Joely Charlton
Posted on 19 Feb 2021

Trainee blog: the Education seat

[Read time: 2 minutes}

When studying for a law degree, it's often difficult to appreciate the full breadth and scope of how the law is used and its practical implications. This was certainly my case. One area that I didn't come across during my studies, but Michelmores has particular expertise in, is Education law. I am currently undertaking my third seat with the Education team at Michelmores and have prepared a primer to introduce the topic.

Who are the clients?

The Education team primarily supports Multi-Academy and Single Academy Trusts who operate academy schools across the UK. Academy schools, unlike maintained schools who are supported by their Local Authority, receive their funding primarily from the Department for Education. The same rules in respect to maintained schools around OFSTED inspections, school admissions, special educational needs and exclusions apply to academies.

Academy trusts are not for profit companies and as such have a variety of legal and practical needs in order to run efficiently.

What would I be doing as a trainee in the Education team?

The Education seat is regarded as being extremely varied, giving you an excellent foundation in a diverse range of disciplines of law as well as providing trainees with a lot of responsibility. A typical day does not really exist in Education, but to give some examples of the work I've undertaken so far:

  • Assisting on the conversion of a maintained school to become an academy. The conversion of a school moving from local authority to an academy trust is essentially a corporate transaction. As a trainee you will assist with drafting the relevant legal documentation, conducting due diligence (both corporate and property) and helping the process to run as smoothly as possible.
  • Advising clients on company and charity law. Like all not for profit companies, trusts have certain obligations under company and charity law. Typical tasks will include checking a Trust's Articles of Association, getting re-acquainted with the Companies Act and advising clients on their best strategy.
  • Advising on employment and data protection questions. These are some of the most common questions received by the team at Michelmores. I spend a lot of time researching legal questions and working out how they apply in an educational context. This will often involve seeking the expertise of my colleagues in the Employment and Commercial teams.
  • Land and property. The team also specialises in advising clients about any issues they may have in relation to their land or the best way to optimise their property portfolio.

A note on Covid-19

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on all sectors, with companies needing to find new ways to operate under challenging trading conditions, and the Education sector is no exception. Schools across the country are currently grappling with a broad range of complex issues including operating a safe school for both staff and pupils, remote learning, virus testing and vaccinations.

Overall, I have really enjoyed my time in the Education team so far, and I would encourage successful applicants to Michelmores to consider the Education seat as part of their training contract.