Specialist legal advice
Our solicitors provide legal advice to a wide range of educational institutions including:
- Independent Schools
- Further & Higher Education
- 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
Partner, Joanna Scally leads the team. To find out how our experienced experts can help get in touch with Jo. Call 01223 785296 or email email@example.com
The Legal 500 commends us for our Education advice:
“The firm has a long track record of advising high-profile clients in the education sector.” (2019)
“Associate Joanna Scally is ‘very approachable and knowledgeable in her subject both generally and particularly relating to education’.” (2019)
When it comes to providing legal advice our Independent Schools solicitors have a reputation for understanding the pressures and challenges faced by the sector. Consultant, David Woods, 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.”
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 school 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.
Some recent experience
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 a well established MAT 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.
Partner, Kelly Peck, explains how the team works: “The team takes a friendly and personable approach to guiding clients through the conversion process and beyond. 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. This usually means that once the initial conversion is concluded, we remain on hand to advise on and be of assistance to our Academy clients on a wide range of issues that arise in the day to day life of an Academy ”
To find out how we can help, Kelly Peck on 01733 887639 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 and Transfer
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 and the transfer of existing Academies or MATS to other MATs. Our knowledgeable team will work with you to ensure a smooth transition.
Our solicitors will become a key part of your academy conversion or transfer 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 conversion or 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.
- Acting for a MAT bringing into its trust an under performing local community school subject to a Direct Academy Order.
- Acting for an established MAT on the transfer to it of three existing academies from an under-performing MAT.
As a result of our experience we wanted to share the key factors for successful conversion or transfer with you:
- Working with you towards the target date of the Academy conversion/joining with an MAT/transfer of an existing Academy or 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 and Skills Funding Agency.
- Liaising and consulting with your Local Authority or the Academy or MAT 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) for newly formed SATs or MATs.
- Instructing accountants…
… and of course, instructing solicitors with experience who you will enjoy working alongside.
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 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.
For an initial discussion about how we can help call 01223 785296 or email Joanna Scally
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