6. Jaime Hobday and Robin Rajanah of solicitors VWVV

Reading Time: 2 minutes

For this episode Tim Warneford travels to Bristol, to speak to one of the most successful academy sector firms of solicitors, VWV and to Jaime Hobday and Robin Rajanah about their experience in supporting academies and also their vision for the future of the sector. 


On this episode we cover:

How they both became involved in education

The strengths and weaknesses of LEA schools versus academy schools

Academies having to learn on the job and quite quickly

Managing one school being very different to multiple

Academy staff becoming more savvy

Universities starting from a higher and more significant estate portfolio

Being politically easier to dispose of land in higher or further education than for schools and academies

The continually frustration of academy with having to apply for consent to dispose of land

Successes over the last ten years

The early converters being in the dark about how to convert

Academies working for schools that need improvement

Schools in academies awareness of property issues and opportunities growing

Skills within these schools grown significantly

Where education has been successfully cascaded down in academies

Hosting events to create opportunities to get people to talk about their experiences

Often inking clients and contacts together at the firm

Being a good amount of humility in the sector with learning new skills

Close to 80% of secondary schools having transferred to academies

Researching schools to assess their needs

How regional school commissioners prefer schools to be in larger MATs – four schools upwards – particularly with primaries

Inconsistency across LEAs about the conversion process

The challenges and benefits of land disposal

Secondary schools in Bedfordshire selling off farms

Advising schools to talk to the EFSA as soon as they can

Land disposal helping with the housing shortage

Frustrations about the speed at which re-brokerages and sponsored conversions have to be completed

Lack of time meaning less time for due diligence

Assessing the finances and deficit position key to first step

How schools need to be educated in what the risks and liabilities look like

Conferences being a good way of doing this

Regular communication with other organisations – such as Lloyds – helping with sector knowledge

A large part of their service being about doing the things needed before they need them

The DFE using conversion to formalise processes

Holding a kick off meeting with new conversion clients

Making legal concepts easier to understand

Poor condition surveys

Jaime’s passion for governance, finding out their ethos and helping them really understand their vision

Robin’s wish to help academy trusts make the most of their estate

The more fit for purpose the estate and facilities, the better the opportunities for the children