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Schools encounter many legal issues when seeking to deliver the best educational experience for their students. These issues arise in all aspects of school life and include child protection and safeguarding, data protection and information management, the inspection regime and other regulatory requirements, admissions, employment, commercial contracts and relationships, the school estate, the parent relationship, governance, fundraising, partnerships and mergers/acquisitions.

Expectations and standards are high, and reputation is critical. Schools need experienced, specialist and proactive legal support to help them navigate these issues.

Our expertise in the schools sector

We advise independent schools (both charitable and privately-owned), multi-academy trusts and maintained schools, and global educational businesses. We work closely with:

  • Head Teachers
  • Governors
  • Bursars
  • Proprietors 
  • HR Managers
  • Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs)
  • Clerks and in-house lawyers

We also work closely with many school associations, providing support and guidance to them and their memberships.

The diversity of our client base and the widespread range of work we do means we are well placed to understand your school’s culture and priorities, as well as your specific legal challenges. 

Legal services we offer

Our Schools Advisor Mary Breen, a former Headmistress for 20 years, further enhances our sector experience with her knowledge and understanding of the role of Heads, Deputy Heads and Governors.

Our team advises on the following areas:

  • Education
  • Safeguarding and children protection
  • Employment and discrimination
  • Investigations
  • Data protection
  • Dispute resolution
  • School contracts
  • Banking and finance
  • Charity and governance
  • Property
  • Immigration and student support
  • School mergers and acquisitions
  • Family law


Recent work highlights

  • We advised a UK School on its collaboration with Tutor Impact for the opening and operation of a new, premium international boarding school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We drafted and advised on the agreements underpinning the collaboration; assisted with negotiations with the international partner; co-ordinated local advice where needed; and managed the School’s international trade mark portfolio. 
  • We acted for a mixed independent school on its merger with a prestigious preparatory school. The merger involved complex legal advice from across the firm. The mergers were led by lawyers in the firm’s Charity and Community team and also involved lawyers from our property, employment, pensions, commercial, intellectual property and data protection departments, advising on the extensive due diligence and negotiation of the transaction documents.
  • We manage the trade mark portfolios for a number of leading independent schools, advising on trade mark registrations in both the UK and overseas. We also advise on the exploitation of these trade marks through international franchise and collaboration agreements, helping British schools set up overseas.

Farrer & Co is first class - they're my go-to firm when I need to solve a complex matter. I trust them implicitly to make sound judgements.

Chambers UK 2023

How can we help?

Contact the team about services for schools:

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