All aboard, we're about to pick up the pace!

Mar 11, 2016

We are back and things are moving fast! Our site is close to being announced, we have identified two new roles on our Steering Committee and we are advertising for our first Head Teacher.

This is the first blog post in quite some time. The first since we applied to delay our opening, in fact. This is no coincidence. The work involved in opening a new school is pretty relentless. The adrenaline keeps you going – the frequent deadlines to submit plans and paperwork to the Department for Education, the wrangling and milestones with the Education Funding Agency over the site. So when you delay, and the adrenaline is reduced, you collapse in a heap.

But now we’re back, and things are about to get rather exciting.

There are several really big milestones for any new school. And two of the biggest are undoubtedly securing the site and the new head teacher. We expect to secure both of these in the next two months.

Our marvellous, mystery site

Back in December, when we made the heart breaking decision to delay our opening until 2017 in order to secure our perfect site, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) told us that we should expect to be able to announce the site in late January. It turns out that was a little optimistic. For whilst an agreement has been made – in principle – on the site, there are the most ridiculous number of internal hurdles, paperwork and goodness only knows what else that need to be sorted out before contracts can be exchanged and we can announce. Every time I have anything to do with the EFA and DfE I thank my lucky stars I am not a civil servant. How people working there stay sane I do not know…

The good news is that we have now waded through all the gumf and have an expected exchange-of-contracts date in just a few weeks (I’m not going to give you a date, because that would just be tempting fate now, wouldn’t it?!).

But, once we announce the site, things will get really busy. We will be working with the EFA to draw up the school building plans as quickly as possible, and will need to work with both our supporters and the local neighbours to do that. So, with this in mind we have identified some new roles on our Steering Committee to help – one to help us to make decisions about the design of the school, both inside and out (we will be given a set of options from the EFA) and another to work with the local media and build our community relationships.

If you think you might have the skills to help with either of these, take a look at the role descriptions.

Our first Head Teacher

Finding a new Head Teacher is never easy. There’s a national shortage for a start, which means that even nice, established schools are struggling. And we’re not a nice, established school. We’re setting everything up from scratch.

Then add to the fact that we can’t actually tell prospective Heads where they’ll be working (it’s a site in the North West of the borough of Harrow, with green space. That’s it for now!)

And there’s quite a few things that we’ll be doing differently from other schools. In fact, there are some things we’ll be doing that no-one else in the entire country is doing.

So taking all this into account, you can see why we are looking for someone whose passion and belief in what we’re trying to do overrides the very-sensible bit of their brain that is telling them to take the easier option.

If you think that person is you, or you know of someone who might be interested, take a look at the details of the role and how to apply.

And don’t take the easy option

Mariposa is being set up entirely by a local group of parents and volunteers, without support from a sponsor and not part of an overarching academy trust or chain. This is definitely not an easy option, but actually, I have come to realise that it is a huge advantage for the resulting school. Because our team know personally many of the families who want to send their children to the school. The school is for our community, our neighbours and our friends. And this makes us willing to fight for the best we can possibly achieve, and it makes us a very strong team. I wonder how many in-coming new Head Teachers can say that they’ve got that sort of support behind them?

In our admissions criteria, we have a line that gives preference to ‘children of founding parents’. This is one of the few concessions allowed to new parent-led schools, but it’s an important one. That’s the standard we are aspiring to – somewhere we’d put as first choice for our own children, and can therefore say with all confidence to other parents, ‘this will be an amazing school’.

And at least life isn’t dull…


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Feb 5, 2018

So, the news is out. Mariposa is over.

As we lick our wounds and work out what our lives look like now, I can finally write a blog post or two about the experience. Apologies for length – it has been a while!

Jul 1, 2017

Starting a new school is a long process, full of lots of hoops and reports and boring stuff that neither generates much fun or much news. We are often asked by parents for updates, as we haven’t posted much news lately. Invariably I reply with, ‘Well, we’re working on the planning process – having meetings with the ESFA (the newly-renamed Education and Skills Funding Agency) and Harrow Council and working on all the detailed plans for our curriculum and school policies and procedures’.

May 31, 2016
There are many things about our journey to starting Mariposa that have been frustrating, but none as much as the battle to announce our site. We want to be completely open and involve our community as much as possible with the new school. However, for this part, that is completely out of our hands.

Here is why…

Mar 11, 2016
We are back and things are moving fast! Our site is close to being announced, we have identified two new roles on our Steering Committee and we are advertising for our first Head Teacher.

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