Specialist legal advice

In this section

We are experts in the education sector providing pragmatic and responsive advice to clients in an ever-changing landscape.

We advise a range of education providers including:

  • Academies and other Schools
  • University Colleges
  • Further & Higher Education
  • Independent Schools
  • Employers providing apprenticeships

We have been working with the education sector extensively for many years, as a result, our legal services reflect your legal needs.  We can advise on:

  • Agreements of all types including contractor and supplier agreements – including dispute resolution, if required
  • Charity law issues
  • Copyright, trademarks and other intellectual property rights
  • Data privacy and Freedom of Information
  • Disposal and acquisition of land and property
  • Drafting, negotiation, amendment and finalisation of project-specific construction, funding and development agreements for facilities.
  • Employment and HR advice
  • Health & safety and regulatory matters including audits, risks assessments and training
  • Immigration
  • Joint ventures and partnering arrangements
  • Pensions

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

The Legal 500 commends us for our Education advice:

…Joanna Scally is ‘very approachable and knowledgeable in her subject both generally and particularly relating to education’.” (2019)

Greenwoods GRM has a long track record of advising high-profile clients in the education sector.” (2020)

“We value the level of engagement and proactive relationship management, as the firm has invested time and resources in providing valuable legal training and legal update events.” (2020)

“Jo Scally and Siobhan Thomson provide reassuringly reliable and realistic advice. They collaborate effectively ensuring that the service is always responsive and that someone is available when we need them.” (2020)

Whether you’re a new Academy or a well-established Multi Academy Trust (‘MAT’) and looking to expand, our specialist team advises on a wide range of issues. Our team have a wealth of knowledge, supporting your school to become the best education provider it can be.

Academy Conversion and Transfer

Our team has 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 to understand your requirements and deliver the outcome you require as effectively and efficiently as possible.

To find out how we can help, contact Claire Banks on 01733 887772 or email

We have advised schools in a wide range of circumstances, including:

  • Advising a local Secondary Single Academy Trust (‘SAT’) to form a MAT and subsequently assisting the new MAT in joining forces with another Primary SAT
  • Advising on one of the first conversions for a secondary school owned by the Governing Body – advice involved establishing the new academy company and 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 MAT 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

Other Academy and school support

We also advise academies and other schools on issues including:

  • Data privacy issues such as data breaches, data sharing agreements, GDPR self-assessments and data privacy audits
  • Employment and HR matters such as TUPE, redundancies, employment contracts, policies and settlement agreements
  • Health and safety matters such as appropriate measures for risk assessments relating to re-opening of schools in relation to COVID-19
  • Property matters such as leases, community use agreements and an income-generating development project to review proposed s278 and s106 agreements
  • Pension matters such as advice relating to admissions agreements for pensions relating to a third party
  • Defending Tribunal claims including managing mediation.
  • Commercial agreements such as commercial transfer agreements, catering contracts and framework agreements

One of our key clients, Peterborough Key Academies Trust, is happy to be highlighted as one of our clients.


  • “Our schools have long-standing relationships with Greenwoods, and we have found their support and advice invaluable over the years. As a dynamic organisation ourselves, we need more than ever a service responsive to our changing needs. Greenwoods, through its exemplary people, deliver this without compromise. We hold our partnership in the highest regard.” Peterborough Key Academies Trust


Our team has experience of advising employers on the intricacies of new apprenticeship arrangements or expanding existing ones.

Recent work includes:

  • Drafting and reviewing apprenticeship agreements in England, Wales and Scotland under the new apprenticeship standards
  • Advising on the apprenticeship levy
  • Advising on the termination, redundancy and performance of apprentices
  • Advising on the impact of COVID-19 on apprenticeships
  • Advising on a range of issues with apprenticeships and providing timely and commercial advice

As a result of our personal approach, excellent service delivery and commercial focus, our education team has now been instructed by 21 Cambridge Colleges; out of the 31 Cambridge Colleges on a range of matters involving fellows, members, students and employees.

We have built strong relationships with Bursars and HR Managers which has led them to take Greenwoods GRM with them when they have moved roles.

We also provide bespoke training to the Cambridge Colleges which draws on our clear understanding of the issues and challenges specific to the college environment. Our knowledge also enables our team to provide significant added value – we can often save cost for our college clients as a result as we are likely to have encountered similar situations and have identified potential solutions.

Recent work includes:

  • Advising on restructures and changes of terms and conditions such as a proposal to reduce a normal working week of staff from 40 hours to 37.5 hours, affecting over 100 employees, which gave rise to equal pay issues, less favourable treatment because of part-time status, constructive unfair dismissal risks and pension considerations
  • Advising on data protection matter such as a subject access request made by the employee spanning a three-year period
  • Advising on senior exits such as the exit of a staff member who was also a professional by-fellow, on grounds of performance where there were potential age discrimination issues and continuing fellowship rights advice covered the without prejudice process, settlement agreement and the taxation of the termination payments
  • Advising on grievance and disciplinary issues such as a potential gross misconduct matter against a Porter in relation to allegations of theft and unauthorised access in restricted areas
  • Advising on the employment status of various academic staff engaged by a College including fellows, by-fellows, tutors, supervisors and officers
  • Advising on constructions matters including the construction documentation for a major extension to the recreational facilities for College students
  • Reviewing contractual documentation including the terms for catering and conference events
  • Advising on pension issues such as the winding up of a final salary pension scheme
  • Advising on immigration matters such as right to work queries, Tier 2 and Tier 4 Student visas and the implications/planning for Brexit

Key clients, happy for us to highlight our relationship with them include:

  • Churchill College
  • Emmanuel College
  • Murray Edwards College
  • Pembroke College
  • Peterhouse College


  • “I know I can rely on the team at Greenwoods to provide timely and pragmatic advice. They have a thorough understanding of the sector and this, as well as their expertise in their field, makes their advice particularly valuable.” (Churchill College)
  • “The service provided by the Employment Team (Jo Scally & Siobhan Thomson) at Greenwoods is always excellent, informative, very supportive and down to earth. They are a pleasure to work with.” (Emmanuel College)
  • Siobhan / Greenwoods has helped with a variety of legal situations that inspired overwhelm or confusion. Always approachable, it has been a partnership that finds a way forward through sound knowledge, gentle guidance and some laughter to lighten the load” (Murray Edwards)
  • “Pembroke College worked with Greenwood Solicitors recently.  They were a delight to work with, approachable, friendly and most of all they gave us valuable advice in a format which we could understand” (Pembroke College)


Our team enjoys 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.

Some recent experience

  • Advising an intercollegiate college service on the employment status and contractual documentation for tutors
  • Advising FE Colleges on a range of employment related matters
  • Advising a FE College on the liability for redundancy payments connected with a TUPE transfer
  • Advising a University on the development of a new specialist medical centre
  • Advising on a range of property matters including lease renewals
  • Reviewing bus contracts for a FE College in relation to COVID-19
  • 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

One of our key further education clients, Cambridge Regional College, is happy for us to highlight that we advise them.

We have long standing relationships with a number of independent schools and provide advice on a wide range of legal needs.

As a result, our team has a reputation for understanding the pressures and challenges independent schools face. We believe that the team’s success is a result of building a clear understanding of a school’s unique approach and culture alongside establishing strong working relationships.

Recent advice to independent schools includes:

  • Advising on all employment and HR matters such as exiting staff, grievances, disciplinaries, redundancies, holiday pay, restructuring of departments, changing terms and conditions of employment and the government job retention scheme
  • Advising on all real estate issues including lease renewals, lease surrenders, temporary letting of hotel rooms for students to comply with COVID-19 related measures, s278 agreements and staff accommodation arrangements
  • Advising on all health and safety matters and regulatory issues including risks assessments
  • Advising on all construction issues such as the construction documents in connection with the design and construction of a new sports facility and the demolition of existing boarding houses
  • Dealing with refinancing/borrowing matters such as the funding of a new sports hall
  • Dealing with all data privacy matters including subject access requests
  • Reviewing and drafting all commercial documentation such as the terms of contracts between Schools and parents/pupils
  • Dealing with all aspects of pensions work such as providing complete support on the exit from a defined benefits pension scheme including collective consultation with affected teaching staff
  • Dealing with disputes such as non-payment of school fees and parent complaints

Key clients include:

  • Kimbolton School
  • Oakham School
  • Stamford Endowed School
  • Witham Hall School Trust


  • “Greenwoods property and Business and Finance departments have supported Oakham School in the last five years through a first registration exercise of all land and buildings and three bank financings, including a change of bank. They have always been diligent and tenacious in ensuring these transactions were completed in a timely manner and I have no hesitation in recommending the firm.” (Oakham School)
  • “We have worked with Greenwoods for a number of years and it is great to be able to work with a firm who put the client first, a positive, customer-focused and pragmatic practice who are a pleasure to work with always offering sound advice and support” (Stamford Endowed School)
  • “For several years now the school has received excellent counsel from a proactive, responsive and professional team. We were recommended to GreenwoodsGRM by other schools and the recommendation has repeatedly proven itself as an excellent one.” (Witham Hall School Trust)
  • “Always willing to take a call and Greenwoods give us sound and confident advice.” (Kimbolton School)

Joanna Scally

For an initial discussion about how we can help call 01223 785296 or email Joanna Scally

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