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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.

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.

Merger of two small multi-academy companies into one large MAC and conversion of one existing Catholic VA school

We advised two small Catholic multi-academy companies on their merger into one large MAC which included the transfer of seven existing Catholic academies from one MAC to another and the updating of all the legal documentation associated with all the academies involved.

We also advised on the simultaneous conversion to academy status of a remaining Catholic VA school into the merged MAC.

The project included significant employment, property, construction, commercial and governance issues as well as heightened interest from stakeholder groups and an emphasis on the continuing successful operation of all the academies and school during the transfer/conversion process.

A ground-breaking project for the entire Nottingham Diocese

Following a competitive tender process, we are appointed to advise Nottingham Diocese and its academies and schools on an innovative project to merge several Catholic academy trusts into four large CATs. The project involved the conversion of 24 Catholic voluntary aided schools, the transfer of 34 academies and the updating of documentation for 22 more academies. All elements of the project were completed on time and within budget.

Mark Blois

Mark Blois

Partner and Head of Education

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