Phil Watts discusses the Government White Paper on education to explore the question, to what extent could the proposals lead to a sea change in our education system.
Anthony Collins Solicitors provides a wide range of services to Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) and other educational establishments. These include establishing new MATs, adding a school to an existing MAT, transfers of academies between MATs, mergers, collaborations, contractual arrangements, disputes, property transactions, employment law issues and due diligence exercises.
When is a due diligence exercise required?
A due diligence exercise may be relevant in a number of circumstances, for example if a MAT is looking to merge or collaborate with another MAT and it wants to understand more about the structure and sustainability of the other MAT. Due diligence is of particular importance when a MAT is considering whether or not to allow a school to become part of the MAT family. In this case, the aim of the due diligence process is to provide the MAT with essential information about the school or academy wishing to join so that there are no unpleasant surprises afterwards which could have a detrimental impact on the MAT and its Academies. We have helped a number of MATs undertake different forms of due diligence. In some cases we have directly undertaken the due diligence for the MAT, and in others we have provided support in the background advising upon issues revealed by the due diligence process. We can, therefore, tailor the support we offer according to the in-house resource available to the MAT for this work.
Due Diligence Checklist
We have created a Due Diligence Checklist setting out the information a MAT should obtain to gain a sufficient understanding of the school or academy joining the MAT. Whilst the checklist is relatively comprehensive, it is not exhaustive since every MAT's due diligence process needs to have the flexibility to take into consideration local requirements or features. There may be some areas listed in the Due Diligence Checklist that don't apply in all cases, and there may be some circumstances where a MAT board is able to take a more relaxed approach. Our Due Diligence Checklist does, however, cover all of the areas that we consider will be relevant in the vast majority of academy conversions and transfers.
Our Due Diligence Checklist covers all of the major areas you need to consider including:
- Banking and finance
- Health and safety
- Information technology and data
- Intellectual property
- Litigation and disputes
The document deliberately focuses on legal issues and doesn't attempt to cover what might be described as 'educational due diligence'. There will, therefore, be other areas in relation to which the MAT requires information, for example, the latest OFSTED report, details of the school's vision, values and ethos, the school improvement plan, self-evaluation documents, special educational needs provision and so on. These additional areas should be considered alongside the areas set out in our legal Due Diligence Checklist.
We hope that our Due Diligence Checklist will prove a useful tool for you in the growth and development of your MAT. To request your free copy simply complete the form below.
For more information
If you have any questions or require any help with any form of due diligence process then please contact Christopher Whittington.
We have been working with Anthony Collins Solicitors over the last two years. Initially they guided our board in establishing the Trust and then have supported us throughout our development, including with extensive due diligence work as new schools have joined us. The employment team have also supported us through some complex staffing issues. ACS approach all our issues sensitively, supporting us to reach the right decision - always remembering our Christian values that drive us. The team at ACS go 'above and beyond' what would normally be expected of a firm of solicitors and it is clear that they are driven by moral purpose.Christopher Mansell, Birmingham Diocese Academies Trust
Helping teachers as people
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As a teacher, or a professional working in the education sector, there are multiple issues that you may face. Whilst we do offer advice about educating children from a variety of backgrounds in a safe and caring environment, we also offer advice to you as an individual. We understand that the pressures and numerous challenges facing those in charge are not always classroom based.
Education is one of our core sectors. This allows us to combine our specialist subject knowledge and experiences with our personal approach to individual cases. Our clients tell us that the service they receive from us is unique, and we believe this comes directly from our commitment to the purpose of our firm: 'to improve lives, communities and society’.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, much of the focus has been on shoring up existing delivery and, where possible, extending arrangements if it is not possible to re-procure.
Covid-19 has resulted, on the whole, in a marked co-operation between contracting authorities and their suppliers as everybody focuses on maintaining delivery as far as possible.
Newnham College, Cambridge, received a fine from the HSE in January for failings that exposed employees and subcontractors to asbestos during refurbishment works on a flat owned by the college.
On 1 April 2019, new rules will come into force concerning how academy trusts must deal with reporting related party transactions.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency has published its annual update of the Academies Financial Handbook, which became effective on 1 September 2018.