someone who can.’

‘Professional, quick to respond, relevant experience, pragmatic.’

‘All I can say is that those who have given advice and prepared documents went beyond the usual effort to make sure that everything ran smoothly.’

Key clients

Seaford College

St Albans High School for Girls

Royal Grammar School, Guildford

Badminton School

Forest School

Cranford House School

Eastbourne College

St Paul’s Girls’ School

Hurstpierpoint College

Bede’s School

Work highlights

  • Advised various schools in connection with post-pandemic mental health and special educational needs issues including: anxiety disorders, depression, diverse behavioural conditions and attempted suicide.
  • Advised a leading London independent school on a TPS consultation involving changing the terms and conditions of over 200 teachers including managing the involvement of two separate trade unions, strike action and requests for recognition.
  • Advised many schools in relation to anti-vaccination protesters at the school gates and communications received from anti-vaccination campaign groups, including threats of litigation based on alleged harm to pupils caused by vaccination of pupils on school premises.

BDB Pitmans

BDB Pitmans specialises in complex governance and charity law matters, as well as providing commercial advice relating to supply agreements, intellectual property considerations and data protection. The team is led by Penny Chapman, who specialises in providing charity law advice to independent schools and charitable institutions in the education sector. Jonathan Fewster offers particular expertise in the real estate sector. Associate Alice Unwin assists on many of these matters, including mergers and acquisitions and governance health checks and reviews.

Practice head(s):

Penny Chapman

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Fewster; Alice Unwin

Key clients

Bolton School

Moulsford Preparatory School

Beechwood Park School

Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools (AGBIS)

The Mount School (York)

Finton House Educational Trust

The Independent Schools Bursars Association

Cripplegate Schools Foundation – Lady Eleanor Holles

Westminster School

Work highlights

  • Providing a range of charity, governance and property advice to Westminster School. Recent work has included advising on: charity law compliance in relation to property transactions; the School’s relationship with connected charities; completing the Privy Council application to update the School’s statutes.
  • Advising 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.
  • Working with AGBIS (the Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools) on a detailed Governance Manual (comprising 22 policies) that has been made available as a model for all its of its member schools.

Doyle Clayton

Doyle Clayton advises on a wide range of matters, from crowdfunding to organising and union mergers. The team is led by the ‘formidableSimon Henthorn, who has advised on removals of head teachers, potential industrial action and safeguarding matters. Peter Daly advises on disputes relating to employment and discrimination, and has recently been involved in a series of high-profile cases.

Practice head(s):

Simon Henthorn

Other key lawyers:

Peter Daly


‘Simon Henthorn is formidable in this area.’

‘The employment team has good experience in working with schools and acted quickly and efficiently with the issue at hand.’

‘I was introduced to the team due to their strong experience in employment issues related to independent schools.’

‘I find Doyle Clayton to be highly responsive, knowledgeable and efficient.’

‘I mostly work with Simon Henthorn, who is extremely good to work with. He responds extremely promptly, accepts when he needs to look something up, and is available for conversations whenever I need him, often at very short notice.’

Key clients

Portsmouth Grammar School

Kensington Wade

Christ the King Sixth Form College

Hampton School

Lee Bolton Monier-Williams

Lee Bolton Monier-Williams's ecclesiastical, education and charities department is led by senior partner Howard Dellar, who has 'the most extensive breadth of experience' and is 'excellent at managing conflict between differing parties'. He works alongside senior associate Ella Westby , who has 'detailed technical knowledge of matters to do with church schools in relation to academy conversions and land issues.' The firm is particularly known for its advice on Church of England school matters - recent work has included advising on issues relating to school sites, school partnerships, academy conversions, updates to trusts and other complex contentious matters.

Practice head(s):

Howard Dellar

Other key lawyers:

Ella Westby; Jane Grenfell


‘Ella Westby – Efficient, thorough and friendly’

‘Jane Grenfell – clarity of analysis in relation to old school sites and implications of reverter.’

‘Howard Dellar is very personable but he is also wise and knowledgeable. He succeeds in delivering challenging messages in a supportive way and is very responsive to the needs and wishes of the client. We particularly appreciate his pragmatism whilst still holding to our legal best interests with great clarity. Howard is also excellent at managing conflict between differing parties.’

‘Ella Westby is simply outstanding. Her advice is clear, succinct and consistently correct and accurate. She is very approachable and easy to work with. Ella responds rapidly which has not always been our experience with other firms. We always feel our work matters personally to her and that the firm is invested in our concerns.’

‘LBMW have a detailed and sympathetic understanding of legal issues facing church schools from detailed knowledge of the legislation and wide experience in complex cases, particularly involving academisation and school site issues.’

‘Ella Westby – rapid turn around of work, sensible and practical advice, good with third parties, sharp and doesn’t miss much, growing and detailed technical knowledge of matters to do with church schools in relation to academy conversions and land issues. Ian Blaney – calm, practical and experienced offering carefully researched legal advice including on complex land issues. His advice is to be trusted.

‘All of the individuals we have worked with have been superb. However, Ella Westby deserves a special mention. She is supremely knowledgeable and often has answers to more complex queries readily available or is able to provide advice quickly. She is tenacious in her dealings with other legal professionals, and her updates are appropriately detailed and offered in plain English which enables those of us outside the legal profession to easily understand and make often important and far-reaching decisions.’

‘The team is so responsive and helpful. So much expertise and they are really quick to get back to us. We pay an annual retainer and it’s such good value. They are really the best in England on the specific issues to do with Church schools. I really appreciate the way they try to solve problems rather than just explain what the legal obstacles to something are. They have a really strong empathy with our moral purpose as a Trust and support that.’

Key clients

Hurst Education Trust Limited

Oxford Diocesan Board of Education

St Edmundsbury & Ipswich Diocesan Board of Education

St Edmundsbury & Ipswich Diocesan Multi-Academy Trust

Canterbury Diocesan Board of Education

Litchfield Diocesan Board of Education

The Bishop Otter Academy Trust

Chichester Diocesan Board of Education

Work highlights

  • Advised a Diocese on a possible reversion of a school site. The claimant reversioners withdrew their claim.
  • Advised a Diocese after reverter was triggered over part of the school site.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP  advises education clients on corporate strategies, M&A and safeguarding, amongst other matters. Its clients are largely independent schools and school groups; the team is led by Jonathan Greenwood, who specialises in transactions and advises on corporate matters including restructurings, joint venture and shared services initiatives. Sarah Seed advises many leading private schools matters related to debt securities.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Greenwood


‘Good knowledge of the sector; responsive to client needs;’

‘Individuals have good industry knowledge – they have built up a good working relationship with us and have sought to understand our needs and to build responses based on this.’

‘They are responsive to requests for meetings and creative in thinking through potential solutions.’

Key clients

Academies Enterprise Trust

Wellington College

The Dragon School

Harrow School

Rugby School

North London Collegiate

Brentwood School

The United Westminster and Greycoat Foundation

Uppingham School

Christ’s Hospital

St Dunstan’s

Kings School, Ely

Knightsbridge School

Haberdashers’ Aske’s School

Work highlights

  • Advised Rugby School on its debut private placement of debt securities
  • Advising Brentwood School on a £30m private placement of debt securities, the first in the history of the School, to fund enhancements on the School estate.
  • Advised North London Collegiate School on a £17m private placement of debt securities with a UK investor, to fund developments on the School campus

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Trowers & Hamlins LLP's practice focuses on real estate transactions, including acquiring sites for new schools and advising on construction and mixed-use sites. The team is led by Assad Maqbool, who leads on work for the Secretary of State for Education in relation to free schools, and Amardeep Gill, who advises on commercial education matters for central government and local authorities.

Practice head(s):

Assad Maqbool; Amardeep Gill


‘Trowers have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the sector stemming from the long-standing support they have given to the Department for Education over the last decade. This expertise is particularly strong in the property and construction teams.’

‘The team at Trowers combine excellent technical expertise with commercial nous and it is this practical approach that I value particularly highly.’

Work highlights

  • Advised the DfE on the construction and property aspect of over 100 schools projects from acquisition to refurbishment or new build (permanent and temporary).

Winckworth Sherwood LLP

Winckworth Sherwood LLP advises multi-academy trusts, local authorities and teaching unions, among other organisations, on a range of issues including parental complaints, special educational needs and safeguarding. In addition to the new challenges presented by COVID-19, the practice has advised on problems resulting from the inappropriate use of TikTok. The team is led by Andrea Squires  who works with dioceses and advises on estate regeneration, PFI and disputes. Aida Smajlovic was promoted to partner in April 2022.

Practice head(s):

Andrea Squires

Other key lawyers:

Aida Smajlovic


‘The team knows the context of the employment dispute within the education sector, inside out. It is unusual to have employment experts with such a specialist knowledge of the education sector, and is of huge benefit to their clients.’

‘Aida Smajlovic’s judgement is spot-on as a result of her extensive experience within employment law, but her specialist expertise within the sector sets her apart from her competitors. She is a shining light of sensible, practical advice for her education clients but she is also tenacious and tough in support of her clients’ best interests.’

‘The team at Winckworth Sherwood are extremely accessible and their legal knowledge is excellent. They provide pragmatic advice in an accessible way. I always feel supported and our working relationship feels like a partnership. If I have a query which requires specialist legal advice, the partner or associate I am speaking to will either consult with a colleague, or will forward my query to the relevant specialist team.’

‘I have worked with a number of individuals at Winckworth Sherwood. However, my stand-out partner is Aida Smajlovic. I have worked with her on a number of complex disciplinary and grievance investigations. She has always provided timely advice and I always feel that Aida is happy to talk through issues and scenarios. Her advice is always practical and robust.’

‘Nothing is ever too much trouble for the Winckworth Sherwood team; they are simultaneously professional and personable. People are at the heart of their practice and they take the time to really get to know their clients’ needs in order to deliver a bespoke, efficient and outstanding service.’

‘The team at Winckworth Sherwood have real expertise in the overlap between employment and education law, and the particularly complexities that that can give rise to. I am impressed by their knowledge of the nuances created by employers being, for example, charities, faith schools, and academies. Their advice is practical and commercial but, importantly, sector specific.’

‘Aida Smajlovic is great with clients. Her advice is commercial and always extremely objective-focused for clients. She understands what clients want and need to achieve, and helps them navigate the relevant areas of law to achieve those objectives.’

‘Unusually within education law, Winckworth Sherwood have leading solicitors with experience of acting on both the school-side and parent-side which assists them when acting for schools. They are impressive at dealing with discrimination law issues.’

Key clients

Rickmansworth School

Peterborough Council

The Bishop’s Stortford High School

St Joseph’s Catholic Academy Trust

Diocese of Hallam

The Church of England Education Office (also known as the National Society

East Barnet School

All Saints Catholic School

The Bishop’s Stortford High School

The Association of Muslim Schools

London Borough of Haringey

Diocese of Westminster Academy Trust

Herts for Learning Multi Academy Trust

Catholic Education Service

Work highlights

  • Assisted the establishment of a turnaround MAT project, a pilot project run by the Department for Education, focusing on schools which have been failing for some and where all the usual intervention triggers have been exhausted.
  • Successfully acted for All Saints Catholic School in defending a number of employment tribunal claims brought by former employees of the school. The claims related to unfair dismissal and whistleblowing.
  • Providing schools with a range of support on various issues which have arisen in schools as a result of Covid-19, which have touched on a number of specialisms including contracts, parental complaints, special educational needs, data protection, safeguarding, employment law.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP has overseen a number of major academy conversions and transfers in addition to advising on governance, commercial and property matters. The team is led by Kevin Robertson, who specialises in local authority and school matters including academy conversions and the Priority School Building Programme, and Iain Greenshields, who advises local authorities including a number of major city councils on construction projects. Emma Moody advises on mergers, collaborations and complex governance issues.

Practice head(s):

Kevin Robertson; Iain Greenshields

Other key lawyers:

Emma Moody


‘WBD always provides high quality service and supported by excellent customer relationships. Other firms don’t have this dynamic combination.’

‘Attention to detail, all work and responses delivered in a timely fashion and high quality work.’

Key clients

Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)

Department for Education (DfE)


Oak Learning Trust

Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust

Bishop Bewick Catholic Academy Trust

Catcote Academy

Eden Learning Trust

St Lawrence Education Trust (which operates Ampleforth College and St Martin’s Ampleforth (prep school))

Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust

Waterton Academy Trust, Wakefield

Sewell Education York Limited

Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust

Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School

Pocklington School

Vision Academy Learning Trust

Skills for Life Trust, Kent

The Constellation Trust

Horizons Specialist Academy Trust

Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust

Bevan Brittan LLP

Bevan Brittan LLP has a track record of work with the Department for Education and the Welsh Government, particularly in developing free schools and new schools in Wales. It also advises local authorities on the impact of schools acquiring academy status. Head of practice Andrew Tobin advises on a wide range of educational matters and focuses on the construction and refurbishment of schools. He is supported by David Hutton, who handles the project finance side of education-led regeneration projects.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Tobin

Other key lawyers:

David Hutton


‘Experience in public sector’

Key clients

Department for Education

London Borough of Camden

Welsh Assembly Government

London Borough of Lewisham

Barnsley Local Education Partnership

London Borough of Hackney

City of London Corporation

South Gloucestershire Council

Work highlights

  • Advising numerous local councils in Wales on new school building projects as part of the £1.5bn 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme.
  • Advising the Department for Education on over 20 free school building projects.
  • Advising the London Borough of Camden on the re-location of a free school to be co-located at the site of another school.

Blake Morgan LLP

Blake Morgan LLP handles work for a wide range of schools, including academy, free and independent schools, particularly working in the areas of child protection, employment law and regulatory work. The practice also handles mergers and acquisitions, assists with land management acquisitions and advises diocesan authorities on faith schools. Head of the education practice Matthew Smith advises on industrial relations, strikes and restructuring of senior leadership teams. Other key members of the team include legal director Ben Brice and senior associate Kirsteen Hook.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Smith

Other key lawyers:

Kirsteen Hook

Key clients

King Edward VI School

St Swithun’s School, Winchester

University of Chichester Multi-Academy Trust

The Portsmouth Grammar School

Winchester Diocesan Board of Finance

Solent Academies Trust

The Gallery Trust

Hamwic Education Trust

Portsmouth Grammar School

Hereford Sixth Form College/Heart of Mercia

Brighton & Hove City Council

Education Workforce Council

Teaching Regulation Agency

Work highlights

  • Advising The Gallery Trust (which runs seven special schools dedicated to providing outstanding education and support for young people with special needs and disabilities) on proposed conversions, governance and expansion of the academy trust and providing a wide range of property services including advising on post-conversion consent applications for land dealings.
  • Advising Hamwic Education Trust, which currently operates 34 academies across the South of England and has a number of community operations and partnerships, on a number of academy conversions and other governance advice and support.
  • Acting as legal advisers to professional conduct panels of the Teacher Regulation Authority (and prior to that, the General Teaching Council for England) in relation to disciplinary proceedings against teachers.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP covers immigration, employment and debt recovery work for a growing number of schools, as well as handling cases related to SEN tribunals, discrimination and historic abuse claims. The team is led by Gemma Woodhouse, who advises on both contentious and non-contentious employment matters, with a particular focus on cases related to discrimination allegations. Associate Katie Glendinning focuses on advising independent schools in areas including the removal of pupils for behavioural issues, challenging EHCPs and admissions queries.

Practice head(s):

Gemma Woodhouse

Other key lawyers:

Katie Glendinning


‘Penningtons have excellent relationships with us as the client. Our point of contact, Katie Glendinning, is excellent. We are a relatively small school and so having a consistent point of contact helps maintain consistency for us and to build relationships with our legal partner.’

‘Katie Glendinning is exceptional. Her attention to detail is outstanding and she has taken time to understand our school and our context to best give advice that fits us. Katie’s response time allows us to act on situations quickly and I have consistently found her support to be first class.’

‘The team are knowledgeable and able to anticipate and communicate any changes which may affect our business.’

‘Gemma Woodhouse – empathetic, excellent understanding of challenges in independent schools. Clear, decisive, objective. Supports client’s direction of travel but keeps us firmly on the right side.’

‘Gemma Woodhouse is a total star – amazingly accessible, practical and responsive.’

‘Gemma Woodhouse is fantastic. She always has time for us, and provides wise, nuanced answers on any topic we need. I think it is her approachability and genuine desire to understand our specific situation that sets her apart from other legal firms we have worked with.’

‘The Employment team take time to really understand our business, the issues we face and the challenges we need to overcome. As such their advice is then tailored and bespoke and always achieves the desired results. Excellent support team for our in-house HR and Management team.’

‘Gemma Woodhouse is an outstanding business partner. She knows me, my style and my business challenges. As such she goes out of her way to offer a range of solutions all of which will achieve the desired outcome but tailored to my style. Similarly Katie Glendinning has been trained well under Gemma and is also an excellent business partner for myself and my business and I have worked with both individuals across various businesses over the years.’

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

The Stephen Perse Foundation

Falkner House Preparatory School

Mander Portman Woodward

Work highlights

  • Assisting with the removal of a bursary for a vulnerable child as a result of safeguarding concerns regarding the child’s conduct at school and ancillary issues regarding his placement going forward.
  • Advising on the exclusion of a student with various learning difficulties, and disciplinary action to be taken against another student as a result of an altercation between the two students, and exchanging inappropriate messages on social media.
  • Advising a leading independent school on the proposed withdrawal from the TPS, including collective consultation requirements and potential employee grievances, industrial action and union recognition.

Sharpe Pritchard LLP

Sharpe Pritchard LLP works on schooling matters with reference to both local government and central government. Much of the work is focused on construction and property, although the practice also handles apprenticeship training and teacher recruitment. The team is led by Annie Moy, who specialises in the construction and establishment of new schools, and head of services Tim Farr, whose focus is on procurement and strategic public-private partnerships.

Practice head(s):

Annie Moy; Tim Farr

Key clients

Hammersmith and Fulham Council

East Sussex County Council

Withers LLP

Withers LLP advises schools in relation to property, data protection and reputation management. Its work with academy trusts dates back to advising the first academy conversion back in 2003. The team is led by Alison Paines, who advises charities and non-profits, Chris Priestley, who handles commercial projects, and Philip Reed, who advises independent schools, academy trusts and other education providers on critical issues including governance, strategic advice and restructuring.

Practice head(s):

Alison Paines; Chris Priestley; Philip Reed


‘What is unique is having US charity specialists in London and UK charity specialists in New York. You don’t get sent from pillar to post (which happens with other firms who also ‘claim’ a dual-qualified mix).’

Work highlights

  • Advised SEEK Group, as lead investor in the GBP 15M Series B financing into MyTutor, with participation from existing investors.