Education

Specialist legal advice

Our solicitors provide legal advice to a wide range of educational institutions including:

  • Independent Schools
  • Further & Higher Education
  • Academies
  • Schools converting to Academy status
  • Other schools
  • Training boards and private sector training providers

Our legal services to the education sector include:

  • Joint ventures and partnering arrangements
  • Advising in relation to the funding, development and construction of facilities
  • Disposal and acquisition of land and property
  • Agreements of all types including contractor and supplier agreements – including dispute resolution, if required
  • ICT Contracts – a niche strength
  • Employment law advice, including executive immigration and pensions
  • Data protection issues
  • Health & safety audits and training
  • Fire safety; risk assessment – school trips and external visits
  • Advising on copyright, trademarks and other intellectual property rights
  • Charity Law Issues

When it comes to providing legal advice our Independent Schools solicitors have a reputation for understanding the pressures and challenges faced by the sector. Director, David Woods, leads the team. David believes the team’s success is a result of building a good understanding of a school’s unique approach and culture.

“For us, it’s about really getting to know a school. We focus on understanding the culture, the complexities of a school’s operation and its particular characteristics. We enjoy this aspect of building great client relationships – and we deliver effective and relevant legal advice as a result.”

To find out how we can help, either with specific projects or general operational requirements, call David Woods on 01733 887793 or email dvwoods@greenwoods.co.uk.

Some recent experience

  • Advising an independent school on the funding and construction of a new sports hall
  • Advising an independent school on its defined benefits pension scheme
  • Advising an independent schools on contracts to procure IT systems
  • Advising independent schools on their staff accommodation arrangements
  • Advising an independent school on the contract for private ambulance support at its sports facilities
  • Advising independent schools on a wide range of HR issues
  • Providing an independent school with an audit of its data protection compliance and advising on appropriate action

Our solicitors enjoy working with a range of Further and Higher Education clients. We have delivered legal advice on many strategically important projects which have attracted significant profile and in some cases national interest.

In our experience, this sector of the education arena takes an innovative approach to delivering first class services. Approaches which can require strong legal input to get right.

To find out how we can help, either with specific projects or general operational requirements, call David Woods on 01733 887793 or email dvwoods@greenwoods.co.uk.

Some recent experience

  • Working with an FE College on the funding arrangements for the acquisition of new facilities
  • Working with a University on the acquisition of a gym and sports facilities
  • Advising a University on the development of a new specialist medial centre
  • Advising FE Colleges on a range of employment related matters

Our Academies solicitors pride themselves on building strong relationships with schools and providing the best quality service

Whether you’re a new Academy or well established and looking to expand, our specialist team advises on a wide range of issues, many of which are unfamiliar territory for an Academy’s leaders. Our Solicitors have a wealth of knowledge, supporting your school to become the best education provider it can be.

Associate Director, Kelly Peck, explains how the team works: “The team takes a friendly and personable approach to guiding clients through the conversion process.  This builds a strong working relationship – not just during conversion – but throughout the life of the Academy, and clients often tell us they find our approach refreshing and valuable.” 

To find out how we can help, Kelly Peck on 01733 887639 or email kpeck@greenwoods.co.uk.

Our recent projects have included the following:

  • Converting a secondary Single Academy Trust (SAT) to a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) with provision for a further SAT to join the newly-formed MAT within a specific required timetable
  • Advising a newly-formed MAT and attending to the conversion of a primary school to Academy status and successfully transferring the newly-formed Academy into the MAT
  • Advising a lead MAT on the transfer to it of an existing MAT

Academy Conversion

Our solicitors have helped a number of schools with the legal aspects of converting to Academy status since the inception of the Academies Act in 2010. Our knowledgeable team will work with you to ensure a smooth transition.

Our solicitors will become a key part of your academy conversion team. They work to understand your requirements and deliver the outcome you require as effectively and efficiently as possible.

At the start of the transaction, a designated team member will provide you with a checklist of information that we require in order to deal with the academy transfer and to streamline the process.

We have advised schools in a wide range of circumstances. For example:

  • We advised on one of the first conversions for a secondary school owned by the Governing Body.  Advice involved establishing the new academy company, transferring all the property elements within eight weeks.
  • Converting a diverse primary school which included the continuing provision of a Children’s Centre within the school building and a separate nursery/pre-school.
  • Converting a primary school, part LEA-controlled and part Diocese-controlled.  The team liaised with all parties to ensure a smooth and continuing provision of all services and community amenities.
  • Providing guidance to a cluster of schools and their governing bodies considering a Multi Academy Trust and sponsorship of other schools following the setting up of the MAT.

As a result of our experience we wanted to share the key factors for successful conversion with you:

  • Working with you towards the target date of the Academy conversion/joining with an MAT.  Having a target date is essential to focus everyone’s minds on what needs to be done when.
  • Liaising and consulting with the Department for Education and the Education Funding Agency.
  • Liaising and consulting with your Local Authority at an early stage.
  • Identifying and collating contracts, purchase orders and any other documentation or records where the school is currently buying or selling any goods and services.
  • Finding the deeds and documents relating to all land and property used by the school and noting any possible restrictions on the title in order.
  • Considering any employment matters at an early stage.
  • Deciding which individuals will make up the Academy company (who will be the directors and members)Instructing accountants…

… and of course, instructing solicitors with experience who you will enjoy working alongside.

Ongoing Academy Support

Greenwoods has a strong track record in providing legal services to the Education Sector; with a dedicated legal team which will prioritise your needs.

Our experience of working with Academies both during and after conversion gives us an excellent insight into and understanding of your organisation. Knowledge and appreciation of your ethos enable us to tailor our support and advice to reflect your goals.

Legal Services: how we can help

Corporate and Commercial:

  • Constitutional and governance advice
  • Addition of free schools and stand-alone academies
  • Funding, development and construction of new facilities
  • Contracts, including purchasing of goods and services, hire of equipment and outsourcing
  • Advice in relation to ICT, including contracts for computer, network and telephony systems
  • Advice on Data Protection, including an audit to ensure compliance
  • Trademarks, patents, designs and the management of registered IP
  • Advising on the variation of any Funding Agreements

Employment:

  • Corporate immigration – support with the Tier 2 General licence held and your sponsored employees
  • Dealing with Employment Tribunal Claims including unfair dismissal and discrimination
  • Day to day HR advice including recruitment, discipline and grievance procedures, family friendly rights, holiday entitlement and exit strategies
  • Reviewing, drafting and updating contracts, policies, procedures and handbooks
  • Reorganisations and redundancies
  • Advice in relation to pension schemes and other employee benefits

Safeguarding:

  • Scrutinising safeguarding statistics, policies, procedures and practice
  • Checking HR records for compliance and analysing annual reports
  • Liaising with senior leadership teams regarding: staff suspensions, disciplinaries and dismissals; student suspensions and exclusions
  • Support on legislative changes

Estate Management:

  • Advice on acquisitions, disposals and tenancies
  • Assisting with service occupancy agreements and expansion
  • Construction and contract advice on any new build or renovation projects

Disputes:

  • Assisting with disputes between contractors
  • Assisting with the collection of any outstanding debts

Health and Safety:

  • Health and safety audits and training
  • Providing guidance on compliance obligations.
  • Support on key issues including fire safety, the bribery act, allergens, accident investigation, asbestos, and special educational needs assessments

Educational establishments have opportunities to increase revenue by making commercial use of assets.

Summer schools and other alternative uses out of school time can provide an important income stream.  It is important to get these arrangements right.  If you don’t, it is all too easy to make a loss.

Arranging and booking often takes place well in advance.  If things do go wrong, it is often around the booking process, for example:

  • the paperwork wasn’t completed properly so the contract isn’t enforceable;
  • the customer cancels at a point when it is too late for you to find alternatives and the cancellation provisions are not sufficiently robust to allow you to enforce them;
  • the customer says they just don’t have the money to pay;
  • your fee is based on the number of participants on their course and they haven’t managed to recruit many.

In addition make sure:

  • your insurance covers the use;
  • you have any consents that might be required (e.g. from landlords of premises you lease);
  • your estates team isn’t planning to do works to the relevant buildings at the time of the event (remember, the booking might be taken months in advance).

Other issues that can easily arise include, for example, when damage is caused to your property; or when there is a misunderstanding about what is included in the package of facilities – and who is responsible for what.

A good and robust contract is required to record the terms of arrangements.

Make sure you:

  • follow the correct procedures to make the contract is binding and enforceable;
  • carry out appropriate due diligence on the customer to make sure they are able to fulfil their obligations;
  • take as much of the fee as you can at the earliest possible opportunity.

To find out how we can help, either with specific projects or general operational requirements, call David Woods on 01733 887793 or email dvwoods@greenwoods.co.uk

David Woods

For an initial discussion about how we can help call 01733 887793 or email David Woods

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