Education in South West

Browne Jacobson LLP

Browne Jacobson LLP is noted for having a 'very clear service ethos and going the extra mile to ensure complete satisfaction'. Through cross-practice collaboration, the team is able to cover various legal, regulatory and commercial matters for its clients. Those are often primary and secondary schools as well as trusts and universities. Practice head and 'consummate professionalJulia Green specialises in academy conversions. Bettina Rigg, who joined from VWV in April 2020, focuses on the higher education area. Senior associate Victoria Hatton is well versed in corporate and governance matters.

Practice head(s):

Julia Green

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Hatton; Bettina Rigg; Daniella Glynn

Testimonials

‘Responsive and high level of understanding of education sector ’

‘Work closely with our team and become part of our extended team. Maintain high level of sector knowledge. Provision of CPD and events by experts.’

‘The team are professional and are always willing to go the extra mile to offer support and guidance. We have developed strong and effective working relationships.’

‘Individuals show a genuine commitment. They are knowledgeable and reliable.’

‘Personal response from partner to queries. Good value of QuickCall service (retainer). High quality and reputation in the education sector.’

‘Julia Green and Victoria Hatton are knowledgeable and clearly believe in the partnership between the firm and the client.’

‘Browne Jacobson has a very clear service ethos and goes the extra mile to ensure complete satisfaction. Partners and associates are knowledgable, professional and caring. The breadth of experience across the team means that no query goes unanswered. Notwithstanding much home-working this last year, business has carried on ‘as normal’. ’

‘Our principal contact has been Julia Greene who is a consummate professional. She and her team have helped where other LLPs in the past have failed. Most impressive has been Julia’s ability to put us into contact with specialists across the Browne Jacobson group. This has been not only useful but a salvation on several occasions!’

Key clients

An Daras Multi Academy Trust

Ansford Academy Trust

Barnsole Primary Trust – prior to merger with Maritime Academy Trust

Bath & North East Somerset Council

Bournemouth Poole & Christchurch Council

Brunel University

Central RSA Academies Trust

Coast Academies Trust

Cornwall Education Learning Trust

Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust

Diocese of Bristol Academy Trust

Diocese of Salisbury Multi Academy Trust

Durrington Multi Academy Trust

Exmouth Academy Trust

Exmouth Community College

Falmouth Multi Academy Trust

Finham Park Multi Academy Trust

GLF Schools

Greengate Academy Trust

Hayes School

Heathercombe Brake Trust

Heathfield School

Horrington Primary School

Iron Mill College

Kernow Learning

Kings Langley School

Leading Edge Academies Partnership

Lighthouse Schools Partnership

Linwood School

Lion Academy Trust

Lion Education Trust

North Somerset Council

Osprey Learning Trust

Preston Primary Academy Trust

Quantock Multi Academy Trust

Raedwald Trus

Work highlights

  • Delivered 15 complimentary webinars on a range of topics, designed to help institutions address the challenging issues they faced.
  • Advised over 70 clients on a significantly wide range of matters of  pastoral care such as issues from parental concerns and wishes of a Year 6 transgender child; school meal queries; safeguarding concerns and duties of care; Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) queries; the adjustments required for a deaf child; to disclosing information with regards to an illegal immigrant.
  • Advising on future governance and corporate change for significant entities across different sectors both contentious and non-contentious.

Stone King LLP

Stone King LLP‘s team is regularly instructed by state funded and independent schools as well as higher education institutions and Church of England schools. It covers the full gamut of employment, property, commercial, corporate and education matters. The group also guides its clients in their Covid-19 responses with webinars and a dedicated website. The team is jointly led by independent school expert Helen Tucker in Bath, Cambridge-based Roger Inman and HE expert  Tom Morrison in Leeds. Ciara Campfield handles procurement matters, while Michael Brotherton is well versed in disputes.

Practice head(s):

Helen Tucker

Other key lawyers:

Roger Inman; Tom Morrison; Ciara Campfield; Michael Brotherton; Lucy Blackwell

Testimonials

‘The team at Stone King are always quick to respond to my queries and are sympathetic to the tight timeframes that sometimes exist. They understand the education sector extremely well and provide support on a wide range of issues.’

‘My work is mostly through Michael Brotherton who I always find to be approachable and attentive. He takes the time to get to know his clients, and their schools or trusts, and is able to frame his advice in the context of that knowledge. His advice is always extremely helpful and he has supported the trust on wide ranging themes including admissions, exclusions, complaints and trust legal documents.’

‘Stone King are experts in Education Law and legal matters that impact schools. The education sector has seen enormous challenges in the last few years and Stone King provide invaluable, up to date, specific advice and guidance to help schools navigate their way through. Their approach helps to give school leaders options, solutions and confidence in how to proceed.’

‘I have worked with Helen Tucker and Lucy Blackwell. Both are superb in terms of their client facing approach. They are available, flexible and very understanding of the specific challenges that we face in the education sector. They have a solutions-based approach with a great balance between seeing and explaining the big picture and then rolling up their sleeves to provide tangible, practical advice and documentation. This helps School Heads to move forwards both informed and with confidence.’

Key clients

The Partnership Trust

Wellsway Multi Academy Trust

Oldfield School

Palladian Academy Trust

Cotswold Beacon Academy Trust

Hayesfield School

The Futures Trust

St Gregory’s Catholic College

St Brendan’s Sixth Form College

Greenwood Tree Academy Trust

Clevedon Learning Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised Cotswold Beacon Academy Trust on a range of issues this year but in particular on a complex objection to the admission arrangements of its flagship grammar school.
  • Advised King Edward VI Academy Trust on a range of Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) in the 2020 summer examination process dispute but in particular shutting down a threatened Judicial Review application against the Trust based on discrimination over CAGs.
  • Defended Christ the King College against a claim for circa £8m.

VWV

VWV fields a sizeable team of dedicated experts, who are 'able to respond at speed, with accuracy and tackle any question'. It is advising on the full range of  legal matters in connection with the education sector. The group counts a high number of public and private schools, colleges, FE providers and higher education institutions as its clients. With practice heads Barney NorthoverChloe BruntonEmma-Jane Dalley and Jane Byford, there are specialised key contact for the respective clients. Simon Bevan is an expert in education employment matters. Tabitha Cave is 'utterly committed and hardworking with an excellent knowledge base'.

Practice head(s):

Jane Byford; Emma-Jane Dalley; Barney Northover; Chloe Brunton

Other key lawyers:

Simin Bevan; Tabitha Cave; Con Alexander; Naseem Nabi

Testimonials

‘This is a strong multi-disciplinary team who work together to provide support and expertise across a breadth of areas. We never need to look elsewhere. Having a key contract lead who is able to allocate support as needed, as well as being an expert provides continuity and this relationship adds additional value. Reporting has evolved over time to support our needs and creative approaches to delivering the agreed added value (for example bespoke training) means the contract supports us more broadly than just when we have to react to a matter.’

‘The support is excellent with a key contact person who is available immediately and can cascade to the relevant members of the team. VWV has an excellent level of detailed knowledge of the structure and challenges of operating a large boarding school and this expertise allows them to understand the problem quickly and deliver highly effective and valuable advice. Regular meetings with the key contact person means that they stay very up-to-date with what is current and can help support with timely advice.’ 

‘Quick to give advice that is relevant to a school-based setting. Highly knowledgeable about the school and the wider sector. Extremely professional and ready to support at very short notice including beyond normal office hours.

‘Highly knowledgeable about the (independent) school sector and well respected as such.’

‘Tabitha Cave – utterly committed and hardworking with an excellent knowledge base. Very personable.’

‘Incredibly calm and supportive – able to respond at speed, with accuracy and tackle any question we have thrown at them.’

‘Con Alexander is incredibly knowledgeable, able to draw on a range of experiences but also has very strong interpersonal skills. I have felt reassured, looked after and informed.’

‘Chloe Brunton – Exceptionally knowledgeable and has the total respect from all of my team. She leads well has genuine empathy and has our total confidence.’

 

Key clients

Athelstan Trust

Bath Spa University

Bath University

Cabot Learning Federation

Cathedral Schools Trust

Cotham School

Excalibur Academies Trust

LEARN@ MAT

Olympus Academy Trust

Priory Learning Trust

Reach South Academy Trust

REAch2 Academy Trust

Royal Wootton Bassett Academy Trust

The Diocese of Gloucester Academies Trust

The Gloucester Diocesan Board of Education

The Park Academies Trust

The Truro Diocesan Board of Education

Trust in Learning (Academies)

University of Bristol

University of Exeter

University of Reading

University of the West of England

Venturers Trust

White Horse Federation

Nationwide more than 700 independent schools including:

Bristol Grammar School

Clifton College

QEH

Redmaids High School

Badminton School

Malvern College

Millfield

Cheltenham Ladies College

Rugby School

Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools

Bradfield College

Christ College Brecon

Cranleigh School

St Piran’s School

Work highlights

  • Acted for the Stowe School in relation to the acquisition of two prep schools, Swanbourne House School and Winchester House School by way of a merger of charities.
  • Advised a number of school, charity and ecclesiastical clients in relation to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA/the Inquiry), a statutory inquiry looking into organisational responses to child sexual abuse.
  • Advised the University Council on a wide range of legal and regulatory issues arising first from USS strike action and then the Covid-19 pandemic in order to inform the University’s risk management strategy.

Burges Salmon LLP

Burges Salmon LLP's members are 'lawyers with high levels of technical expertise'. The team's client portfolio comprises universities, governing institutions, the DofE and local councils. Under the lead of projects specialist Matthew Remus, it covers outsourcings, spin-offs and mergers, employment disputes and IP matters. Another area of expertise is advising providers of apprenticeships and on-site skills trainings. Luke Bowery specialises in employment law.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Ramus

Other key lawyers:

Luke Bowery; Marcus Harling; John Houlden

Testimonials

‘The key strengths in terms of the HE sector are the teams: background knowledge of research funding which provides a solid foundation for advice on issues such as state aid and procurement; collaborative working; and speed of response in urgent matters.’

‘Experts in children’s social care and education. Specifically in relation to statutory duties, scrutiny and oversight, governance arrangements between Councils and Children’s Trusts. Approachable, helpful and highly knowledgeable. Their understanding of the nature of social care and education services enables them to work with clients to ensure robust arrangements are in place to improve outcomes and practice.’

‘Luke Bowery’s responsiveness and empathy with the sector; gives excellent relevant advice.’

‘Approachable, helpful and highly knowledgeable. Highly experienced lawyers specializing in the establishment of safe, legal and sustainable Children’s Trusts that are focused on improvement and outcomes.’

‘Lawyers with high levels of technical expertise and adaptable, allowing them to provide thorough and reasoned advice in challenging situations, in tight timescales.’

Key clients

Department for Education

University of Bristol

University of Exeter

York St John University

University of Oxford

University of the West of England

Bath Spa University

Cardiff University

OFSTED

Office for Students

Reading Borough Council

Birmingham Children’s Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised BTL on the contractual arrangements necessary to enter into a partnership with the Metropolitan Police Service as lead provider in the delivery of new recruit training and assessment through two new Level 6 qualifications.
  • Continuing to advise the University of Bristol in connection with a new £300m campus development in Bristol city centre.
  • Appointed by the DfE to draft a substantial set of legal precedent and associated guidance documents for use by local authorities in the U.K. considering Children’s Services Alternative Delivery Models

Harrison Clark Rickerbys

Harrison Clark Rickerbys is regularly instructed by independent schools to advise on PFI conversions, integrations and formations of trusts, transactions, and investments. The team was also active in Covid-19 emergency response work. Practice head and 'a real expertKristine Scott has experience in dismissals, pupil exclusions and parental complaints. Rachel Parkin has know-how in relevant employment aspects, and Kate Hickey covers corporate and governance matters.

Practice head(s):

Kristine Scott

Other key lawyers:

Emma Swann; Rachel Parkin; Kate Hickey

Testimonials

‘An extremely proficient medium size firm with particular expertise and experience in education law. Their particular prowess is in reassuring busy and prestigious independent schools when legal issues arise.’

‘The outstanding partner is Kristine Scott. She is entirely capable of handling any matter in the education, employment or immigration field. She is brilliant at handling clients. She understands the importance of maintaining good relationships so far as possible at the top of an organisation. A real expert.’

‘What stands out for me is the culture of the firm – which is a mix of a large London based firm in terms of the wealth of experience and calibre of lawyer with the friendliness and accessibility of a local organisation.’

‘My experience with HCR has been with Rachel Parkin who I found to be a strong ally in solving some complicated legal matters. Despite the challenges faced during the pandemic, her communication skills were exemplary and, even though we were unable to meet face to face, she employed the appropriate expertise and an empathic approach to make everything as straightforward as it could be. I found Rachel to be pragmatic, approachable and extremely knowledgeable. It was a very reassuring experience.’

‘They are experts in the education field. Their understanding of independent schools is first-class. Their advice and recommendations are pragmatic. They have been exceptional responsive: quick to respond at any time.’

‘The appropriateness of their response; they understand the issue and the school’s perspective. their responsiveness from partners, associates and admin staff has been rapid, they seem to work very well as a team.’

‘HCR are the ‘go to’ experts for all education, employment, contract, commercial and international advice. Have engaged several different firms over many years, we are now firmly committed to working exclusively with the team from HCR. They are highly responsive, pragmatic, appreciate the nuances of complex cases and provide us with excellence advice. They are an impressive team who go out of their way to understand the needs of the client whilst providing impartial and objective advice. The Head of the Education Team, Kristine Scott is phenomenal, but she has also built an impressive team who we trust implicitly. ’

‘HCR is deeply experienced in advising schools. They produce innovative and practical solutions which solve problems that seem intractable. The service ethic is top class. They are not frightened of giving you their unfettered opinion which builds confidence. ’

 

Key clients

Cheltenham College

ISBA

Redcliffe School

Headington School

St Dunstan’s College

Independent Schools’ Council

Steele Raymond LLP

The Bournemouth-based team at Steele Raymond LLP assists schools, colleges and students from the independent and maintained sectors with a variety of matters; those include finance, commercial, property and employment issues. John Andrews, who leads the practice, also has previous experience as a governor, and Emma Stainwright is 'wise and with an acute eye for detail'.

Practice head(s):

John Andrews

Other key lawyers:

Emma Stainwright; Tim Stone

Testimonials

‘Emma Stainwright is an excellent partner at Steele Raymond – friendly approachable but also knowledgeable, wise and with an acute eye for detail.’

Wilsons

Wilsons' scope encompasses assisting clients with admissions, exclusions, employment law and reputation management but also extends to acting in contentious matters. Stephen Oxley, who leads the practice, is a contact for independent schools, academies, charities and universities.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Oxley

Other key lawyers:

Vicky Wilson