Employment law and HR support for schools and colleges
Navigating the complexities and freeing up your valuable time and resources
For schools and colleges, navigating the complexities of employment law and HR issues can be challenging and can take up valuable time and resources. You may encounter difficulties with a staff member's performance or conduct, receive a grievance, need to make changes to employment terms, or even be considering redundancies. Our Education team can help and support you with all employment and HR concerns you may have, no matter how big or small.
Doyle Clayton started out over 20 years ago as a boutique employment law firm and we continue to specialise in advising all kinds of employers and employees on all aspects of employment and workplace law. Added to this, our education team are also experts in the education sector and are experienced in supporting schools and colleges in these areas - from advising on teacher notice periods to queries about holiday pay, we know your sector and your priorities and concerns.
Issues our Education team regularly advises on include:
- Managing staff redundancies and changes to their terms and conditions, including pay cuts
- Dealing with employee issues such as poor performance, sickness absence, disciplinary issues, grievances and dismissals
- Handling off the record discussions with staff and drafting settlement agreements
- Answering day-to-day queries on issues like giving notice of termination, flexible working requests and holiday pay issues
- Advising on the risk of claims from employees including for unfair dismissal and discrimination
- Supporting schools and colleges with any Employment Tribunal claims, from responding to the claim right up to the final hearing
Recent examples of the employment issues we have supported schools with are:
- Advising a large HMC school about ending their furloughing arrangements
- Advising a Prep school about changing teachers’ terms and conditions – including moving to part-time working and salary reductions
- Advising a large academy chain on its employment contracts and governance arrangements – including its obligations under the Companies Act and Charity law
- Advising an independent school in relation to a redundancy process
- Advising an academy about the removal of their underperforming Headteacher
- Supporting an independent school on the dismissal of a teacher following safeguarding concerns
- Defending a large sixth form college in an employment tribunal claim for sex and race discrimination
Our People consultancy practice provides unmatched practical HR support. All of our HR consultants have personally led the transformation of HR into effective business partnering teams putting people development at the centre of sustained growth and success. Our People Consulting team is experienced in running disciplinary and grievance investigations and hearings for schools and can attend and conduct meetings for you if you need hands-on HR support.
So if your school or college doesn’t have a dedicated HR team or you just need some support with a complex HR matter, we’re here to help.
Why use Doyle Clayton?
As well as providing high quality, timely and practical legal advice that is tailored to your school or college, we believe that the following sets us apart from other law firms:
- We act for both schools and individuals in the education sector. Our education team is unique in advising both employers and individuals. We act for schools, education representative bodies (both associations and unions) and examination boards as well as senior individuals in the sector. This provides us with a unique insight into the broad and connected issues that organisations in the education sector regularly encounter which many law firm education teams working solely for schools do not have experience of.
- High quality service that is recognised in The Legal 500. Our team of specialist education solicitors is ranked in the top tier by The Legal 500. Our Head of Education, Simon Henthorn, is also ranked as a Leading Individual and Liz Timmins (Legal Director) is ranked as a recommended lawyer in the education sector. You will always be advised by an expert - we do not have trainees or paralegals.
- We are education law specialists. Our education team supports many different educational institutions with their legal, HR and compliance issues, so we understand the challenges you face. Our team includes lawyers who are governors, plus those who have worked in-house at colleges and as a Home Office compliance officers. The team also has a specialist SEND capability led by Amara Ahmad.
- We understand the education sector. We work closely with education associations including IAPS, ISBA, the AoC and UKCISA and attend and present at their annual conferences. We also regularly deliver training sessions for these associations.
- Trusted adviser for over 60 schools and colleges. We work with over 60 schools across the UK, ranging from independent schools, sixth for colleges, maintained schools and multi-academy trusts. In many cases we are the school’s sole and only source of legal advice. Whilst some of our competitors act for many more schools, the size of our client base enables us to provide a dedicated and focused service. You will not be handed round to different lawyers. We really pride ourselves on our ability to develop strong long-term relationships with our schools, as can be seen from the client testimonials below.
The team is lead by Simon Henthorn. He is well known for his work in the education sector, and recommended by Chambers Guide to the UK Legal Profession for being “very easy to deal with” and “very knowledgeable”. Simon is a governor of St Stephen’s School in Twickenham.
Click here to meet some of our Education team.
Don’t just take our word for it! Here are some examples of recent feedback from The Legal 500 and from our clients:
- "The education team at Doyle Clayton are true specialists in employment matters in the education sector, and they understand how education law interacts with the employment of academics and teachers. In my opinion, they are the go-to firm for professors, lecturers, and headteachers with employment disputes."
- “The (Education) team is excellent. Everyone we have worked with are approachable, friendly and engaging".
- “I found the (Education) team very responsive, thorough and very good value for money. I would happily use them again and also would recommend them to others.”
- "They are a strong team. Enthusiastic, resourceful, personable, and experienced."
- "Doyle Clayton's impressive' education practice is singled out for its dual employment and education law expertise, and its ability to offer clients comprehensive advice on safeguarding, pastoral care issues and dismissals. The team is led by Simon Henthorn, who has over 15 years of experience in the sector, and is praised for 'cutting through the 'bluster' and bringing 'common sense to where it is lacking.' The group handles sensitive matters for headteachers, senior staff, and schools. Elizabeth Timmins specialises in providing immigration law advice to schools and colleges."
- “Simon Henthorn is an outstanding lawyer, articulate, knowledgeable, courteous and a pleasure to work with.”
- “Doyle Clayton, and in particular Simon Henthorn, has been an especially good, helpful and straightforward source of advice and support. He has an excellent understanding of both legal issues and the context within which we operate. He is intelligent, proactive and creative in suggesting possible solutions to problems. A really safe pair of hands and a trusted source of both tactical and strategic advice and guidance.”
- "Simon Henthorn, the Head of the Education team, is unparalleled. He knows the education sector like the back of his hand, he has a good strategic mind for a case and he is excellent with clients. He radiates decency and inspires confidence. I worked with him on a very complex case involving a client with significant health needs, and he went above and beyond for the client.
- "Simon Henthorn has forensic attention to detail and exceptional work ethic which gets the best results for his clients. Innovative and courteous, he is a very capable lawyer.’ ‘Simon Henthorn is a first-rate practitioner. He is a pleasure to work with and is experienced and dedicated."
- “Simon (Henthorn) is a calm, thoughtful and measured professional. He is approachable, amiable and willing to engage whenever we have asked. Simon’s work with us on individual cases has impressed us. Simon has had excellent evaluations, and we have found him to be highly effective in summarising situations as well as providing both a pragmatic and clear legal understanding of case law. I am pleased that Simon retains an extremely positive relationship with us, and we very much hope to utilise his skills again in the future. Simon was able to provide expert advice in a clam and supportive way. He facilitated the checking of settlement agreements and provided an outstanding service, which at times had extremely short deadlines for turn around. I have not had reason to consider any weaknesses in either the work of Simon or Doyle Clayton.”
- “We have been very impressed with the support provided by Liz (Timmins). She is very professional, diligent and thorough and we appreciated the regular updates regarding the status of matters. She is commercially astute and very easy to deal with. We have nothing but praise and recommendation for Liz and would have no hesitation in recommending Doyle Clayton and Liz to our clients.”