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Catholic school case studies

Our experienced team have been instructed by hundreds of Catholic schools on various matters over many years. Below are some recent case studies:

Creation of the first Catholic multi-academy trust in the country

In 2011 we acted for The Becket School, Blessed Robert Widmerpool Catholic Voluntary Academy, St. Edmund Campion School, a Catholic Voluntary Academy and Our Lady and St. Edward’s Catholic Voluntary Academy in Nottingham, on their conversion to academy status as part of the first Catholic multi-academy trust in the country. Working in partnership with the Diocese, schools and the Department for Education we drafted and advised both the Diocese of Nottingham and each of the schools on the governance, funding and property documents for the new academy trust to ensure that the academies gained the freedoms of academy status whilst preserving the unique characteristics of Catholic schools.

Advising a Catholic Diocese, school trustees and governing body in relation to construction contracts and development agreements as part of a Building Schools for the Future (BSF) project

We have advised a Catholic Diocese, the school trustees and governing body in Leicester in relation to the construction contractual documents and development agreement as part of a Building Schools for the Future (BSF) project. Matters were extremely time critical so as to ensure that the governing body agreements could be entered into in order to guarantee the BSF funding. Our work involved the review and negotiation of the development agreement and underlying building contract and reporting to the school on its duties under the development agreement. We also advised the school on the procurement of the collateral warranties from the contractors and design team to ensure that the new academy had a direct contractual link back to those who designed and constructed the buildings.

Acting for a Catholic School and Diocese in relation to a land swap as part of a development project.

We acted for a Catholic School and Diocese in relation to a land swap as part of a development project. The design of the new build was such that a land swap with a neighbouring free school was required in order to accommodate the footprint of the build. The land to be transferred by the free school to the Diocese was subject to overage provisions benefiting a third party, and required the Diocese to enter into a deed of covenant to comply with the terms of that overage insofar as they affected the land in question. The Diocese required a further deed of covenant from the governing body of the school whereby they too would comply with the terms of the overage and indemnify the Diocese in that regard. The free school also required the consent of the Secretary of State for Education to be able to transfer the land to the Diocese. This required having to obtain a release of a legal charge over the land being transferred to the Diocese, and amendment of the free school’s funding agreement.

Formation of Catholic multi-academy trust to support converter and sponsored academies

Together with the Diocese of Middlesbrough, we have supported two leading Catholic primary schools in Hull to simultaneously convert to academy status and sponsor a third Catholic primary school in the city. We supported the schools through the process of applying for and achieving sponsor accreditation and working with the schools, the Diocese and the DfE to produce a governance structure and legal documentation suitable to their needs. On the 1 June 2014, the sponsor and sponsored schools converted to Catholic academy status as part of a bespoke Catholic multi-academy trust. Following the creation of the multi-academy trust, we also advised a fourth converter Catholic school wishing to join group and ensured a seamless conversion to academy status on the 1 January 2015.

Catholic Diocesan sponsorship solution for schools in difficulty

We have developed a sponsorship models for several Catholic Diocese to enable them to sponsor schools in difficulty where the Department for Education is pressing for academisation. Through this sponsor vehicle, the Bishop is able to retain governance control over both the sponsor and academy, access necessary funding streams and call upon the expertise of key individuals within the Diocese, Diocesan schools and external experts. The sponsor vehicle is able to provide bespoke support to the sponsored schools rather than a generic 'one size fits all' approach, whilst the school can see a clear improvement plan which has independence of the sponsor as its ultimate goal.

Advising Westminster Diocese in relation to a charity holding land for the purposes of a Catholic school

We advised Westminster Diocese, the sole trustee of a long-standing charity holding land used by a Catholic secondary school. Our advice related to the interpretation of a governing document from 1911 in the light of recent updates to education law. We were able to provide the Diocese with practical guidance on which sections of the governing document were still in force, which had been superseded by legislation and how to update the document to make it more relevant to the modern educational landscape. In turn the Diocese was able to support the secondary school’s conversion to academy status, confident that they could continue to make land available to the school post-conversion.

Representing a Catholic School in relation to a complex harassment and discrimination tribunal claim brought by a teaching assistant

We represented a catholic primary school in relation to an employment tribunal claim brought against the head teacher. The claimant was a teaching assistant who had brought a number of grievances that had been heard by the governors and not upheld. The claim alleged that the head had bullied the claimant and that her actions towards her had been discriminatory on the basis of her race. She identified specific allegations spanning over five years which would have required most of the school staff to be witnesses. We advised the school that they had strong prospects of succeeding in their defence and therefore they instructed us to proceeded to defend the claim robustly. The claimant was claiming thousands of pounds in compensation but ultimately withdrew her claim when it was made clear to her through our representation that the School was not going to pay her to settle the claim.

Mark Blois

Mark Blois

Partner and Head of Education

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