Thomson Snell & Passmore advised the Board of Governors of The Hayesbrook School in Tonbridge, Kent in connection with the conversion of the School to an Academy under the Academies Act 2010. The conversion took place with effect from 1 December 2010.
The Hayesbrook School, which has been rated outstanding by OfSTED inspectors in three successive OfSTED inspections, has over 930 students on roll from Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area. The school is a very popular wide-ability school, owing to its specialisms in sport, applied learning and teacher training, examination success and high standards of behaviour and discipline. Hayesbrook is also renowned for its success in relation to extra-curricular activities and for its support of other schools, both locally and nationally.
The Academies Act 2010 received Royal assent on 27 July 2010. As a result, the public bodies involved had limited time to familiarise themselves with the legislation or to understand the interaction between the Academies Act and existing legislation before large numbers of schools expressed an interest in conversion. The conversion process involves consideration of complex issues of company, education, property and employment law.
Lawyers from Thomson Snell & Passmore's Corporate & Commercial, Commercial Property and Employment teams were able to explain the provisions of the model documents supplied by the Department for Education, identify the key issues and work with the School, the Department for Education and Kent County Council to find workable solutions.
Debbie Coslett, Executive Headteacher of The Hayesbrook School commented: “The work of Thomson Snell & Passmore has been invaluable and the advice they have given us has been first rate. We could not have achieved our Academy status without them.”
James Partridge, Partner and Head of the Corporate & Commercial team at Thomson Snell & Passmore said: "Our team, comprising myself, Nick Hobden (Partner and Head of Employment), James Willis (Senior Associate, Employment) and Richard Gough (Senior Associate, Commercial Property) has been working very closely with Ian Daker (Chair of Governors), Debbie and the other members of the senior leadership team since early in the summer in connection with the School's proposed conversion to an Academy.
Early on in the process, we identified a number of areas where the interests of the School, the Department for Education and the Local Authority were not aligned. The fact that the School is, I think the first in West Kent to achieve Academy status under the new Academies regime is a testament to the dedication and commitment shown by all parties involved in the process to work together to achieve a positive outcome. We wish the pupils, staff and senior leadership team of The Hayesbrook School every success in the future".