How we can help you

A wealth of experience and knowledge

Our expert team has extensive experience advising education providers on a wide range of construction issues including obtaining regulatory and stakeholder approvals, the political drivers for funding streams and the need for tight project and risk management to ensure that the provision of education isn't disrupted. We also have extensive experience supporting clients to procure capital projects.

We advise across the breadth of organisations engaged in construction and capital projects in the education sector, including education providers, local authorities, building contractors and consultants meaning we are well placed to support you on any construction issue you may have.

A reputation in the education sector

We are ideally placed to support you because:

  • Helping schools flourish is at the heart of our team’s work. We have acted for over 500 schools, academies and Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) across the country and understand the needs and requirements of the sector;
  • We are nationally recognised education law experts, trusted by schools, academies, education providers and dioceses across the country;
    Our relationship with the Department for Education (DfE) is excellent across all levels. This enables us to access decision-makers quickly and effectively for your benefit;
  • We have a national construction practice and regularly advise clients in the education sector;
  • We think innovatively and across sectors when advising educational institutions on options to enable them to fulfil their purposes and mission;
  • We are a purpose-driven law firm, dedicated to “transforming lives, communities and society” through the way we work and who we choose to work with.

Our services are available to you

Our construction and education legal services can be called off from the Crown Commercial Services “WPS Legal Services” framework by public sector organisations. Further details on the framework are available here and we would be happy to support you should you wish to procure our services.

Procuring works in the education sector: our top tips

1. Be clear on what you want. Being clear from the start on the scope of works you need and the budget you have to achieve this will be critical to the success of your project.

2. Consider practical implications. Construction works can be very disruptive. To manage disruptions, consider at the outset whether the works will disrupt all or part of your school activities, when you will need the work to be done by and what impact on your school operations delay could have. Also consider any neighbours and/or landlords that could be affected by the works and who you have a responsibility to consult or reach agreement with. Needs and risks can be managed through the right building contract.

3. Understand what internal resource you have, and what external resource you need. A building project most often needs:

  • Professional design services such as from an architect, structural engineer, mechanical and electrical engineer, landscape architect etc.
  • Contract administration / project management services to administer your building contract.
  • Support in relation to health and safety and The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 from a principal designer and principal contractor.
  • Building contractor to undertake the works, which is itself likely to subcontract the smaller works packages to other trades.

Where you can’t fill any of those roles within your own organisation, you will need to contract with others to get the external support you need.

4. Get advice on what type of building contract fits your needs. Once you are clear on the things that are most important to you and on who you need to employ to achieve that, you will need to find the right contract structure to suit your needs. This may be through a “traditional” approach where you employ professional consultants to carry out the design and a contractor to do the works, giving you real control over the design and specification of your project. However, if you don’t have the resource to manage so many contracts and would like one party to be responsible for all design and works, you may prefer a “design and build” arrangement where the building contractor is employed for both.

5. Ensure your contractor and professional team hold the right insurances. You need to ensure the right insurances are in place down your supply chain so that if something goes wrong which is their fault, they have the right insurance to back-up any claim.

6. “Industry standard” may not be good enough! “Off-the-shelf” construction contracts rarely afford the protection that is appropriate for a publicly funded education provider unless appropriately amended. Most bidders for significant works contracts are used to bidding against a “Schedule of Amendments” to such a standard form of contract.

7. De-escalate disputes if and when they arise. Unfortunately, disputes can be commonplace on building projects and can become serious very quickly due to the availability of adjudication as a means of dispute resolution. Strategic legal advice sought before a dispute escalates can help significantly reduce unnecessary costs.

8. Secure the support you need to ensure your construction contract is a success. Experienced professional support, including from specialist legal advisers, can support from start to finish on a building project to ensure it is a success. Investing in that support can ultimately save significant cost and resource.

Get in touch

If you have any questions, please contact:

Andrew Lancaster

Richard Brooks

Martin Brown