Education

  • Overview

    Comprehensive legal services for the education sector, from private and state schools to sixth form and further education colleges and universities in the UK and internationally.

    With increasing regulation and competition, the education sector is facing unique challenges and growing change, making interaction with other education institutions and the private sector vital.

    Our dedicated Education team brings together specialist expertise to provide a complete solution both in the UK and overseas in increasingly important markets.

    We always take a bespoke approach, spending time with you to understand your issues and priorities, passing on best practice and insights through regular briefings and workshops and, most of all, personal engagement. That’s why we believe we provide unrivalled support and value for money.

    Higher and further education

    Our deep knowledge of the Higher Education sector gives us a sharp insight into the issues you face, enabling us to provide pioneering legal solutions to help you address them head on.

    Team members have held a variety of in-house posts in Universities and thanks to our full range of legal services tailored specifically to higher education institutions and strong history of working with FE and HE, clients can be sure to receive a truly focussed service.

    Examples include:

    1. We advise HE Institutions on contentious student issues and the idea of the student as a consumer. We are especially skilled in dealing with complaints involving Equality Act issues. Examples of recent advice:

      • We undertook a comprehensive review of a number of student discipline cases involving fitness to study procedures for one university client;
      • We advised in respect of a student who was being investigated by the police in relation to an alleged serious sexual assault against two other students studying at the same institution. We provided advice in relation to bail conditions and how the university could manage both on and off campus study for the accused;
      • A former student was sued by one of our clients for unpaid fees. In defending the claim, the student also brought a counterclaim alleging discrimination on the basis of failure to implement reasonable adjustments. We obtained summary judgment on the debt claim, a strike-out of the counter claim and a costs order in the University’s favour; and
      • Undertaking a detailed review of a university’s Student Discipline Procedure. The advice also dealt with the appropriate management of criminal offences to accord with the Zellick principles.

    2. We advised QMUL on the establishment of a medical school in Malta. Funded initially by the Maltese Government and based on the island of Gozo, the school provides a teaching programme delivered by staff from QMUL’s Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

      The school was built to QMUL’s specification. QMUL will enter into an agreed form lease on practical completion of the building for an initial term of 15 years. We advised on the education, construction, real estate and commercial aspects.

    3. We advised on the establishment of the Northern Health Science Alliance. The NHSA was established as a company by eight leading Universities and eight NHS Hospital Trusts in the North of England, linking with the newly formed Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) to act as a single portal bringing together research, health science innovation and commercialisation to provide benefits for researchers, universities, hospitals, patients as well as commercial partners. We advised the directors on the appropriate structure and corporate governance arrangements, drafted communications with members and drafted/completed the articles of association and members agreement.

    4. We have advised universities on a range of contract/discrimination issues where these arise out of student status or where there is a crossover between student and employment status. Examples:

      • Advice provided to a University wishing to set up a degree course overseas but within a jurisdiction which does not permit people who are HIV positive to remain on a long term basis. Potential Equality issues for students and staff.
      • Advice provided to a University in dealing with claims made by a mature student who was unsuccessful in application for part time employment at the University and raised claims of age discrimination.
      • Advice provided in relation to secondee students facing misconduct allegations employed by the Student Union but remaining under the student policies and procedures of the University.

    Schools

    We provide a full support service to independent schools, co-operative schools, local authority maintained schools and academies.

    Through our Support for Schools service, we provide all the expert legal and HR advice you'll need throughout the school year. Our team includes ex-local government solicitors with a unique understanding of the intense scrutiny under which this sector operates.

    Education training

    We offer a wide range of bespoke training programmes, tailored specifically to meet the individual needs of higher education institutions. Training covers the full spectrum of legal requirements across:

    • Specialist education services
    • Halls of residence discipline
    • Corporate and commercial
    • Employment and HR
    • Estates.

    Related publications

    Services Testimonials

    Weightmans LLP’s 'excellent' team utilises its 'wide breadth and depth of knowledge' to assist clients with high-profile strategic developments such as joint academic programmes abroad, research partnerships and the implementation of technology projects.

    Legal 500 2017

    Weightmans LLP’s team provides 'concise and very useful advice'.

    Legal 500 2017

    They are very proactive and great at delivering what they have said they would in a timely manner. I am extremely happy with the service we get from them. One of the things I like is that they are very responsive - I am able to have good access to the right people.

    Chambers & Partners 2016

    Weightmans LLP, which provides an 'outstanding' service, has a strong reputation for projects work, and advised the University of West London on outsourcing the client's catering and facilities management operations. The group noted an increase in instructions to handle student complaints, and defended London Metropolitan University in a protracted student complaint and academic appeal. With 'a range of experience in the higher education sector', the 'truly brilliant' team at Weightmans LLP gives 'speedy' and 'pragmatic' advice, and acts for clients such as Liverpool Hope University, University of Liverpool and UCLAN.

    Legal 500 2015

    For their responsiveness, clarity of legal advice, value for money and quality of client care, Weightmans provides an outstanding service across a wide range of legal disciplines - they are my 'go to' lawyers in all circumstances.

    University Secretary, 2013
    Publications

    Public sector pensions – two key developments

    This month has seen two key developments that are likely to have a wide-reaching ongoing impact on public sector pensions.

    Jane Marshall
    Jane Marshall Partner
    News

    Four promoted to Equity Partnership at Weightmans

    National law firm Weightmans has welcomed four Partners to Equity in the latest round of promotions.

    John Schorah
    John Schorah Managing Partner

    Insights

    Brexit in a page - what you need to know.

    Brexit expert Jacqui Bickerton summarises all you need to know about the discussions in Parliament this week.

    Jacqui Bickerton
    Jacqui Bickerton Principal Associate

    News

    Weightmans lawyer appointed as Judge of the First-tier Tribunal

    Weightmans is pleased to announce that Morris Hill has been appointed as a part-time Judge of the First-tier Tribunal.

    Morris Hill
    Morris Hill Legal Director

    News

    LEGAL COMMENT: British Airways cyber attack

    British Airways has announced a 'sophisticated and malicious' cyber attack, where for 16 days hackers were able to retrieve customer data from both…

    Ed Lewis
    Ed Lewis Partner

    Insights

    When court and classroom meet

    As a new school year gets underway, teachers and management staff may unwittingly find themselves involved in disputes between separated parents.

    Lottie Tyler
    Lottie Tyler Principal Associate

    Insights

    Public sector case law update

    With numerous important judgements passed recently, we have summarised recent cases with links provided to the full judgments and our legal updates…

    Peter Wake
    Peter Wake Partner

    Insights

    The Carillion Avalanche

    There has been a great deal of commentary and analysis hitting the press and social media since we all woke up on the morning of Monday 15th January…


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