The education industry...

The education system in the UK is a devolved matter – each country in the UK has its own separate system under a separate government. 


In each country there are 5 stages of education: early years, primary, secondary, further education (FE) and high education (HE). Education is compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 (4 in Northern Ireland) and 16. In England the age has been extended to 18 for those born after 1 September 1987. 


Lawyers that specialise in the education sector can act on behalf of a parent or a student or they can act on behalf of educational institutions. 

What do the lawyers do?!

Lawyers that specialise in the education sector can act on behalf of a parent or a student or they can act on behalf of educational institutions. 

Usually, lawyers that act on behalf of the parent/student in legal issues falling within this sector will be public law and human rights lawyers. Typical issues include: 

  • making appeal applications when a child has been excluded from school or college 

  • challenge schools or local authorities that fail to provide special educational needs support 

  • making disability discrimination claims

  • getting admission to a school or nursery after a child has been denied a place 

Law firms can also act on behalf of educational and training organisations too. There are lots of issues in this sector that can impact such organisations including financial constraints, government legislation and stakeholder scrutiny. Typical legal issues include: 

  • student accommodation projects

  • academic restructuring projects 

  • mergers and acquisitions and joint venture projects (when two or more education providers come together for some common project or merge their businesses) 

  • assisting with forming or joining a MAT (that's a 'multi-academy trust')

  • converting a school to an academy 

  • undertaking due diligence on an academy or school that wishes to joint a MAT

  • construction projects - building new facilities for a school or education provider 

  • assisting with school leadership and governance - how the school is run 

  • data protection and information sharing - schools hold a lot of personal data for students and parents 

  • commercial contracts - schools and education providers are regularly entering into contracts with other entities for the supply of services or other forms of collaboration 

  • finance - education providers need funding - lawyers will advise schools on how to trade and generate income and also assist them in their need to raise funds through finance 

  • employment and pension issues in connection with staff that work at the education or training provider 

Other legal issues that can arise in the education sector include dealing with academic misconduct and breach of contract (when a student is involved in some form of misconduct that results in them breaching their contract with the school/uni), bullying in schools, disciplinary issues, gifted and talented pupils, international students, plagiarism law, university fees and withdrawal from university (to name a few!). 

As you can see, the education sector spans across a variety of disciplines. Notably: 

  • Corporate

  • Governance 

  • Commercial 

  • Employment

  • Real Estate 

  • Banking and Finance 

  • Public Law and Human Rights 

Clients in this sector...

Clients will include:

  • private individuals - parents/students

  • independent schools 

  • academies 

  • further education colleges 

  • universities 

  • MATs (multi academy trusts) 

  • maintained schools

  • UK education investors 

Example legal cases

Burges Salmon advised a FTSE 100 company on its joint venture partnerships with public sector partners to deliver core school support services to schools in the UK. 

Mills & Reeve assisted Birmingham City University Academies Trust with the re-brokerage of an academy, involving the provision of corporate, commercial, employment and regulatory advice. 

Eversheds Sutherland advised a further education institution in relation to its conversion to a voluntary aided school managed by a local authority. 

Law firms to consider...