Independent Schools

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“They are available and get back to you when they say they're going to.”

Chambers UK A Client's Guide to the Legal Profession, 2014
Our team of specialist lawyers provide a comprehensive range of legal services and support to Independent schools and parents. We currently deliver expert commercial, regulatory and compliance advice to over 75 schools.

We support both parents, schools and pupils.

Our services

Click on the links below to read more about our service offerings:

In addition to the above areas of specialisation, we also regularly provide added value services such as secondments of staff, governor training and contributing to knowledge transfer (e.g. e-bulletins, guest lectures, contributions to legal text-books, entrepreneurial legal services and conference attendance and participation).  

Constitutions and governance

For many schools, their vision and values demand that they have an effective constitutional and corporate structure and that they maintain the highest standards of corporate governance. Our Schools team has experience in advising schools on large scale reviews and restructuring of a school's constitutional and governance arrangements, advising and briefing governors on changes to law and practice affecting governance, and advising on specific constitutional and governance issues. 

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Information Governance - Data protection and FOI

Recent high profile cases of education establishment breaching data protection rules, has emphasised the importance of ensuring that your school maintains robust standards that are capable of being defended. We can provide advice on compliance with the Data Protection Acts, freedom of information, information security and confidentiality.

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Brand and Intellectual Property

Many schools recognise the value of protecting their brand and intellectual property. We can advise you how best to protect your school's name, logo and avoid infringing the rights of others.

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Employment and Pensions

Employment law is constantly changing. Although a school's workforce is its major asset, it has also the potential to be a huge liability. We have one of the largest Employment Law teams in the south and therefore can advise on a range of specialist employment law issues for schools including:

  • discipline, suspension and grievance
  • poor performance
  • recruitment
  • employment contracts, policies and procedures
  • severance/redundancy/dismissal
  • Employment Tribunal and court claims
  • discrimination
  • ill-health
  • alternative dispute resolution - employment mediation and the defence of complex litigation
  • pensions
  • TUPE
  • reorganisations
  • employment relations
  • working time and holidays
  • business immigration
  • family friendly rights including flexible working
  • Vigil - a fixed-cost anxiety-free employment risk management service

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Charity and Company compliance law

We advise on updating governing documents and provide training and updates on charity and company law. We can help with issues relating to meeting the public benefit requirements, including community involvement and helping schools and their foundations rationalise trust funds and permanent endowments.

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Governor issues

The effectiveness and commitment of any school's governing body is critical to its success. Governors must have the skills and attributes that will best serve their school. They must be effectively recruited and inducted and have a framework of training support, accountability, terms of reference and role descriptions that help them to stay highly motivated while recognising that their time is voluntarily given. We have advised on  the management of conflicts of interest (and supporting documentation), governors performing below standard and the eventual removal of a governor, governors' disagreements as to policy and governance dysfunction arising from failure to understand the different roles of the board and the senior management team.

In addition, we also provide an on-going programme of governor induction and refresher training designed to help your school comply with best practice to induct and refresh governors. Informative and interactive, our training courses are run in our offices and at our client's schools. Please get in touch with us to find out more.

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Health and Safety and Child protection

Our Schools team can advise on compliance, risk management, infringement, prosecutions and crisis management.

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Parental contracts, policies and procedures

We apply our wide commercial contracts experience to our school clients and frequently advise on drafting, updating, introducing and interpreting parent contracts and related documents. This includes registration and acceptance forms, standard terms and conditions, the prospectus, payment of fees in advance, payment of fees by instalments and payment of fees by third parties. We also routinely advise on the full range of schools' policies and procedures including disciplinary procedures and policies.

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Pastoral issues

We help to support pastoral care issues in schools by advising on pupil issues, human rights law and family relationships, access and authorisations; court of protection issues and mental instability; serious incident management, policies, reporting and reputational management; inquests and inquiries; serious disciplinary incidents and the relationship between the school, the police and other public agencies.

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Legacies and charitable gifts

Legacy income is a relatively untapped potential source of funding for schools. We help schools develop long-term income streams by exploiting legacy opportunities including legacy fundraising, will-writing, interpretation of wills, tax planning, estates with businesses or foreign assets, estate accounts, appropriation of assets and other related legacy work.

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Trading activities

We have standard packages for setting up and financing school trading subsidiaries and for regulating the relationship between a charitable school and its subsidiaries.

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Banking and Finance

Our Schools team has excellent links with a number of mainstream banks who are keen to provide funding to the Education sector, and with accountancy firms who specialise in advising charitable and proprietor owned schools. 

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Mergers and acquisitions

The current economic environment is difficult for schools and some have faced closure, while others are being forced to merge or are being converted into academies. Our Education lawyers have a proven track record in advising schools on restructuring, partnering, merging, take-overs and conversion to academy status.

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Property, planning and construction

We act for schools that have one property and those with numerous properties. The work our Schools team does centres around property development, planning and construction as well as standard sale/purchase/leasing arrangements. Where properties are investment propertie, we deal again with sales and purchases and all the usual management matters of licences to assign/underlet/alter as well as lease renewals and dealing with any debt collection or resolving disputes between landlord and tenant. We routinely work with schools' tax advisers to put in place tax planning schemes for construction and refurbishment projects.

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Insolvency and business recovery

We have one of the largest insolvency and business recovery teams of its kind in the country. Our services include advising schools on business turnaround rescues and the use of insolvency procedures. We frequently advise directors and trustees of their duties and responsibilities with regard to insolvency issues.

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For further information please contact: