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Education: Schools

Our HR Rely education specialists have an in-depth understanding of how schools operate, the unique challenges that educators face and the level of service schools require.

We act for a diverse profile of hundreds of schools, including independent schools, academies, Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) local education authority maintained schools, and further education colleges. We have links with Local Authorities which informs our approach.

Our team

Our dedicated education employment team offers a wealth of specialist, sector-specific knowledge and experience to help you resolve any employment or personnel issues arising in your school.

We have broad experience in supporting Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) with complex and strategic issues arising from funding opportunities, TUPE and the challenges that can arise when responding to government policy. We have a specialist SEND team who routinely advise on relevant issues and prepare and conduct claims in the First Tier SEND Tribunal. When concerns arise, our specialist Safeguarding team can advise on emergency measures and the legal framework. Our Education lawyers frequently work with schools to defend discrimination and breach of statutory duty claims.

Several of our team are former Local Authority lawyers, and others have undertaken secondments in the education/children’s services departments of local authorities. Many of our staff are Governors of schools. We appreciate the daily pressures that schools contend with and can support you to with the multiple challenges of managing a successful and efficient educational environment.

We appreciate that maintaining excellent standards of teaching and learning will always take priority, and that any employment issues that might detract from this must be dealt with promptly and discreetly, taking into the account the best interests of pupils, parents, and staff.

Our employment experts can also draw on the firm’s broader Education Service, to provide seamless, comprehensive legal advice on a range of issues including academy conversions and transfers, pupil affairs including admissions and exclusions, governance issues, and all aspects of property law.

Our service

We deliver a high-quality personal service to your managers and HR professionals, ensuring we give practically focused, strategic advice. This can include advice on managing relationships with unions and handling your public communications.

Your Client Relationship Owner (CRO) will ensure total continuity of service. They will work to understand your key strategic aims, and tailor our approach to meet your needs. Your CRO will focus on supporting your business to achieve your objectives within costs agreed with you.

Our HR Rely team is flexible, available and supports our clients to address their issues confidently and quickly. Our service is demand-led to meet significant peaks and troughs of activity.


We operate a dedicated HR helpline service to answer any day-to-day queries that arise. We find that the majority of issues fall with the scope of the retainer and that our early advice helps to mitigate against bigger issues down the line. Our advisers will act as a ‘sounding board’ to your in-house HR specialists, to confirm that your business is on the right track, or to provide a crucial steer when needed.

You can choose whether you want your HR team to liaise with us every time, or whether you would prefer to free-up valuable HR time by asking us to support your managers directly. Either way, our advisors will be on the lookout for any recurring issues and provide upskilling tips to help you grow.

Employment tribunals

Whilst we work with you closely to avoid employment tribunal claims, they will inevitably, occasionally arise. You can be assured that, at the outset of each case, we will review the claim and advise on the legal issues and the relevant evidence that needs to be collated, as well as identifying the witnesses. As early as is reasonably practicable, we provide an initial assessment of the merits and potential quantum of compensation as well as giving advice about other relevant factors such as potential reputational damage, policy, and strategic implications.

Complex work for schools

The range of our recent work with schools covers all aspects of employment relations and employment law advice. Recent examples include:

  • Design and review of school policies, procedures, and contracts
  • Advice around atypical working arrangements, such as term-time only contracts – and common problems such as working out annual leave and pay entitlements.
  • Staffing issues including grievance, discipline, capability, and attendance management (including advising on confidential/sensitive issues arising from senior staff member grievances).
  • Advising on staff concerns following complaints and/or threats made by parents.
  • Staffing projects including restructuring and redundancy
  • Best practice advice around information sharing, GDPR and Data Protection.
  • Preparing and defending complex employment tribunal claims involving unfair dismissal, redundancy, discrimination, protected disclosures, and many other issues.
  • Advising re SEND issues and representing schools in the First Tier SEND Tribunal.
  • Advising on employment issues arising from Academy conversion and creation of Multi Academy Trusts (MATs)

Our three-tier menu offering enables you to choose the right support package that works for best for your business. Your CRO will be able to help guide you through the process.

Susan  Matthews
Principal Associate

Susan Matthews

  • +44 (0)113 213 4013

What our clients say

Chambers & Partners 2022
The team is extremely good at tactical aspects of the police law and really understands the clients at an intrinsic level.
Chambers & Partners 2022
Leading police practice acting for forces across the country on inquests and judicial reviews, public liability claims and claims of human rights abuses. Frequently acts on claims for assault and malicious prosecution.
Chambers and Partners 2021
Weightmans are well known and respected in this area.
Chambers and Partners 2021
They respond well to the client's requests.
Chambers and Partners 2021
The firm are easy to communicate with and deal with any queries in a timely manner.

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