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Education in South West

Stone King LLP

The national specialist education practice of Stone King LLP provides broad advice and expertise across the area, with particular strength in independent schools, further education (FE) colleges and Church of England schools. The firm has expertise in procurement, criminal procedures and supporting schools in defending disability discrimination claims at the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SENDIST) tribunal, as well as advising diocesan boards of education, multi-academy trusts (MATs) and maintained schools. The immigration team advises clients on sponsorship applications for MATs and also assists schools with Brexit preparations. The team is co-led by Roger Inman; Graham Burns; Tom Morrison; and Helen Tucker, who is head of the independent schools team.

Other key lawyers:

Ciara Campfield; Michael Brotherton


Continutiy of personnel and understanding of the sector specific issues we face. Balanced and practical advice offered.’

Helen Tucker is the relationship manager and my experience is very positive. Her responses are very timely and show a great understanding of the legal elements of issues which are explained clearly but also an understanding of the boarding school environment. Her ultimate advice is always very balanced.’

Experts in a wide range of fields with open access to the most appropriate person who is always an expert in their field. They listen carefully to our needs and do not over complicate their advice. Always efficient and never let you down.’

Helen Tucker is superb.’

We have a very strong, long-standing working relationship with Stone King. As a firm they have taken the time meet with us at the school and ensure they have a thorough understanding of us both as a wider school group and in relation to the needs of our constituent schools, in addition to our obligations as a charity. This is underpinned by Stone King.’

We know many of the key lawyers in the Education Team, who between them have a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of the independent schools.’


Key clients

Monkton Combe School

Kingswood School

Palladian Academy Trust

Cotswold Beacon Academy Trust

Clevedon Learning Trust

Wellsway Multi Academy Trust

Midsomer Norton Schools Partnership

The Girls’ Day School Trust

United Learning Trust

Anglian Learning Trust

Ark Schools

Ormiston Academies Trust


Peterborough Diocesan Education Trust

Red Kite Learning Trust

United Church Schools Trust

Inspiration Trust

King Edward VI Academy Trust


Princethorpe College

Work highlights

  • Advising the government-funded Education & Training Foundation on its £80m contractual arrangements which will underpin the development of the country’s teaching workforce for T-Levels.
  • Advised King David High School Manchester on its successful legal challenge against Ofsted relating to its inspection report.


The ‘efficient and proactiveVWV covers the spectrum of education sector matters, providing a ‘wealth of experience acting in the most complex and sensitive cases'. The firm is ‘exceptionally good at acting for educational institutions’, with clients including FE colleges, independent schools, academy trusts and maintained schools. The team is co-led by higher education specialist Jane Byford; Emma-Jane Dalley, who focuses on FE colleges; Barney Northover, who has particular expertise advising independent schools on charity law, governance and strategic matters; and Chloe Brunton, who is head of the academies and maintained schools practice. Also notable is Simon Bevan, who advises on employment, discrimination and industrial relations issues in the education sector.

Other key lawyers:

Simon Bevan


‘Incredibly professional and reliable’

‘Yvonne Spencer and Nicola Tarmey have been brilliant in their communications – prompt, efficient and helpful’

‘Cannot recommend them highly enough!’

‘Effective, competent and friendly’

‘Doug Locke is the standout for his wise and calm advice, and his ability to see the big picture and understand our needs. He is friendly and related immediately to our governing body, who saw him as authoritative, as indeed he is’

‘VWV’s team is responsive and quickly allocates cases to the best individual. The handover is quick and clear, which means we can get advice quickly. It is also useful that response time is built into initial reply so expectations are always met’

‘All individuals are exceptionally good at getting clarity, keeping us focused on the legal challenges’

‘Tabitha Cave has been superb at every turn in a variety of matters. She is considered, proactive and an expert in her field; her advice and insight has been hugely helpful over a number of years’

Key clients

Bath Spa University

De Montfort University

King’s College London

London South Bank University

Royal Academy of Music

University of Bath

University of Bristol

University of Derby

University of Exeter

University of Reading

University of Southampton

University of the West of England

Bristol Grammar School

Clifton College


Redmaids High School

Badminton School

Sidcot School

Work highlights

  • Advised Rugby School on a transaction with Bilton Grange, as well as international projects, employment and regulatory compliance.
  • Advised the University of Bristol on deeds of appointment for the consultant team for its £350m Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus project.
  • Advised CLF on the acquisition of two academies from an MAT in difficult financial circumstances.

Browne Jacobson LLP

The ‘highly responsive, clear and authoritativeBrowne Jacobson LLP provides corporate social responsibility support to schools through experience working as school governors. The firm is 'knowledgeable and gives well-founded advice'. ‘Exceptional’ practice head Julia Green specialises in education, particularly academy conversions, and ‘responds to questions with great efficiency’, as well as ‘sustaining a positive personal relationship with key staff’. Notable in her team is senior associate Victoria Hatton, whose expertise includes school governance, the corporate aspects of academy conversions and advising on contentious matters.

Practice head(s):

Julia Green

Other key lawyers:

Victoria Hatton


‘We are always made to feel valued and important and their excellent relationships with clients are an integral part of the service they offer’

‘A specialism in the educational sector is key to us. The excellent HR support we have received complements and supports the legal guidance superbly’

‘Julia Green is approachable and willing to go the extra mile to work with us. She knows our organisation well and can tailor support and advice where appropriate to our situation’

‘All the individuals we work with at Browne Jacobson deserve recognition, however, Julia Green is the lynch pin and has been instrumental in developing our positive relationship with Browne Jacobson’

‘The team at Browne Jacobson work incredibly well together and provide a comprehensive service. A member of the team is always available to talk and the team has a range of individuals with strengths in particular areas which they make clear and understandable for those of us who may not be legally trained’

‘Julia Green at Browne Jacobson provides sound, practical advice and draws upon a wealth of experience in dealing with both local authorities and the Department of Education. She provides clarity and a cool head when you most need it and understands the importance of ensuring all children are reaching their potential’

‘Browne Jacobson from the outset has been remarkable. Owing to the diligence of Julia Green and her team we have achieved more in six months than in six years’

‘Julia Green has taken the lead and executes all duties with a calm and supportive countenance. Her team works well under her guidance and direction’

Key clients

Cornerstone Academy Trust

Cornwall Education Learning Trust

Exmouth Community College

Hayes School

Kernow Learning Multi Academy Trust

Learning Academy Partnership (South West)

Lighthouse Schools Partnership

Lion Education Trust

Osprey Learning Trust

Preston Primary Academy Trust

Sentient Trust

The Bishop Fraser Trust

The Blue School

The First Federation Trust

The Huish Academy Trust

The Southwater Junior Academy

Warrington Primary Academy Trust

Westcountry Schools Trust

Wimborne Academy Trust

Work highlights

  • Advised Kernow Learning Multi Academy Trust on merging two trusts, from the beginning of merger discussions through to the restructure post completion.
  • Advised Preston Primary Academy Trust on the admissions process for inappropriately placing a child in a school as an in-year admission.
  • Advised the Lion Academy Trust on the calculation of a supplemental funding agreement for a developing school to obtain full funding per child.

Burges Salmon LLP

Working for both public and private sector clients, Burges Salmon LLP handles a range of education sector matters, from the spin-off of new businesses for universities and the development of new campus buildings to employment disputes and IP. The firm has expertise in the area of apprenticeships and on-site skills training, as well as the outsourcing of education services from local authorities to new children’s services trusts. Other specialisms for the firm include PPP and joint venture projects, student accommodation projects, employment disputes and M&A deals related to the education sector. Matthew Ramus leads the team and is known for complex projects.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Ramus

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


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 of the delivery of new recruit training and assessment.
  • Advising the University of Bristol in connection with a new £300m campus development in Bristol city centre.
  • Advising the Department for Education on legal precedent and associated guidance documents for use by local authorities in the UK considering children’s services alternative delivery models.

HCR Hewitsons

Harrison Clark Rickerbys’ education practice covers transactions, trustee advice, data protection, employment, and a range of other legal and regulatory matters. The firm advises independent schools nationwide, as well as assisting with converting and establishing academies and free schools, including PFI conversions, co-operative academies and integrating existing academies into trusts. The practice also has experience in the formation of MATs. Kristine Scott leads the team and has broad experience of issues relating to staff, pupils and parents, from sensitive dismissals to pupil exclusions and parental complaints.

Practice head(s):

Kristine Scott

Other key lawyers:

Emma Swann; Nicolas Groffman


‘Significantly better value than a number of London-based competitors’

‘Nicolas Groffman was thorough, concise, clear and pragmatic in his approach. He has always been available for consultation, offers wise counsel and explains things in a logical and analytical manner. I value this. I was massively impressed and have recommended him to other associates in the sector I work in’

Key clients

The Independent Schools’ Bursars Association (ISBA)

Dene Magna School

SAND Academies Trust

Mercian Educational Trust

Royal Grammar School, Worcester

Farlington School

Independent Schools’ Council

Wycliffe College

Headington School

Work highlights

  • Advised ISBA in relation to the September 2018 government announcement of a 43% increase in employer contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.
  • Acted for Dene Magna School as an interested party in the judicial review proceedings in which John Kyrle High School challenged the decision of the South West Regional Schools Commissioner to grant approval of the client’s application to the Secretary of State for Education to open a new sixth form at Gloucestershire College’s campus at Cinderford in the Forest of Dean.
  • Represented SAND Academies Trust on the formation of an MAT in early 2019.

Michelmores LLP

Michelmores LLP is best known for advising schools and MATs nationwide on day-to-day education law issues, ranging from admissions and appeals to exclusions, child protection and GDPR matters. The firm also acts on re-brokerages in the sector. Charlotte Antoniou leads the team and specialises in advising on MAT structures, governance arrangements and compliance. Antony Power left the firm in 2019 to co-found PHP Law LLP.

Practice head(s):

Charlotte Antoniou

Key clients

Ambitions Academies Trust

Aspirations Academies Trust

Academies Enterprise Trust

Bay Education Trust

The Sigma Trust

Derby Diocesan Academy Trust

The First Federation Trust

Ridgeway Learning Partnership

Learning Academy Partnership (South West)

Apollo Partnership

Great Learners Trust

The Stour Academy Trust

Herts for Learning Limited

ACE Schools Multi Academy Trust (Plymouth)

Tarka Learning Partnership

South Dartmoor MAT

Adventure Learning Academy Trust

Bright Tribe Trust

Discovery Schools Academy Trust

Ventrus Academy Trust

Aspire Academy Trust (Cornwall)

Aspire Trust (Buckinghamshire)

Work highlights

  • Advised the interim trustees of Bright Tribe on the winding-up of the academy trust and its subsidiaries following the successful re-brokerage of the trust’s schools.
  • Advised the Archdiocese of Southwark on an intervention in a large London-based Catholic secondary school.
  • Advised Estuaries Multi Academy Trust on the creation of the first major MAT to be established in the South West in the last three years.

Steele Raymond LLP

Steele Raymond LLP has expertise in the governance of schools and colleges in the maintained and independent sectors. The firm advises on education-related commercial property and employment work in the independent sector, providing support to schools and other organisations. The ‘experienced, intelligent and incisiveJohn Andrews leads the team and has significant experience in the maintained and independent sectors.

Practice head(s):

John Andrews

Other key lawyers:

Tim Stone; Peter Rolph


‘Steele Raymond is as a very strong regional firm with a number of extremely capable and experienced fee-earners’

‘The firm is a safe pair of hands’

‘I have no hesitation in recommending the firm generally’

‘I have known and worked with John Andrews for many years and regard him as the consummate professional: personally charming and engaging and excellent at dealing with even the most difficult of difficult clients.  Thoroughly recommended’


Known for its work with independent schools, Wilsons’ expertise includes admissions, exclusions, employment law and reputation management. The firm also assists clients in contentious matters related to the education sector. Practice head Stephen Oxley has experience advising independent schools, academies, charities and universities.

Practice head(s):

Stephen Oxley

Other key lawyers:

Vicky Wilson


‘Wilsons have renowned expertise within the education sector’

‘Very professional’

‘They listen carefully to the needs you have as a client’

‘They are transparent and communicate frequently and effectively’

‘Their knowledge stood out’

‘Vicky Wilson and Steven Oxley have provided valuable legal guidance’

Key clients

Holland Park School

The Godolphin School

Wisbech Grammar School

Yateley Manor School

Work highlights

  • Advised the Godolphin School on a range of matters, including a review of the parent/school contract documentation; corporate giving and donations; and setting up bursary funding awards.
  • Advised the Holland Park School on its relationship with its wholly owned trading subsidiary, which had been largely dormant since before the school took on academy status.
  • Advising Coastal Learning Partnership (previously Ocean Learning Trust) on a range of matters including education, employment and information law.