Education in South East

Blake Morgan LLP

Blake Morgan LLP has a notable presence in the further and higher education sectors. It also acts for independent and faith schools and multi-academy trusts. The firm's education offering is multi-disciplinary, providing expertise from all areas of the firm's wider practice. Operating out of the firm's Southampton office, Sarah Peacock is a key contact for employment matters, while Oxford-based John Deech is the name to note for property work. Employment-focused associate Vicky Schollar is considered one to watch for the future. Sheilah Mackie departed the firm in 2018. The national practice head, Matthew Smith is based in Cardiff.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Smith


The firm has an excellent understanding of the education market.

In the context of education work, they are especially well placed in handling Equality Act 2010 claims.’

I would thoroughly endorse them in this area.

Vicky Schollar has an excellent understanding of equality law and in all the cases we have worked together on I have been very impressed by her.


Key clients

New College, Oxford

Balliol College, Oxford

Oxford Foundation for Theoretical Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence

Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association

University of Portsmouth

Portsmouth Grammar School

Portsmouth Diocesan Trust

University of Reading

The Gregg School

Christ Church College, Oxford

Magdalen College, Oxford

Brasenose College, Oxford

University College, Oxford

University of Winchester

University of Chichester

Magdalen College School

King Edward VI School

St Swithun’s School, Winchester

Capital City Academy Trust

Bourne Academy


University of Chichester Multi-Academy Trust

St Marylebone Church of England Academy

Portsmouth Catholic Diocesan Trust

Stockley Academy

The Cherwell Academy

Winchester Diocesan Board of Finance

Solent Academies Trust

Hereford Sixth Form College

Work highlights

  • Advising New College, Oxford, on the appointment of its design team and construction contracts in relation to its proposed redevelopment of a new Quadrangle within the College estate.
  • Advising on a number of sensitive HR matters for Worcester College.
  • Providing a full legal service to Hamwic Education Trust.
  • Acted for the Gregg School in defending First Tier Tribunal proceedings involving complex and sensitive issues surrounding disability.
  • Advising the University of Reading on unfair dismissal and sex discrimination claims which have been on going for several years and involving a variety of courts at a high level.

Clarkslegal LLP

Clarkslegal LLP has an established track record assisting clients in the higher education sector whilst also providing services to schools and local authorities. The firm works across a wide range of areas, but is particularly notable for its construction advice on major higher education projects, as well as its procurement expertise, especially in the student accommodation sector. David Rintoul heads the practice and specialises in construction work.

Practice head(s):

David Rintoul

Key clients

University of Reading

Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council

Carillion Academies Trust

Dulwich College

Work highlights

  • Advising numerous university lecturers and researchers on rights of citizenship post-Brexit.
  • Provided advice to a Tier 4 visa student on immigration issues.
  • Provide ongoing support to the University of Reading’s Estates and Facilities department regarding a range of capital projects.
  • Provide advice to a Tier 4 visa student on immigration issues.
  • Advising Dulwich College on multiple construction projects, including related procurement and contracting issues.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

At Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP, the education team is particularly notable for its work with higher education clients, with a strong focus on governance and compliance issues. The multi-disciplinary team also advises education clients on employment, real estate, and commercial issues, as well as providing training and data protection advice. Practice head Daff Richardson specialises in education disputes and governance issues. Alison Talbot departed the firm for Winckworth Sherwood LLP in December 2018.

Practice head(s):

Daff Richardson


The team have very strong expertise in both education and employment law, which makes them ideally placed to assist on crossover topics.

The level of service and the responsiveness is excellent, especially if a partner is aware that something needs urgent attention.

Daff Richardson is committed, client-focused, knows the context within which we’re working, and is a pleasure to work.

The advice provided is pragmatic as well as being accurate.’


Key clients

Merton College, Oxford

City and Guilds of London Institute

Oxford Brookes University

Oxford University Press

St Peter’s College

Somerville College

University of Surrey

Stanford University


Work highlights

  • Advising a higher education institution in relation to an employment matter involving the termination of employment of a member of its academic staff.
  • Advised a higher education institution on its obligations towards a visiting scholar, who sought specific working arrangements on account of disabilities.
  • Advised City & Guilds of London Institute on a significant restructure of part of its business including providing training for managers.
  • Advised a client on two subject access requests made on behalf of an unsuccessful candidate for admission.

Blandy & Blandy LLP

Blandy & Blandy LLP is one of the key firms providing education law services in the Thames Valley area. With a strong independent schools practice, the firm acts for clients on education-specific governance issues as well as property and planning, disputes, and employment matters. The firm also undertakes substantial work for education-focused charities. Nick Burrows heads the team and has significant experience in commercial contract matters.

Practice head(s):

Nick Burrows


They are very knowledgeable,have a wealth of experience and most importantly are pragmatic and flexible in their approach when issues arise.’

‘Simon Dimmick, Victoria Charlesson, Kayleigh Chapman and Karen Jones are all helpful, reasonable and pragmatic in their approach.’

Very efficient team who rarely require chasing; their experience means I can leave clients in their capable hands and know the work will be actioned.’

Key clients

University of Reading

St Joseph’s College

The Abbey School



Pangbourne College

Career Connect

Padworth Education Trust Limited


Brachers acts for a wide range of schools and further education colleges, including specialist institutions such as SEN schools. The team includes lawyers from several departments across the firm, particularly the employment, corporate and commercial and commercial property groups. Bill Butler heads the team and is a key contact for real estate matters, including the real estate aspects of academy conversions. Head of employment Catherine Daw is also a key figure in the multidisciplinary practice.

Practice head(s):

Bill Butler

Other key lawyers:

 Catherine Daw

Key clients

Bromley College

Orpington College

London Skills for Growth (SfG)

Canterbury College

Hadlow College

West Kent and Ashford College

Plumpton College

New Horizons Federation (x 3 academies)

Loose Primary School

Coxheath Primary School

Vale View Primary School

Work highlights

  • Advised Hadlow Group on a phased re-organisation of the estate involving disposal of assets to release capital for investment and further acquisition.
  • Advised Canterbury College in its merger with East Kent College, resulting in the creation of the new EKC Group.

Boyes Turner

Advising exclusively on SEN and related matters, Boyes Turner is a key firm in the Thames Valley market for individuals seeking education advice. Practice head Laxmi Patel is highly experienced in SEN tribunal cases, and often works closely with the firm's clinical negligence and Court of Protection teams, as well as maintaining close relationships with various SEN charities. The team has undergone some personnel changes recently, with the departure of Janata Ali to Moore Blatch LLP and the arrival of Rachel Allison and Rachel Baxter  from Weightmans LLP and an independent practice respectively.

Practice head(s):

Laxmi Patel

Other key lawyers:

Rachel Allison; Rachel Allison

Work highlights

  • Successfully appealed to the SEND Tribunal on the parents behalf for a change of school from a maintained mainstream to a mainstream maintained with a special unit.
  • Appeal to SEND Tribunal for placement at a termly residential special independent college.
  • Appeal to the SEND Tribunal to move a child from her current day school, a maintained special school, to an independent residential special school in accordance with her parents’ wishes.
  • Represented parents in a case which involved a Local Authority refusing to agree to name a special school on the child’s Education, Health and Care Plan.
  • Assisted parents by identifying amendments required to their child’s Statement of Special Educational Needs and presented evidence to successfully negotiate with the Local Authority to agree full-time dedicated Teaching Assistant support at school.

Field Seymour Parkes LLP

Field Seymour Parkes LLP provides a full service to education sector clients, combining members of several departments within the firm to assist clients. The firm is particularly notable for its employment offering, as well as its governance, real estate, and construction work. Associate Katie Burley heads the group, and specialises in employment advice and defending clients before tribunals. The practice recently benefited from the addition of real estate expert Richard Higgs and employment specialist Louise Smyth, from Clarkslegal LLP and Freeths LLP respectively.

Practice head(s):

Katie Burley

Other key lawyers:

Richard Higgs; Louise Smyth


A strong practice in terms of range and integration of services – able to deal with issues relating  to charitable and company status, data and IP as well as organisational/HR.


Key clients

Berkshire College of Agriculture

Work highlights

  • Represented Berkshire College of Agriculture in its asset purchase of land based training.
  • Providing advice to a client surrounding the acquisition of Community Interest Company status and assisting with restructuring its constitution and governance.
  • Advising a school on a complex safeguarding issue and subsequent disciplinary procedure of a member of staff.
  • Advising a client on a difficult management restructure.

Moore Barlow

Moore Blatch LLP focuses on individuals dealing with the education sector, acting primarily for parents and guardians. The firm predominantly works on special educational needs issues and frequently represents clients in SEN tribunal proceedings. it also handles exclusion and school choice matters. Former practice head Erin Smart departed the firm for Irwin Mitchell in November 2018, while former team member Janata Ali rejoined to head the team from Boyes Turner.

Practice head(s):

Janata Ali

Baker Small Solicitors

Boutique education firm Baker Small Solicitors acts predominantly for parents of children with SEN issues, but also acts for schools and local authorities, including defending such clients in SEN tribunal proceedings. Managing director Mark Small is a solicitor-advocate and represents both local authorities and parents in tribunal cases. Small also represents clients in Employment cases, judicial review matters, and exclusion issues.

Practice head(s):

Mark Small

Birkett Long LLP

Birkett Long LLP is a prominent name in Essex for education cases. It offers a multidisciplinary team including employment, commercial, and disputes lawyers, as well as education and charity law specialists. The firm is particularly notable for its work on academy conversions, as well as the combination of academies into multi-academy trusts. Thomas Emmett is the key education contact following Stephen Avila's departure to GoodyBurrett LLP.

Practice head(s):

Thomas Emmett

Key clients

St Mary’s School Colchester

Heather Partnership

Writtle University College

University of Essex

Mildmay Junior School

Work highlights

  • Assisted Mildmay Junior School in its transfer to multi-academy trust.
  • Advising a multi-academy trust on various matters, including GDPR, construction, property and company law.
  • Advised Heather Partnership Ltd on the share purchase of an independent school company.


EMW Law LLP acts for schools and local authorities on a wide range of matters and is particularly notable for its work defending local authorities in SEND Tribunal claims by parents. The firm also occasionally represents claimants in SEND matters. On the non-contentious side, the firm provides a wide range of governance and regulatory advice and practice head Jordan Glackin is a key contact on conversions to academies or joining multi- academy trusts.

Practice head(s):

Jordan Glackin

Other key lawyers:

Laura Thompson

Key clients

Bedford Inclusive Learning and training Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised Bedford Inclusive Learning and Training Trust on the amalgamation of two existing academies to form a multi-academy trust. One academy being a special educational needs school and the other being a pupil referral unit.
  • Represented Bedford Inclusive Learning and Training Trust in respect of its acquisition of a special educational needs school so that such school formed part of the multi-academy trust but continued to operate as a separate school.
  • Successfully defended a local authority’s decision not to fund home tuition where the child’s needs could be met in school.
  • Successfully struck out a claim against a school for educational negligence and obtained costs against the claimants.
  • Successfully defending a claim for disability discrimination against a school.

Tees Law

Senior Associate Polly Kerr leads the education group at Tees Law which specialises in SEN matters, representing parents and guardians. It also acts on exclusion matters and defends schools in SEN tribunals and other cases. The firm is particularly notable for its work on education and health care plan reviews, often collaborating closely with educational psychologists and other experts.

Practice head(s):

Polly Kerr


Polly Kerr has built up a successful educational law practice in recent years, and understands the market very well.

Polly has excellent judgement, is committed to this area of practice, and always goes the extra mile for the client.

Kerr has been responsible for the development of education law at Tees and I would have no hesitation in recommending her attributes as an education lawyer.

Work highlights

  • Assisting parents in bringing a successful disability discrimination claim on behalf of a 15-year-old who had been excluded from an independent school.
  • Assisting parents in appealing the content of a plan under Section I (Setting) and Section F (Provision).
  • A review of an EHCP for a child who had just entered his third year of reception in a mainstream school.
  • Assisting parents in bringing a successful disability discrimination claim on behalf of a 15-year-old who had been excluded from an independent school.
  • Assisting a school who had been named in a plan for a student with high-level needs.


VWV's education team is particularly strong in employment matters, as well as providing commercial, corporate, and property advice. The firm acts for a wide range of further and higher education institutions, alongside its substantial independent schools and academies practices, which provide a full service to clients operating in those sectors. Bettina Rigg and Yvonne Spencer head the national practice, while Bob Fahy is a key figure in the Watford office.

Practice head(s):

Bettina Rigg; Yvonne Spencer

Other key lawyers:

Bob Fahy

Key clients

Bournemouth University

Brunel University London

East Sussex College Group

London Metropolitan University

Middlesex University

Oxford Brookes University

University of Exeter

University of Greenwich

University of Reading



London Diocesan Board of Schools (Grow Education)

Buckinghamshire Grammar Schools Limited

Red Kite Schools Trust

Orchard Hill College Academy Trust

Creative Education Trust

The Pathway Academy Trust

The Spring Partnership Trust

Langley Park Learning Trust

Aylesbury Grammar School

Royal Latin School

The Royal Grammar School

The Mellor Education Trust

The Marlow Education Trust

Eton College

Harrow School

North London Collegiate School

St Alban’s School

Ibstock Place School

Roedean School

Work highlights

  • Provided cover to the University of Southampton while its employment lawyer was on maternity leave.
  • Advised the College of Dentistry Ltd on the acquisition of BPP University Dental Institute from BPP University Limited.
  • Advising Brunel University London on a wide variety of employment issues.