Next Generation Partners

Education: schools in London

Browne Jacobson LLP

Browne Jacobson LLP provides ‘exceptional advice and guidance‘ to schools and academy trusts and is active on the full range of education matters, including safeguarding, data protection, Ofsted inspection challenges, responses to industrial action, and parental complaints. The team is particularly well-regarded for its close relationships with many of the country’s largest multi-academy trusts, who frequently instruct the team to provide corporate advice in the context of restructuring, academy conversion, and governance matters. The team comprises multidisciplinary specialists across the UK and is led by Nottingham-based lawyer Mark Blois, who handles a wide array of governance matters and is also highly recommended for his ability to provide advice on new DfE guidelines surrounding employment and safeguarding issues. Other key contacts in the team include the Exeter-based Julia Green, who is reputed for her expertise in academy conversions, Birmingham lawyers Richard Freeth and Philip Wood, who are key contacts for pastoral and admissions issues, and Nottingham-based Ofsted inspections expert Katie Michelon. In London, Charlotte Antoniou is noted for her close relations with academy trusts and her ability to handle restructuring matters and parental complaints.

Practice head(s):

Mark Blois

Other key lawyers:

Julia Green; Richard Freeth; Kate Michelon; Nick Mackenzie; Charlotte Antoniou; Dai Durbridge; Philip Wood


‘The education team at Browne Jacobson offers exceptional advice and guidance to the sector, both in terms of paid legal advice and the pro bono support they provide to help build sector capacity.’

‘Mark Blois, partner and head of the education practice, is exceptional. He is a national leader of governance, a disability champion, and a highly valued colleague. Nick Mackenzie is also a wonderful colleague – always on the other end of a telephone, he always offers caring, compassionate and astute advice.’

‘We value the confidence of knowing we can be open and honest about any areas of concern we have. We work very closely with Mark Blois, who is our point of contact, and Katie Michelon. Both offer added value through providing insight into sector challenges and opportunities without compromising relationships with other clients.’

Key clients

Accord Multi Academy Trust

Achievement Through Collaboration Trust

An Daras Multi Academy Trust

Ansford Academy Trust

Arthur Terry Learning Partnership

Aspire Education Trust

Bath & Wells Diocesan Academy Trust

Beckfoot Trust

Believe Academy Trust

Blessed Edward Bamber Catholic Multi Academy Trust

Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College

Bright Futures Educational Trust

Brooke Weston Trust

Central RSA Academies Trust

Champion Education Trust

Changing Lives Learning Trust

Cheshire Academies Trust

Chiltern Learning Trust

Work highlights

Farrer & Co

As a ‘leading light in the field of education and schools‘, Farrer & Co works with a diverse client base that encompasses independent schools and associations and offers ‘pioneering guidance in areas such as safeguarding and EDI‘. In addition to its widely recognised safeguarding expertise, the team is also well-equipped to handle cross-border commercial matters, with lawyers regularly advising on partnerships and school openings, mergers, and trade marks. Increasingly, the firm also assists clients with their attempts to challenge the results of ISI and Ofsted inspections. Practice head Jonathan Eley often advises on high-profile employment matters, including strike action and crisis management, and frequently works with vastly experienced safeguarding specialist David Smellie, employment lawyer Alice Yandle, and former barrister Katie Fudakowski to handle complex safeguarding, SEN, and equality issues. Sam Macdonald continues to be a highly recommended specialist for restructuring and governance matters, and Paul Jones is a key contact for commerical contracts and partnerships. Maria Strauss is particularly noted for her expertise in safeguarding investigations.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Eley

Other key lawyers:

David Smellie; Sam Macdonald; Alice Yandle; Katie Fudakowski; Paul Jones; Maria Strauss


‘Our counsel at Farrers understand the unique needs and culture of our school in a way that is unlike any other legal firm I have worked with. They are highly responsive and can be relied upon to give timely, thorough and helpful advice. Their knowledge of safeguarding issues in education is second to none.’

‘Katie Fudakowski is a fountain of knowledge, especially as it pertains to safeguarding issues in education. When we work with her, we feel that we are in very good hands and that we are getting top-of-the-line legal advice.’

‘Their depth of knowledge is unparalleled and the overall quality of their team is consistently impressive. Their special expertise in safeguarding matters is hugely valued.’

‘Paul Jones stands out as he has a long experience of the independent schools sector and is aware of forthcoming changes in legislation that will affect the operation of schools. An intricate and sensitive area for schools which he handles with knowledge and clear direction.’

‘Alice Yandle is an excellent lawyer and a fantastic all-round operator. Her client care skills are superb: She takes great trouble to get to know the client well, both the institution and the individuals who work there. She always goes above and beyond for her clients, fights hard for them when needed, and is always strategic in her approach. I am confident that she will continue to be a really valuable asset to the firm and the sector.’

‘A market leading team with strength in depth and partners who are sector leaders. You get a quality service from Farrer & Co, and their sector insights are valuable.’

‘Expert knowledge, particularly in safeguarding, anti-racism and equalities law. Kind, reassuring manner with gravitas and confidence.’

‘Farrer & Co is not only a leading light in the field of Education and Schools, they are frankly stellar. They know the DNA of schools inside out and play a hugely influential role in pioneering guidance in areas such as Safeguarding and EDI. Principled but pragmatic, intellectual and innovative, we feel fortunate to have them working alongside us and understanding our community as well as they do.’

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 Shrewsbury School on its collaboration with Tutor Impact for the opening and operation of a new, premium international boarding school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
  • Advised City of London Freeman’s School on an agreement with international partner schools for the delivery of the School’s virtual GCSE and A-Level programme.
  • Advised the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association (ISBA) on the drafting and annual updating of the ISBA Model Parent Contract, which is used by independent schools across the UK and which is widely regarded as the model for best practice in the industry.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys

Harrison Clark Rickerbys stands out for its relationships with schools and governing bodies such as the Independent Schools Bursars’ Association, who instruct the firm’s ‘high-performing and experienced’ education team to advise on a wide range of matters, including safeguarding issues, strikes, pensions, and new and emerging DfE guidelines. The firm also regularly handles corporate and governance issues related to mergers and school acquisitions, and it is well-equipped to provide strategic guidance on issues related to employment and charity law. Practice head and safeguarding Kristine Scott is based in Cheltenham and maintains close relations with a many of the firm’s governing body clients. Also in Cheltenham, Rachel Parkin and Oliver Daniels are recommended for their experience handling employment issues and their advice on teachers’ strikes, while real estate expert Morgan West is a key contact for land sales and purchases as well as academy conversions.

Practice head(s):

Kristine Scott

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Parkin; Oliver Daniels; Morgan West


‘Professional, effective and efficient.’

‘The Education team at Harrison Clark Rickerbys is a high performing and experience team of partners and associates who are market leaders in their sector. They provide a comprehensive and ‘one stop’ option for busy clients who require timely and pragmatic advice to complex issues.’

‘Kristine Scott is outstanding, recognised nationally by schools and various professional associations as the ‘go to’ person for advice and support. Despite running the busy Cheltenham office and heading up the education practice, she makes herself personally available to clients in order to provide boards and schools with the best support possible.’

‘Outstanding sector knowledge of all relevant legal issues. Advice is always focused, timely and comprehensive. All the team are friendly and approachable.’

‘Oliver Daniels is a star whose advice is characterised by being well thought through, comprehensive and realistic.’

‘Led by Kristine Scott, the team are exceptional throughout. They understand all facets of the sector and can advise schools confidently and knowledgeably. Their advice is pragmatic, on point and timely.’

‘Kristine Scott offers accessibility, quality of advice, and sector knowledge. Rachel Parkin is a deep specialist in employment law and a valuable advisor to schools. Oliver Daniels is also an employment law specialist whose detailed knowledge and practical answers to questions are very valuable to schools.’

Key clients

Canford School

Cheltenham College

Cheltenham Ladies College

Headington School

Holy Cross Preparatory

Independent Schools’ Council

St Dunstan’s College

St Mary’s School Ascot

St Peter’s York

Stamford Endowed Schools

Stowe School

The Independent Schools’ Bursars Association

The Royal Masonic School for Girls

Uppingham School

Wellingborough School

Work highlights

  • Advised the Independent Schools Bursars’ Association (ISBA) on significant issues for the education sector.
  • Advised the Headington School (Oxford) on September 2022 updates to school guidelines, which formed part of the school’s inspection evidence when inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.
  • Advised St Edward’s School, Cheltenham on a proposed sale or merger by helping to find them a buyer or merging partner as well as providing the legal advice on the actual sale or merger.

Stone King LLP

Stone King LLP offers its roster of state school, faith school, multi academy trust, and independent school clients across England first-rate advice on admissions policies, especially in connection with safeguarding and equality matters. The team is also active on contracting and commercial issues, having advised on a number of mergers and academy conversions as well as on the establishment of new schools in the UK and abroad. The multidisciplinary team is jointly led by four lawyers based across the UK. Roger Inman, who is based in Cambridge, is a trusted advisor on school governance matters, especially with respect to SEN policies. London-based lawyer Graham Burns is reputed for his work on PFI school conversions and transfers, while Tom Morrison, who practices from Bath, is a safeguarding expert, and Leeds further education specialist Tom Morrison advises MATs on their governance and structuring policies. The practice heads are further supported by London-based lawyers Laura Berman, an admissions and safeguarding specialist, Lee Coley, who maintains close relations with a number of faith schools, and Stephen Ravenscroft, who is trusted to handle mergers and academy conversions.

Practice head(s):

Roger Inman; Graham Burns; Helen Tucker; Tom Morrison

Other key lawyers:

Laura Berman; Lee Coley; Stephen Ravenscroft

Key clients


Astrea Academy Trust

Future Academies

Greenshaw Learning Trust

Hoddesdon School Trust

Ivy Learning Trust

Leigh Academies Trust

The Kemnals Academy Trust

Oasis Charitable Trust

Middlesex Learning Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised The Kemnals Academies Trust on their admission arrangements to ensure that these are robust and legally secure.
  • Advised a collective group of 55 academy trusts on a successful collective class action which resulted in a major concession by Education Software Solutions and positively affected 70% of the academies in the country who contract with ESS, and which in addition led to a positive intervention by the CMA.
  • Advised Oasis Charitable Trust on the establishment of the UK’s first secure school in Medway.


The education team at VWV stands out for its strategic and operational expertise and is widely considered a ‘market leader in the independent schools sector’. The team is trusted to assist with high-value projects, including major school acquisitions and sales, restructuring matters, and academy trust formations. Clients also frequently instruct the team, which has strong relationships with major sector organisations and regulators, to advise on regulatory matters in the context of safeguarding and equality issues. Barney Northover, who has advised independent schools on some of the most significant mergers and governance matters in the sector, co-leads the practice from Bristol with Chloe Brunton, who provides advice to academies and MATs on conversions and reorganisations. Also in Bristol, Simon Bevan continues to be highly regarded for his expertise across the spectrum of employment and discrimination matters. Alice Reeve, who divides her time between Bristol and Birmingham, has advised on major safeguarding matters and provided employment advice in the context of industrial action, and London-based lawyer Yvonne Spencer is a key contact for complex regulatory matters involving parental claims and complaints.

Practice head(s):

Barney Northover; Chloe Brunton

Other key lawyers:

Simon Bevan; Alice Reeve; Yvonne Spencer; Nick Murrell; Sian Champkin


‘VWV’s team has a broad range of experience, which means that we are confident that any legal query will be dealt with by someone with an understanding of the education sector.’

‘Chloe Brunton is a genuine leader in the sector. She is responsive, empathetic and comes up with solutions rather than focusing on the worst case scenario. Nick Murrell has provided valuable advice on some tricky employment law issues and has a very sensible approach to solving problems.’

‘Good, broad knowledge of all education law.’

‘The VWV Education team is regarded as a market leader in the independent schools sector. They remain up-to-date in all issues facing schools and are therefore able to actively advise and participate in strategic debates with the executive and governing bodies, rather than merely provide advice on identified solutions.’

‘Barney Northover is a highly knowledgeable and experienced legal professional who understands the issues facing schools and how effective management and governance impacts on outcomes. He treats each school on an individual basis, seeking to identify solutions that are relevant for their particular solution rather than enforce a previously used methodology. He is rare in the legal profession in that he is willing to spend much of his time listening! Barney is often in a position where he is presenting solutions to issues that schools have yet to identify.’

‘Sian Champkin’s positive can-do attitude has ensured that outcomes have been achieved when with others the project may have ground to a halt. She is very knowledgeable and understands both the issues facing schools today and potential issues on the horizon.’

Key clients

Aurora Academies Trust

Aylesbury Grammar School

Charterhouse School

Cheltenham Ladies’ College

Clifton College

Concept Education

Cranleigh School

Creative Education Trust


Enlighten Learning Trust

Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation Trust

Harris Federation

JFS School

London Diocesan Board for Schools

Monmouth Schools

Orchard Hill College Academy Trust

Pangbourne College

Rugby School

Sikh Academies Trust

South Bank Academies

The Golden Thread Alliance

The Harpur Trust

The Heart Education Trust

The Skinners Company

The Skinners’ School

Tove Learning Trust

United Learning Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised The Skinners’ Company and its family of schools on the formation of a new multi academy trust.
  • Advised the Moreton Hall Educational Trust on the sale of the school, providing strategic advice and technical advice including charity, corporate, employment, real estate, commercial and regulatory compliance.

Bates Wells

Bates Wells maintains close relationships with a large roster of independent schools and multi-academy trusts, who instruct the team to advise on wide-reaching governance reviews, school reorganisations, and matters related to charity law. The team also regularly handles contentious mandates, including in relation to employment and contracting issues, and assists with a growing number of school mergers and acquisitions. For charity law and governance issues, practice head Jean Tsang, who has extensive experience advising on the establishment of new schools and educational charities, is a key contact. Mark Traynor, who provides real estate advice in connection with school mergers and acquisitions, is a name to note. Claire Whittle left for DLA Piper.

Practice head(s):

Jean Tsang

Other key lawyers:

Mark Traynor


‘The Team immediately understood the organisation and brief, even before we met for the first time. Different members of the team were able to assist with different aspects of our requirement, and it felt like each individual was very knowledgeable on our organisation.’

‘We were very ably assisted by Jean Tsang. She always came to each meeting with great energy and knowledge on each topic we discussed.’

Key clients


Brightside Educational Trust

Central Foundation Schools of London

City of London Academies Trust

Dolphin School

HMC – The Heads’ Conference

Holland Park School


Mulberry Schools Trust

Olive Academies

Raine’s School Foundation

Shaftesbury Young People

St. Bede’s Foundation

Work highlights

  • Advised HMC – The Heads’ Conference on a wide-ranging governance and constitutional review to ensure its governance is fit for purpose.

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP provides ‘knowledgeable, professional, and pragmatic advice to a wide range of state and private schools across the full range of education law, with a particular capacity for advising multi-academy trusts on conversions and acquisitions, restructuring matters, and contentious and non-contentious issues in relation to safeguarding and student inclusivity. The team is also well-regarded for its advice on employment matters, having been instructed to advise on industrial actions, restructuring programs, exits from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, and employment tribunal claims. The team is co-led by Diane Gilhooley, who has vast experience handling high-profile education governance and employment matters, and Ben Wood, who regularly handles academy conversions and is also a key contact for contentious student and staff matters. Further key contacts in the team include Nicola Bennison, who has advised on complex safeguarding and admissions issues, and real estate expert Charlotte Tanikal.

Practice head(s):

Diane Gilhooley; Ben Wood

Other key lawyers:

Nicola Bennison; Charlotte Tanikal; Thomas Pollitt


‘The flexibility and pragmatic approach stands out.’

‘Ben Woods, our contact partner, is always available via email or at the end of the phone, and offers succinct, practical advice. Ben also has a good sense of when to field a query himself and when to refer a matter for specialist consideration or advice.’

‘We receive an excellent service from the team. We have a main contact who may then refer us to another team member for specialist advice, depending on the topic.’

‘Ben Wood has a down to earth style with pragmatic approach to advice.’

‘The team at Eversheds are knowledgeable, professional, and pragmatic in the advice they give.’

‘Ben Wood is our contact, and without fail, we have received a timely and well-informed advice. Ben communicates in a way which is easy to understand and gives professional and practical advice. For us, one of the most valuable aspects is the sector-specific knowledge that Ben holds.’

‘Eversheds Sutherland have experienced and knowledgeable partners.’

‘The information that they provide is clear and concise, the communication is faultless.’

Key clients

ASC International Schools

Batley Multi Academy Trust

Beacon Multi Academy Trust

Beyond Schools Trust

Chelsea Academy

Compass Learning Partnership

Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust

Frontier Learning Trust

Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation Trust

Jewish Community Academy Trust

LEAD Academy Trust

Nova Education Trust

The Harmony Trust

Trinitas Academy Trust

Twyford Church of England Academies Trust

Windsor Learning Partnership

Work highlights

  • Advised a higher education provider on the establishment of a new Maths School (i.e. a 16-19 academy) where the client acted as sponsor.

Moore Barlow

Moore Barlow is noted for its ability to handle high-value strategic work, with its Guildford-based team offering independent schools and sector associations ‘outstanding and very perceptive advice in connection with school acquisitions and mergers, charity matters, strategic policy and statute reviews, and estate acquisitions and disposals. Under the leadership of Joanna Lada-Walicki, who advises on employment, pensions, and pastoral issues, the practice is also capable of handling a wide range of contentious and non-contentious mandates related to reputationally sensitive terminations of employment, safeguarding issues, and discrimination claims. Ben Collingwood is a further key contact in this space and has advised on complex matters related to students with special educational needs, while Adam McRae-Taylor is noted for providing advice to schools seeking to exit the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. For charity and strategic matters, Gordon Reid is highly recommended.

Practice head(s):

Joanna Lada-Walicki

Other key lawyers:

Ben Collingwood; Adam McRae-Taylor; Gordon Reid; Olivia Stanton


‘Customer care is exceptional. The timely response and the knowledge that you are receiving the best available advice is why I would always pick up the phone and call Ben Collingwood if I need legal advice.’

‘Ben Collingwood simplifies complex issues with consummate ease. He is supportive and quite brilliant in his ability to communicate effectively, with the advice I need. Nothing is ever too much and Ben will always make himself available quickly when the need arises. His advice is specific and totally reliable.’

‘Their knowledge of independent sector education matters is first-rate.’

‘The practice provides a wide range of advice covering simple debt recovery actions to complex educational, charitable and employment matters.’

‘All the individuals we have dealt with at the firm are confident experts within their prescribed fields, and they willingly refer you to the individual best able to deal with your issue. Joanna Lada-Walicki has been the senior partner lead on most of our educational issues and both Ben Collingwood and Adam McRae-Taylor have ably assisted.’

‘Moore Barlow has provided outstanding and very perceptive advice. This advice has always been well-thought-out and considered in a timely fashion. They are an extremely reliable source of valuable legal information, across the various different departments.’

‘Joanna Lada-Walicki offers wisdom and attention to detail. Her advice is always very thorough, perceptive and reliable. She listens and analyses the history before carefully considering the different options and their potential outcomes. These are well-explained to the client and help is provided to enable the best path to be followed.’

‘I’ve worked closely with Olivia Stanton, Joanna Lada-Walicki, Adam McRae-Taylor and Ben Collingwood. All four of them have been very quick with turn-around, friendly and approachable, hard-working, and have given excellent counsel.’

Key clients

All Hallows School

Alton School

Badminton School

Ballard School

Bede’s School

Brambletye School


Effingham Schools Trust

Forest School

Girls’ Day School Trust

Hurstpierpoint School

King Edward’s School

King’s House School

Leighton Park School

Manor House School

Our Lady of Sion School

Royal Russell School

Seaford College

St Albans High School for Girls

The Study Preparatory School

Work highlights

  • Advised Royal Russell School on the acquisition of St David’s School.

Winckworth Sherwood LLP

In addition to its well-established reputation for advising faith schools, Winckworth Sherwood LLP is capable of assisting with religious and non-religious MAT establishments, site acquisitions and disposals, employment litigations and tribunal claims, and issues surrounding parental complaints, particularly in relation to sensitive teaching materials. The practice is led by Andrea Squires, who has advised on academy conversions and is also regarded as a key contact for advice on religious matters in schools. Squires often works alongside Aida Smajlovic, who is regarded as ‘the shining example of an employment lawyer in the education sector‘, in advising on industrial action, reputationally sensitive staff issues, and payment disputes. Theresa Kerr is a key contact for advising on parent issues, especially in relation to religious freedoms as well as safeguarding and exclusion matters,

Practice head(s):

Andrea Squires

Other key lawyers:

Theresa Kerr; Aida Smaljovic; Anna Shadbolt


‘Aida Smajlovic specialises in respondent employment work for schools and other educational institutions. The team are the go-to experts for any client within the education sector looking for legal advice.’

‘Aida Smajlovic is the shining example of an employment lawyer in the education sector. There is nothing she doesn’t know in terms of employment law, and she is also tactically very good. She is excellent. Harry Brown is also a rising star. Both are a safe pair of hands.’

‘Andrea Squires is excellent. Calm, thorough, knowledgeable, approachable’

‘Aida Smajlovic is always responsive, personable, highly knowledgeable, and direct with her advice, which is incredibly helpful.’

‘The team are excellent. As field-leading lawyers with the full range of skills, they can quickly grasp any problem as well as help an organisation to plan for the future. I’ve never come across such an excellent legal team in this sector. The aspect I value most is that the team are always available and conscious of speed.’

‘Andrea Squires is outstanding on every level. She’s fast, rigorous, thoughtful, and evaluative when negotiating on my behalf. She’s everything and more that could be wished for in a lawyer.’

‘Theresa Kerr is very good. Very experienced, good judgment, and good systems in place for urgent cases.’

‘Winckworth Sherwood are particularly strong in the crossover between employment and education law. They also have a number of solicitors with experience of acting for parents which they are able to bring to bear when advising schools in litigation.’

Key clients

All Saints Catholic School

Caterham School

Department for Education

Department for Education

Diocese of Hallam

Dudley College

East Barnet School

Future Academies

Governing Body of St Paul’s CofE VA Primary and Nursery School

Kent County Council


London Borough of Brent

London Borough of Enfield

London Borough of Hillingdon

London Borough of Southwark

Multi Academy Trust

Newham Community Learning

St Francis and St Clare CMATs

St Joseph’s Catholic Academy Trust

Tenterden Schools Trust

Text Help Limited

The Church of England Education Office

The Disabilities Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised the Archdiocese of Liverpool and St Joseph Catholic MAT, a “turnaround” MAT, on its establishment and on the first waves of schools joining the MAT.
  • Advised the Church of England on a range of legal matters, including site ownership, capital programmes, funding questions, legislation, HR and employment.
  • Advised the Department for Education on matters related to PFI and schools with a religious character, including on the complexities involved for schools with site trustees on the development of new model documents and guidance for schools, diocesan authorities and local authorities.

BDB Pitmans

BDB Pitmans' education practice is well-versed in charity and governance matters and maintains a client roster that includes a number of independent school as well as organisations such as the Independent Schools Inspectorate. The team is regularly instructed to provide advice on regulatory compliance matters and also advises on governance and regulation statutes. The team is led by Penny Chapman, who is regarded as a key contact for governance advice and also regularly assists schools with the establishment of educational charities. Nicholas Le Riche extends the team's offering into employment advice and is capable of handling both contentious and non-contentious staffing and disciplinary matters. Real estate lawyer Jonathan Fewster is also recommended for his ability to handle school site acquisitions and disposals.

Practice head(s):

Penny Chapman

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Fewster; Nicholas Le Riche; Alice Unwin; Kate Parkinson

Key clients

Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools

Beechwood Park School

Bolton School

Independent Schools Bursars Association

Independent Schools Inspectorate

King Alfred School

Mill Hill School Foundation

Moulsford Preparatory School

The Mount School York

Westminster School

Work highlights

  • Advised the Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools (AGBIS) on updating its Template Governance Manual for its member schools.
  • Advised Mill Hill School on the establishment of a separate charitable subsidiary as a bursary fund.
  • Advised Westminster School in relation to subsidiary trading arrangements.

Doyle Clayton

Doyle Clayton excels at handling contentious education work and trusted by independent schools and multi academy trusts across the country to advise on employment and student issues of a reputationally sensitive nature. The team is well-regarded for its expertise in safeguarding and discrimination matters and has represented schools in a number of claims and judicial reviews, and it is also trusted to act on matters related to pensions, industrial relations, and disciplinary procedures. Practice head Simon Henthorn is a 'knowledgeable, calm, and efficient'employment and safeguarding expert who also provides schools with non-contentious governance advice. Amara Ahmad, who specialises in matters related to students with special educational needs, and employment expert Liz Timmins are further names to note.

Practice head(s):

Simon Henthorn

Other key lawyers:

Peter Daly; Liz Timmins; Amara Ahmad


A highly competent and personable team of experts who have given our school timely, detailed and helpful advice.’

‘The team have made an effort to get to know our school and our team very well’

‘I find Doyle Clayton to be extremely responsive and Simon Henthorn in particular to be knowledgeable, calm, efficient and overall simply excellent to work with.’

‘Simon Henthorn is excellent at putting things in perspective and giving calm, measured advice when I may be feeling the pressure.’

Work highlights

Lee Bolton Monier-Williams

Lee Bolton Monier-Williams is well-known for its ability to advise numerous schools and Diocesan Boards of Education on all educational undertakings. The practice places particular emphasis on school property transactions, having advised on complex site transfers, and is also regularly instructed to advise on a range of charity law issues, especially in connection with the establishment of new educational charities. Practice head Howard Dellar acts for numerous charities and multi-academy trusts and has a strong record of advising on academy conversions, and Ian Blaney is a key contact for Church of England school site acquisitions and land swaps. Khalid Sofi widens the team’s expertise through his ability to advise Muslim charities and schools on governance and strategic issues.

Practice head(s):

Howard Dellar

Other key lawyers:

Ian Blaney; Khalid Sofi; Susan Newell; Jane Grenfell; David Whittington


‘All team members at LBMW are extremely efficient, professional and knowledgeable. Advice is always effective and received in a timely manner.’

‘Ian Blaney’s work on academy conversions is exceptional.’

‘An exceptionally professional and personal service. The Team at LBMW take time to understand the client’s needs and have subject-matter experts to suit the different cases. The personal service is extremely valued: Many of the cases are extremely complex, and the Team at LBMW have the skill to translate the issues into jargon-free terminology.’

‘Experts in their field. The advice and guidance from all members of the team is crystal clear, with a specific mention to David Whittington and Jane Grenfell. They have provided outstanding guidance and advice.’

‘Working with LBMW feels like working with trusted colleagues, rather than an external team. LBMW’s skill range is broad and specialist, offering a great, all-in-one service.’

‘David Whittington is incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic and a pleasure to work with. Ian Blaney is similarly knowledgeable and incredibly able. Jane Grenfell brings a wealth of charities experience, which has proven invaluable.’

‘Susan Newell is really great. She offers a personal service and is capable of offering various actions which could be taken, so you feel well-informed. She is also willing to give firm opinions based on law and previous experience, making you feel confident in the choices you take.’

Key clients

Canterbury Diocesan Board of Education

Chichester Diocesan Board of Education

John Whitgift Foundation

Lincoln Anglican Academy Trust

Lincoln Diocesan Board of Education

Oxford Diocesan Board of Education

Salisbury Diocesan Board of education

St Edmundsbury & Ipswich Diocesan Board of Education

Whitgift Foundation

Work highlights

  • Advised Canterbury Diocesan Board of Education on a possible reversion of a school site.
  • Advised Southgate Mosque and Community Centre, a new charity which had acquired a £6.6 m listed property in London to be converted into a community centre and place of worship, on the proposed structure for the charity, preparing the governing document and registering with Charity Commission.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP‘s education team stands out for its ability to advise large independent schools and multi-academy trusts on debt finance transactions, having assisted a number of schools and educational foundations on high-value private placements, and is also well-regarded for its advice on charity law matters as well as employment and safeguarding issues. Charity expert Neil Burton jointly leads the national education practice with Gary Attle and Martin Priestley. For financial matters, Sarah Seed is a key contact, while Richard Sykes is well-regarded for his understanding of sensitive student matters.

Practice head(s):

Gary Attle; Martin Priestley; Neil Burton

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Seed; Richard Sykes; Alex Russell


‘Great and always reliable team with broad legal expertise.’

‘Alex Russell understands us. Excellent, reliable employment advice, offering flexibility whenever he is able to do so.’

Key clients

Academies Enterprise Trust

Christ’s Hospital

Dragon School

Harrow School

John Whitgift Foundation

North London Collegiate

Norwich School

St Dunstan’s School

United Westminster and Grey Coat Foundation

Wellington College

Work highlights

  • Advised Dragon School on its first ever private placement of debt securities and the refinancing of its existing bank facilities.
  • Advised John Whitgift Foundation on its first ever private placement of debt securities, and the structuring of the debt facilities.
  • Advised St Dunstan’s College, an independent school located in south London, on a range of charity & wider matters.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP‘s team of independent school specialists is well-regarded for its advice on employment, safeguarding, and governance issues, with a notable record of advising on employee compensation and pension matters as well as sensitive student and staff disciplinary issues. Practice head Gemma Woodhouse, who practices from Reading, is particularly noted for her understanding of matters related to students with special educational needs and is also a key contact for discrimination and employment issues. Katie Glendinning is also based in Reading and is recommended for her employment expertise, while London-based lawyer Hazar El-Chamaa provides schools with critical regulatory compliance advice, especially on immigration matters.

Practice head(s):

Gemma Woodhouse

Other key lawyers:

Katie Glendinning; Hazar El-Chamaa


‘The education team is of genuine exceptional quality.’

‘Gemma Woodhouse is a class act. Excellent knowledge of the law, great with clients, and a wonderful crossover understanding of education/employment/safeguarding. Would unreservedly recommend.’

‘Unique ability to cover both education and employment law, so a stand-out firm for school clients. Really strong team.’

‘Katie Glendinning is our primary point of contact with Penningtons, and she is exceptional. Katie is timely with her responses, which are always thorough and detailed, providing specific support and guidance. Katie’s ability to provide quick support as well as work through complex matters is impressive. At the heart of Katie’s high quality is her willingness to understand us and the core values we operate within. Katie is able to then ground her advice both in terms of the legal framework we operate in, but also within the values we hold important to us. Alongside this, she has a highly personal approach that makes you feel very valued as a client.’

‘Penningtons have been superb legal partners for us. The breadth and depth of their expertise is extensive, and we have had numerous positive reports from our members. Not only do they give excellent advice, they also take the time to understand our members and fully appreciate their needs.’

‘Good and through understanding of independent schools, leading to clear, practical advice.’

‘Gemma Woodhouse is a creative thinker and gives good, pragmatic advice. I value Gemma’s honesty, clear guidance, and being able to engage with different people in my organisation.’

‘Gemma Woodhouse was outstanding, very responsive in a difficult situation, and technically very strong.’

Key clients

Arnold Lodge School

Association for the Education and Guardianship of International students

Beaconsfield Educational Trust (Davenies)

Bedford Greenacre Independent School

Brampton College

Cambridge Tutors College

Caversham Preparatory School

Cognita Schools

Crosfields School

Falkner House Preparatory School

Haberdashers’ Aske’s Elstree Schools Limited

Hampstead Hill School

Independent Schools Association

King’s House School

Mander Portman Woodward

Notre Dame Prep School

Prior’s Field School

Reed’s School

Scarisbrick Hall

School’s Enterprise Association

Shrewsbury House School Trust

St John’s College School

St John’s Preparatory School

Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship

The Licensed Trade Charity

The Oratory Schools Association

The Stephen Perse Foundation

Wellington College

Work highlights

  • Acted for The Oratory Schools Association on the disposal of a significant development site to a UK housebuilder.
  • Advised a leading Charity with three Independent Schools on the review of its employment contracts and on the application of legislation to the calculation of holiday.
  • Advised Haberdashers’ Aske’s Schools on complicated disciplinary and grievance issues, with potential safeguarding consequences.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

The education team at Trowers & Hamlins LLP excels at handling governance and real estate work for its client base, which encompasses private schools, academies, charities, and local education authorities. The practice is particularly well-regarded for providing project and real estate advice to the Department for Education on the development of new schools across the country, and it also regularly assists with PFI projects and school constructions in the UK and abroad. Experienced commercial lawyer Amardeep Gill, who is based in Birmingham, co-leads the practice with London-based projects and procurement expert Assad Maqbool. The duo have also led the practice toward an increasingly diverse workload involving school mergers and sales, academy conversions, and corporate contract matters. The team is further bolstered by the expertise of Patrick Morris, a key contact for his advice on educational developments.

Practice head(s):

Assad Maqbool; Amardeep Gill

Other key lawyers:

Patrick Morris

Key clients

Caterham School

Department for Education

Dudley College

Kent County Council


London Borough of Brent

London Borough of Enfield

London Borough of Hillingdon

London Borough of Southwark

Text Help Limited

The Disabilities Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised the London Borough of Brent on the conversion of the JFS school to a new academy by reviewing and proposing amendments to the PFI Agreements and other original project documents and by drafting ‘public sector’ interface agreements to enable a new corporate body to replace the existing governing body.
  • Advised Caterham School on a number of different matters, including in relation to the establishment of trading subsidiaries and in relation to a merger with a smaller charity.
  • Acted for the DfE, particularly the department responsible for the development across the country of new build free schools as well as the Priority School Building Project, on the drafting and negotiation of building contracts as well as numerous acquisitions and leases.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP‘s focuses on advising on multi academy trusts as well as organisations such as the Department of Education on the delivery of major school projects and is well-regarded for its ability to handle the property elements of academy conversions, restructuring projects, free school establishments, and PFI contracts. In addition to its wide-reaching project expertise, the team is also capable of advising on governance statutes and contracting matters as well as contentious student and parent issues. The national practice is co-led from Newcastle by Kevin Robertson, who advises on academy conversions and school transfers, and school governance expert Emma Moody. Leeds-based lawyer Nicholas Moss is also recommended for his expertise advising on major trust expansions and academisation projects.

Practice head(s):

Kevin Robertson; Emma Moody

Other key lawyers:

Nicholas Moss; Peter Cantwell


‘The Team is professional, energetic, and inspires confidence in all services it provides.’

‘Kevin Robertson and the entire team inspire confidence and are always responsive to need regardless of time or day. I cannot speak highly enough of their work. They have guided us through some very difficult situations and complex issues.’

‘Excellent knowledge and experience across the sector and particularly on complex matters. Take the time to get to know the team, and this really shows. Extremely professional service.’

Key clients

Bishop Bewick Catholic Academy Trust

Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust

Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust

Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust

Bradford Girls Grammar School

Department for Education

Eden Learning Trust

Education & Skills Funding Agency

Holley Park Academy

Horizons Specialist Academy Trust


Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School

Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust

Pocklington School

Sewell Education York Limited

Skills for Life Trust, Kent

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

The Constellation Trust

Vision Academy Learning Trust

Waterton Academy Trust, Wakefield

Work highlights

  • Advised the Department for Education and LocatED on the Free School programme and the ongoing refurbishment of the entire UK school and further education estate via the Schools Replacement Programme.
  • Advised multiple academy trusts (including Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust and Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust) on academy conversions across England.
  • Advised St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Academy Trust on the transfer of 17 academies across York, North Yorkshire and the East Riding as part of the Diocese of Middlesbrough’s schools restructure.

Bevan Brittan LLP

'An exceptional firm with unique expertise', Bevan Brittan LLP is turned to by both local authorities and national government bodies for its capabilities in schools building projects. Practice head Andrew Tobin, Birmingham-based academy conversion specialist Kirtpal Kaur-Aujla, and the 'exceptional' Bristol-based project finance expert Rosemary Jago are the key names to note.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Tobin

Other key lawyers:

Kirtpal Kaur-Aujla; Rosemary Jago


Bevan Brittan is an exceptional firm with unique expertise. The key attribute is the ability to understand the level of capability and capacity of the client and respond with the appropriate level of support and advice. The understanding of the sector is second to none and that is crucial to ensure agile and appropriate support.

Rosie Jago is an exceptional lawyer.’

Key clients

Department for Education

Flintshire County Council

London Borough of Hackney

Rhondda Cynon Taff Council

Welsh Assembly Government

Work highlights

Blake Morgan LLP

Blake Morgan LLP‘s solid education offering targets both state and private schools as well as sector organisations and spans a range of charity, employment, and governance matters. The practice handles disciplinary investigations as well as serious safeguarding issues and is also active across staff structuring and pension matters, and it is also capable of handling school transfers as well as charity incorporations. Matthew Smith, who has acted in numerous employment tribunal cases, leads the team and often works with Southampton-based employment expert Vicky Schollar on matters with sensitive safeguarding aspects. Cardiff lawyer Trish D'Souza, who joined the team from Capital Law Limited in October 2022, is noted for her governance expertise.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Smith

Other key lawyers:

Vicky Schollar; Trish D’Souza

Key clients

Brighton & Hove City Council

Education Workforce Council

Hamwic Education Trust

Heart of Mercia

Hereford Sixth Form College

King Edward VI School

Portsmouth Grammar School

Solent Academies Trust

St Swithun’s School, Winchester

Teaching Regulation Agency

The Gallery Trust

The Portsmouth Grammar School

University of Chichester Multi-Academy Trust

Winchester Diocesan Board of Finance

Work highlights

  • Advised Launchpad Social Enterprise on general governance matters and provided guidance on the composition of the board of trustees, amending the charity’s Articles of Association, and ad hoc issues.
  • Advised the Education Workforce Council on the drafting and revision of rules and procedures governing their work, including those relating to disciplinary functions and those relating to the assessment of suitability for registration.
  • Advised the Teacher Regulation Authority on disciplinary proceedings against teachers as well as on revisions to rules and procedures.

Sharpe Pritchard LLP

Sharpe Pritchard LLP‘s team regularly advises local councils on PFI academy conversion projects and is also trusted to handle major school construction projects. The team acts for a number of schools and London boroughs across the full academisation process and frequently handles contentious employment and contract issues that occur in the process. The practice is led by procurement and PFI specialist Tim Farr, who regularly works alongside key contact Catherine Newman to advise local government bodies on procurement initiatives for new schools. Employment expert Julie Bann is noted for her ability to advise on the charity and employment aspects of academy conversion projects.

Practice head(s):

Tim Farr

Other key lawyers:

Catherine Newman; Julie Bann; Justin Mendelle


‘The main reason I keep coming back to Sharpe Pritchard is the personal service that they provide. They understand our culture and approach to creating and delivering contracts.’

‘Justin Mendelle has a unique ability to explain legal terminology and interpretations. His experience and knowledge is the best.’

Key clients

East Sussex County Council

Hammersmith and Fulham Council

Imperial College

John Whitgift Foundation

London Borough of Redbridge

Wakefield Council

Work highlights

  • Advised East Sussex County Council on two PFI conversions relating to complex, multi-school PFI arrangements dating back 20 years.
  • Advised Wakefield Council on the procurement of public health services such as health visiting, early years assistance and school health support, including services delivered in schools.
  • Advised the John Whitgift Foundation on a significant programme of works being carried out at one of its schools, split across three main projects involving the car park, estates department and sixth form centre.

Withers LLP

Withers LLP maintains an in-depth charity law and crisis management offering, which it frequently leverages to advise educational trusts, charities, and foundations on a range of strategic and governance matters. The team is also capable of advising on contentious employment and student issues and regularly acts in school disciplinary proceedings and investigations. Practice head Philip Reed and key contact Chris Priestley both maintain close relationships with a number of independent schools and academy trusts, who instruct the team to advise on governance and fundraising statutes. Emma Flower is also recommended and frequently acts in matters related to student admissions and exclusions.

Practice head(s):

Philip Reed

Other key lawyers:

Chris Priestley; Emma Flower

Key clients

Girls’ Day School Trust