The North East’s newest free school has opened its doors for the start of the school year with help from law firm Ward Hadaway.
The specialist education team at UK Top 100 law firm provided legal advice on the setting up of The Durham Free School.
The establishment of the school, which will initially open on the former site of Durham Gilesgate Sports College and Sixth Form Centre at Gilesgate in the city, is one of 12 education schemes to open this September which Ward Hadaway has advised on.
For The Durham Free School, Ward Hadaway advised on the constitution of the funding agreement for the new school, which caters for children aged 11 to 18.
Elsewhere in the North East, the firm advised Northern Education Trust on two academy conversions – Frederick Nattrass Primary School and The Oak Tree Primary School – both in Stockton-on-Tees.
The Northern Education Trust is a multi-academy trust which now operates a total of ten academies across the region.
As well as its work in the North East, the experienced team at Ward Hadaway has been in demand right across the country.
The team advised the Co-operative Academies Trust on the conversion of Oakwood Primary School in Leeds into an academy, a transition which involved dealing with premises built under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).
The team also advised School Partnership Trust Academies on the conversion of East Garforth Primary School in Leeds into an academy and on the conversion of the Pupil Referral Unit in Harrogate into an alternative provision academy.
Rounding off Ward Hadaway’s work in Yorkshire, the firm advised on the conversion of the Littleworth Grange Primary Learning Centre in Barnsley into an academy.
In the Midlands, Ward Hadaway advised Brooke Weston Trust on the conversion of Oakley Vale Primary School in Northamptonshire and advised School Partnership Trust Academies on the conversion of Leamington Primary School in Nottinghamshire.
Extending its reach into the South East, the firm has advised North Essex Multi-Academy Trust on the conversion of The Ramsey College in Braintree, Essex and, on the south coast, Ward Hadaway has advised on the conversion of Milford-on-Sea Church of England Primary School into an academy.
Graham Shaw, partner and head of the Education Team at Ward Hadaway, said: "We are delighted to have been able to assist on these latest projects, which will create new educational experiences for pupils and teachers right across the country.
"It is always rewarding to work with governing bodies, head teachers, sponsors and trusts on such projects and to ensure that the deadlines and requirements are met.
"These latest projects consolidate our position as leading advisers to the academies and free schools sectors, not just across the North but on a national basis.
"The variety of schemes – from primary and secondary schools to pupil referral units and schools with PFI premises - and the different organisations we have been working with, including multi-academy trusts and faith organisations, demonstrate our strong presence in the sector and the range of projects to which we can lend our expertise."
The specialist education team at Ward Hadaway was already highly experienced before taking on this latest programme of work and has now advised on over 170 academies across all phases and types of education provision.
The team has also worked on a number of ‘firsts’ in the sector, including advising on the first maintained school to convert to academy status, the first maintained school to convert to academy status under a multi-academy trust and one of the first academies to be sponsored by a registered social landlord.