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The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)

Empowering educational equality

Throughout a long-standing pro bono collaboration, Freshfields has provided comprehensive advice and support to the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). Our partnership with the EEF has enabled them to tackle education inequality and improve the educational attainment of children from less economically privileged backgrounds.

The Education Endowment Foundation is an independent UK charity dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. Set up in 2011 with an endowment fund of £125m from the Department for Education (DfE), it utilises an evidence-based approach to supporting schools, nurseries and colleges to improve teaching and learning for young people.

The EEF’s mission to give every child – whatever their socio-economic background – access to a great education strongly aligns with our aim of having the greatest possible impact on access to opportunity for children, one of our target groups.

Starting in 2011 when the pro bono team first developed a relationship with the EEF, we have advised on a range of matters spanning the full spectrum of legal advice: from reviewing grant agreements to providing commercial, licencing and data privacy advice, as well as assisting on truly existential issues for the EEF.

Making a lasting impact

In 2022, we assisted with the negotiation of a re-endowment grant of £137m from the DfE. This was crucial in ensuring that EEF maintained its role as a central part of the education landscape for at least the next decade

A cross-practice team provided commercial, IP, data protection, procurement and regulatory support in re-negotiating the grant with the DfE. The team made sure the endowment was drafted in such a way that it could be topped-up relatively easily, ensuring the EEF could access further funds for future projects. Freshfields also advised the EEF in setting up template grant agreements, simplifying the process for other organisations to access EEF funds.

Professor Becky Francis, EEF’s Chief Executive, said: ‘Many thanks to all at Freshfields who have supported the EEF with your thoughtful expert advice. You have made an enormous difference to our work by helping us secure the endowment on the best terms possible and then also supporting us to operationalise these new terms into all of our grant making activity.’  

Freshfields also played a pivotal role in helping the EEF to secure additional funding through the UK government's Accelerator Fund, which aims to support schools in areas of the UK particularly impacted by the covid-19 pandemic. EEF grant funding under this initiative has focused on supporting schools with evidence-based maths and literacy programmes to aid their recovery supporting over 1,500 schools in 2021-22.

Peter Allen, Partner in our Global Transactions group says, ‘Over our decade-long partnership, our lawyers have been able to work closely with EEF to help with many aspects of their work. It’s been particularly inspiring to see how the funding we’ve helped them access has allowed EEF to have such impact, through its programmes, on raising education attainment in the UK.’

Promoting educational equality globally

Recognising the importance of the EEF's Teaching and Learning toolkit, which provides research-driven resources to teachers and schools, we have provided long term intellectual property advice to help EEF safeguard their valuable content and explore licensing opportunities for wider impact.

Driven by the shared goal of promoting educational equality globally, EEF license their Teaching and Learning Toolkit for use in other countries. Freshfields has supported the EEF in this endeavour, collaborating with various public and private organisations in Australia, Canada, Chile, Spain, Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria, which expressed interest in adopting the toolkit. Our legal guidance has enabled the EEF to navigate the complexities of international licencing, opening doors for the distribution of their invaluable educational materials, research and expertise beyond the UK.

Professor Becky Francis, Chief Executive of EEF said of Freshfields, ‘It is hard to express how crucial Freshfields’ ongoing input has been to the EEF operation and how very much we value it. Freshfields’ expertise, and the quality and responsiveness of advice from your team, has been fundamental in securing the processes and partnerships on which our success is built.’