9. Joanne Burton and Ciaira Campfield of solicitors Stone King

Reading Time: 2 minutes

On this episode Tim Warneford is in Bath where he is talking to Joanne Burton and Ciaira Campfield from solicitors, Stone King, a law firm that has supported over 400 schools nationally who have converted to academy status.


On this episode we cover:


Partner in Commercial Property Team

Partner in Education Team

Stone King being one of the leading firms in a niche sector

Working on academy brokerage, academy conversions and more

Joanna starting in July 2010 when the academies act coming into being

Joanna travelling aboard building schools for charity

Previously working

Ciara starting in a large international law firm

Wanting to work at a law firm that had its heart and soul in education

Stone King living and breathing education and charity

Not entering in the politics of academisation as lawyers

Seeing some schools go from strength to strength under the MAT system

Seeing success in the way some MATs are sharing best practice

Increased emphasis on good estate management for schools

Surveyors and funding experts seeing so many schools transfer without due diligence and appreciation of what things will be like under a market environment

All schools needing to make best of existing resources

How the 14000 schools yet to academise can benefit from others experience

Concerns about the funding the sector gets

Very difficult for academies to set a budget

Undertaking rebrokerage for clients – working out where they can add value

MATs not having the funds to pay huge professional service fees

Collaboration being the key to success of the sector

MATs been historically more insular, now collaborating more

Head teachers making emotional decisions about the school

The importance of getting specialists together early for efficiency and to highlight risks

Public procurement and advising clients over commercial contracts

Working with retainer clients on a day to day basis

Often being the first port of call

Collaborating with Beth Cullen, Commercial Director of the Institute of School Business Leadership

Potentially serious liabilities of clients – such as asbestos

Focusing on estates management support at a very early stage

Not all estates having an ‘estates team’

Schools often working on reactive maintenance

Stone King treating themselves as an in-house lawyer for their clients

Brand new ideas and innovative thought coming into the sector

The importance of mitigating risk with planning

A move towards selling off land for landing and more facilities

Using Section 106 money to help schools

The ESFA being more open to discussion than previously

CIF being cut by £81m in 2019-08-10

The frustration of regulations slowing the speed of planning and selling off land

The risk not being as high for an academy conversion than a rebrokerage

Government policy being difficult to predict

Current government wanting more schools to academise

A recognition that more funding is needed in the sector

Increase in FE and Academy Sector sharing best practice

Negative stories about academies in the press causing fear in the sector

Many academy success stories

The importance of feeding into the ESFA process

Stone King’s forum for MAT clients

The sector being constantly evolving