Sharpe Pritchard has extensive experience of working for local authorities, governing bodies and academy trusts in relation to a wide range of educational infrastructure matters. From capital projects to the outsourcing of education functions, from academy conversions and re-brokerage to land issues, our lawyers have an excellent understanding of the issues associated with the current and emerging local education environment. Sharpe Pritchard is appointed to the National Education Legal Services Framework.

We have a dedicated unit focussing on schools construction and whole school infrastructure projects. Our firm has advised worked on many school PFI projects, complex academy transfers, school expansion programmes and strategic projects focussed on schools improvement and statutory duties.

We are used to dealing with project-specific issues that require a bespoke solution within the confines of a standard construction contract, for example where the Education and Skills Funding Agency is making a contribution to the capital costs, where there are co-located facilities or where there are complex site issues.

We have extensive experience in advising governing bodies who wish to change status, from community to foundation, and acquire trusts, including in anticipation of sponsored academy conversion. We therefore have a full appreciation of the issues and concerns of governing bodies.

Our specialist team can provide expert advice on all legal issues arising from setting up and operating a new academy or the transfer of an existing academy. This includes governance, the transfer of assets and real estate, employment law, TUPE and pensions issues. We also advise on the full range of commercial contracts relating to the operation of a school and school building programmes including PFI arrangements.

Recent work

  • advising Slough Council on the externalisation of their education services to a learning trust;
  • acting for a number of local authorities in relation to their school building and expansion programmes;
  • acting on the conversion to academy status of a large number of schools nationwide, including special schools, PFI schools, trust and foundation schools, with and without sponsored solutions;
  • being retained by the ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency) (an executive agency of the Department for Education), under the CCS framework, to advise and assist in its current procurement of training providers to deliver apprenticeship training for non-levy paying employers;
  • advising on associated complex issues relating to the transfer of assets and treatment of land, including S77 applications, the legal issues arising from community use and joint use of leisure facilities on school sites;
  • acting for Isle of Wight Council in its successful Supreme Court appeal concerning prosecutions of parents who take their children out of school for term time holidays;
  • acting for the managed service provider for Buckinghamshire County Council on a large suite of procurements for school transport services;
  • advising an academy chain on its infrastructure contracts, including ICT and construction;


What others say

The education: schools team was ranked in tier 3, for its “strong track record”, with Annie Moy, Catherine Newman and Tim Farr receiving recognition. Legal 500 2016

Annie Moy and senior solicitor Catherine Newman are able to “tailor advice” to client needs. Legal 500, 2015.

My overall impression is very good indeed – to the point I would not hesitate to use [Sharpe Pritchard] in the future and would hope that I would get the opportunity to do so given their strengths, reliability and value for moneyAcademy project lead for a county council.

[Sharpe Pritchard] provides us with an excellent service, often in the face of late instructions when the LEA seems to be the last to know that a conversion is going to happen… A number of the conversions have not been straightforward e.g. academies providing services back to the LEA, or on-going building works funded by the Council, and a solution has always been found Head of contracts at a local authority.

“I found [Sharpe Pritchard's] input to be timely, appropriate and of high quality. The team displayed a good knowledge of, and sensitivity to, the educational environment in which they were working and established effective working relationships with a wide range of stake holders … I rate them highly” County council project director.

“provides excellent advice relating to education capital projects” County council project director.

"I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you, Catherine and your team for all your sterling working on the children's project ... you always come across with good humour, complete focus and complete professionals." Head of law at a local authority.


26 February 2018

Stalled progress of academy conversion could be due to 'funding uncertainty'
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30 January 2018

Data Protection: specific protection for children’s data under the GDPR
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2 March 2017

Academy conversions from within PFIs
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